Popular maestro Osmo Vänskä will continue conducting the Minnesota Orchestra through 2022. The orchestra announced Monday morning that the longtime music director has signed a new, three-year contract through its 2021-22 season. The extension came early — Vänskä’s current contract expires at the end of the 2018-19 season.
The orchestra did not release the financial terms of Vänskä’s deal. Under the new contract, he will conduct at least 12 weeks of concerts a season, as he does now.
Vänskä started as music director of the Minnesota Orchestra in 2003. The new contract would extend his total tenure to 19 years, matching the orchestra’s two longest-serving music directors, Emil Oberhoffer and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.
In a news release, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairwoman of the orchestra’s board of directors, called Vänskä’s impact on the orchestra “exceptional.”
“The partnership he and the musicians have formed is one of the greats in Minnesota Orchestra history,” she said, “and there is so much more that he and the orchestra can do together.”
Under Vänskä’s leadership, the Minnesota Orchestra has toured Europe, Cuba and Minnesota; produced 15 recordings, including the complete symphonies by Beethoven and Sibelius; and rebuilt the organization after a bruising lockout that ended in January 2014.
More years together will allow the orchestra to continue recording, Vänskä said by phone Monday, and to push forward on the progress made since the labor dispute.
“Everything which has happened since the lockout has really, really been like a new way,” Vänskä said. “The players are more involved in the future of the orchestra.
“I’m really looking forward to those years to come, because I think there’s a great motivation within the orchestra.”
In addition to his strong partnership with musicians, “Osmo enjoys a unique and dynamic chemistry with Minnesota audiences,” Kevin Smith, the orchestra’s president and CEO said in a statement. “We are very happy the orchestra and this community will continue to benefit from his artistic leadership.”
While the orchestra releases general financial terms of its contracts with musicians, it doesn’t do so for individuals, a spokeswoman said. According to the orchestra’s 2013 tax return, Vänskä’s salary was about $936,000 before he resigned in protest over the bitter, 16-month lockout. Tax returns are not yet available for 2016, Vänskä’s first full fiscal year after returning to the orchestra.