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Tuesday October 11, 2022

Osmo Vänskä Returns to Orchestra Hall to Complete Years-Long Mahler Recording Project

The November 10-12 performances and subsequent week’s recording sessions will conclude the project Vänskä began with the Minnesota Orchestra in 2016 to perform and record Gustav Mahler’s ten symphonies

The concerts mark Vänskä’s first appearance as the Orchestra’s conductor laureate since assuming the position in September 2022

On November 10 to 12, Minnesota Orchestra Conductor Laureate Osmo Vänskä returns to the Orchestra Hall stage in his first appearance since concluding his 19-year tenure as music director this past summer. He leads Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony with the Orchestra, mezzo soloist Jennifer Johnston, and singers from the Minnesota Chorale and Minnesota Boychoir in the culmination of an ambitious project to perform and record all ten Mahler symphonies.

In 2016 Vänskä and the Orchestra began the project by recording Mahler's Fifth Symphony for a Grammy-nominated album released the following year. Since then, the ensemble has recorded all but one of the Romantic-era composer's symphonies, which greatly expanded the symphony form when they were written between 1887 and 1910. In the week following these November concerts, the Third Symphony will be recorded in sessions with the Sweden-based BIS Records team for release in a future season.

The upcoming program includes three performances on Thursday, November 10, at 11 a.m., Friday, November 11, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, November 12, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $30 to $104.

With a typical performance spanning more than an hour and a half, Mahler’s Third is the longest of the composer’s symphonies. Inspired by the natural world, the work comprises six movements, and is regarded for its sweeping expressive range. The first movement accounts for the entire symphony’s first section. Of the first movement, the late musicologist Michael Steinberg wrote, “Mahler poses a series of quick marches that have tunes you can’t believe you haven’t known all your life.”

In these performances, the second section will feature English mezzo Jennifer Johnston and choral accompaniment from two groups: the Women of the Minnesota Chorale and the Minnesota Boychoir. Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Singer Award in 2021, Johnston is a prolific concert performer and has previously featured in renditions of Mahler’s symphonies with acclaimed orchestras across Europe. The Minnesota Chorale—principal chorus of the Minnesota Orchestra since 2004—ranks among the foremost professional choruses in the United States, while the Minnesota Boychoir celebrated 60 years of music-making in 2022.

After 19 years as the Orchestra’s music director—a tenure in which the Finnish conductor led the ensemble through large-scale recording initiatives, historic tours and more than 750 performances at Orchestra Hall—Vänskä took the title of conductor laureate in September. The new appointment, bearing a title of great distinction that was held by the late Stanislaw Skrowaczewski for nearly four decades, ensures Vänskä’s continued presence with the Orchestra for years to come.

In recognition of Vänskä’s tenure, the Orchestra has made the broadcast of its June 2022 performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony—the conductor’s farewell concert as music director—publicly available for viewing through the end of November. The performance can be streamed for free through the Orchestra’s Digital Concert Hall.


About Osmo Vänskä

Minnesota Orchestra Conductor Laureate Osmo Vänskä is renowned internationally for his compelling interpretations of the standard, contemporary and Nordic repertoires. In addition to the Mahler symphony cycle, his recordings with the Orchestra include all of the Sibelius and Beethoven symphonies, which included discs that earned a Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performances and two additional Grammy nominations. He also led the ensemble on major tours to Cuba, Europe and South Africa.

As a guest conductor, Vänskä has received extraordinary praise for his work with many of the world’s leading orchestras. He has served as music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and Finland’s Lahti Symphony, which, during two decades as music director, he transformed into one of Finland’s flagship orchestras. He began his music career as a clarinetist and continues to perform on that instrument, including in a Brahms trio at Orchestra Hall this past summer. His guest conducting schedule for the 2022-23 season includes engagements with the orchestras of Bamberg, Chicago, Los Angeles, Helsinki, Israel, Houston, Montreal and Pittsburgh.

About Jennifer Johnston

Jennifer Johnston, winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Singer Award 2021, is a former BBC New Generation Artist, and a graduate of Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music. She is particularly associated with the Bayerische Staatsoper, and she has appeared in operas at the Teatro alla Scala, Salzburg Festival and Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. She has performed with many of the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors, and her recent engagements have included Richard Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Mahler’s Second Symphony with the London Philharmonia, Mahler’s Third Symphony with the Oslo Filharmonien, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Woman: Interrupted with Malcolm Martineau at Wigmore Hall, and Verdi’s Requiem with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the First Night of the Proms.

Johnston’s engagements in the 2022-23 season include singing Mrs. Sedley in Peter Grimes at the Bayerische Staatsoper and Juno in Semele at the Glyndebourne Festival; concert performances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Irish National Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Hallé Orchestra; and recitals with Malcolm Martineau and Joseph Middleton.

About Minnesota Chorale

The Minnesota Chorale, principal chorus of the Minnesota Orchestra since 2004, has sung with the Orchestra for more than two decades, most recently last season in performances of Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Mahler's Eighth Symphony. It will collaborate with the Orchestra twice later this season, in performances of Haydn’s The Creation and the world premiere of brea(d)th by Carlos Simon with libretto by Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Later this month, the Chorale will celebrate its 50th anniversary with performances by its family of ensembles. Its other performances this season away from Orchestra Hall include the continuation of its Bridges program in a joint concert with Border CrosSing; holiday season performances of Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio; and a collaboration with Minnesota Dance Theatre featuring Carl Orff’s Carmina burana.

About Minnesota Boychoir

The Minnesota Boychoir is the oldest continually operating boy choir in the Twin Cities. For over 60 years, the Boychoir’s reputation for excellence has brought invitations from local and national music conventions as well as sporting events, local theater productions and touring Broadway companies. The Boychoir has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra—including at last June’s season finale concerts of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony—Minnesota Opera, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Prague Philharmonic and a long list of local, regional and national performing artists, ensembles and theater companies.


Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts


Thursday, November 10, 2022, 11 a.m. / Orchestra Hall

Friday, November 11, 2022, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Saturday, November 12, 2022, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall


Minnesota Orchestra

Osmo Vänskä, conductor

Jennifer Johnston, mezzo

Women of the Minnesota Chorale

Minnesota Boychoir


MAHLER  Symphony No. 3


Tickets: $30 to $104



Tickets and subscription packages can be purchased now at minnesotaorchestra.org or by calling 612-371-5656. For groups of 10 or more, call 612-371-5662.

Details around COVID safety protocols can be found at minnesotaorchestra.org/safety

All programs, artists, dates, times and prices subject to change.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


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