Please press the play button above to hear the recorded interview, which was recently broadcast on KMFA 89.5.
Osmo Vänskä is the Finnish conductor, clarinetist, and composer who is currently music director of the Minnesota Orchestra. Vänskä has served in that role since 2003 and is generally credited with bettering the overall sound and musicianship of the orchestra in addition to guiding the ensemble through a tumultuous contract negotiation during the 2012-13 season.
Long associated with the music of his country, Vänskä was the chief conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra for twenty years. It was with that ensemble that he recorded his first complete set of symphonies by Jean Sibelius. Vänskä has also been the chief conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Since he’s been in Minnesota, he’s recorded all of Beethoven’s symphonies to critical and audience acclaim in addition to completing a second set of recordings of the symphonies of Jean Sibelius. The recording of Sibelius' Symphonies No. 1 & 4 won a Grammy Award in 2014.
More recently, Vänskä and his Minnesotans have released two new albums. The latest is a concert recording of the Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler. The ensemble also has a new recording of the choral symphony by Sibelius known as Kullervo. The legend of Kullervo is taken from Finland’s national epic, The Kalevala. It is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature and played an instrumental role in the development of the Finnish national identity.
KMFA's Chris Johnson recently sat down with Osmo Vänskä to talk about the legend of Kullervo, the music, and his new recording with the Minnesota Orchestra. Special thanks to KMFA’s story seeker and production volunteer Joshua Figueroa, who edited and mixed this interview.