Over 150 years ago "The Great Migration" of Finns to the United States began, with many of the immigrants settling in the Midwest - especially in the "Finn Hook," that is, parts of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. To celebrate this, the Minnesota Orchestra and its Finnish music director Osmo Vänskä commissioned the composer Olli Kortekangas for a work on the theme of migration, suitable for performance alongside Jean Sibelius’s massive Kullervo. Vänskä spoke with WBAA's John Clare about these works and his new release.
Find out more here, and be sure to listen for this new recording and more on Morning Classics, Afternoon Classics, and What's New on WBAA Classical on 101.3FM and WBAA.org.
Osmo Vänskä, the Minnesota Orchestra’s tenth music director, is renowned internationally for his compelling interpretations of the standard, contemporary and Nordic repertoires. He has led the Orchestra on five major European tours—most recently drawing rave reviews in August 2016 for performances at festivals in Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, plus a special concert in Lahti, Finland, where for 20 years he was music director of the Lahti Symphony. In May 2015 he led the Orchestra on a historic tour to Havana, Cuba, where it became the first American orchestra to perform in the island nation since the thaw in Cuban-American diplomatic relations. He has also conducted regular tours to communities across Minnesota, including a 2014 performance in Bemidji as part of the Orchestra’s Common Chords initiative.
Vänskä has recorded extensively on the BIS and Hyperion labels. His Sibelius albums with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra for BIS have amassed numerous awards, including a 1996 Gramophone Award and Cannes Classical Award for the original version of the Fifth Symphony. His first-ever complete recording of The Tempest won the 1993 Prix Académie Charles Cros, and his disc of the original version of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Leonidas Kavakos won 1991 Gramophone Awards for Record of the Year and Best Concerto Recording.