Osmo Vänskä studied conducting at Finland’s Sibelius Academy and was awarded first prize in the 1982 Besançon International Young Conductor’s Competition. He began his professional music career as a clarinetist, holding the co-principal chair of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the principal chair of the Turku Philharmonic. In recent years he has enjoyed a return to the clarinet, including a recent recording of Kalevi Aho’s chamber works. Music director of the Minnesota Orchestra between 2003 and 2013, Mr. Vänskä’s previous positions include principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.
The 2013-14 season brings performances with the Cleveland Orchestra, National Symphony, New World Symphony, Vienna Symphony, Bamberg Symphony, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, and Singapore Symphony. As a guest conductor Mr. Vänskä has worked with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. He has also developed regular relationships with the Mostly Mozart Festival (New York) and the BBC Proms. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2002.
Mr. Vänskä gained distinction as a recording artist with his Sibelius cycle with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra on the BIS label. With the Minnesota Orchestra, he has made Grammy-nominated recordings on BIS of Sibelius’s First and Fourth Symphonies and Second and Fifth Symphonies. BIS will release Mr. Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra’s second recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos with Yevgeny Sudbin in 2014.
Mr. Vänskä is the recipient of a Royal Philharmonic Society Award, Musical America’s 2005 Conductor of the Year Award, and the Arts and Letters Award from the Finlandia Foundation. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Glasgow and the University of Minnesota, as well as the 2010 Ditson Award from Columbia University for his support of American music. In 2013 he received the Annual Award from the German Record Critics' Award Association for his work on BIS’s project to record the complete works of Sibelius.