Less than two weeks ago, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra were still locked out. Yesterday in Los Angeles, the Minnesota Orchestra won its first Best Orchestral Performance Grammy for “Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4.” Led by Osmo Vänskä, the recording was made for Sweden’s BIS label in May and June, 2012, shortly before Orchestra Hall closed for renovations.
The Minnesota Orchestra was ready with a statement. “I want to congratulate the Orchestra and Osmo on this outstanding honor and to offer my thanks to the many generous donors who have made possible the Orchestra’s recording projects,” said president and CEO Michael Henson. “This institution has an illustrious recording history that dates to the 1920s, and today’s award is a brilliant achievement in that long legacy.”
Not long after, the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra released their own statement through Blois Olson, their media representative. In the words of principal cellist Tony Ross, a member of the musicians’ negotiating committee during the lockout, “The winning of a Grammy Award for Best Symphonic Performance confirms where the Musicians and our leader Osmo Vänskä were as a symphony Orchestra before the lockout. We were a great orchestra enjoying a special relationship with our music director, Osmo Vänskä. This is also why we need him to return and carry on with the projects and partnership that have brought this orchestra acclaim worldwide. We know this community deserves an orchestra at that level.”
Early this morning, Vänskä issued a statement through his London agency: “I am absolutely thrilled that this recording of Sibelius Symphonies 1 and 4 – works so close to my heart – has been honoured with a Grammy Award. I am immensely happy and proud to have been able to achieve this in partnership with my dear and devoted friends at BIS record label and with the remarkable musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra. It is the greatest honour to be presented with such a distinctive award by our peers – and I convey my genuine thanks to The Recording Academy for this wonderful recognition.”
This was the Minnesota Orchestra’s second Sibelius recording for BIS. “Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 5” was released in 2011 and received a 2012 Grammy nomination. A third Sibelius recording (Symphonies 3 and 6) was scheduled for September 2013, but those sessions were canceled due to the lockout. That cancellation was one of the factors that led to Vänskä’s resignation on Oct. 1 of last year.
On March 27-29, Vänskä will lead the musicians in three Grammy celebration concerts at Orchestra Hall, performing the Sibelius 1 and 4. Tickets go on sale to subscribers today. They go on sale to the public at 8 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, on the orchestra’s website, which we hope the orchestra’s techies are working on right now, since it crashed last week when single tickets went on sale for the first two weekends of concerts since the lockouts ended. Ticket holders who attend those concerts (Feb. 7-8 and Feb. 14-15) will receive a copy of the Grammy-winning Sibelius CD.
Four more Grammys with Minnesota connections were awarded yesterday. Windom native Maria Schneider’s “Winter Morning Walks,” which came out on the crowd-funded ArtistShare label, won all four: for Best Contemporary Classical Composition (the title piece; Schneider gets to bring that Grammy home); Best Classical Vocal Solo Performance (that one goes to Dawn Upshaw); Best Engineered Album, Classical; and Producer of the Year, Classical (David Frost). The piece is performed by Upshaw and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. A second Schneider composition included on the album, “Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories,” was commissioned and performed by the SPCO.
A full list of Grammy winners is here.