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Getting to Know Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin

0 Ann Drinan

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the new Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra who lives in Montreal, has been garnering lots of positive press, especially after his triumphant debut with the orchestra at Carnegie Hall on October 23 performing Verdi’s Requiem. He held the silence at the conclusion of the work for many, many seconds – so many that this is what lots of people are writing about.

The New York Times had a feature article about him by Daniel J. Wakin, titled “Maestro With the Turtle Tattoo,” back in January. He comes across as a down-to-earth, dynamic music director, with lots of energy and new ideas, and a formidable musical knowledge.

Recently, Robert Sandla, editor of Symphony magazine, interviewed Maestro Nézet-Séguin for the League’s SymphonyNOW website. Bob asked him about his decision to sell a few tickets at the Philadelphia Orchestra’s box office, about his interest in Tweeting (the Maestro claims that Stokowski would be tweeting if he’d lived in 2013), and how he handles his globe-trotting career.

In response to a question about the financial stability of the Philadelphia Orchestra, he replied that the financial difficulties never made him question his allegiance to the orchestra and its musicians; that it’s all about the music. The Maestro talked about the collegial aspects of making music and the chemistry he feels with the Philadelphia musicians.

A most interesting question from Bob asked him about whether orchestras can retain their unique sound, or will they all become internationalized. Maestro Nézet-Séguin’s response described a performance of Beethoven’s Eroica with the Rotterdam Philharmonic that was broadcast in Canada – his colleagues in Montreal couldn’t believe he’d been conducting because it was so different from the performance he had recently given of the same work with Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain.

I’m certain more in-depth feature articles about and interviews with Maestro Nézet-Séguin will be forthcoming; his name is frequently mentioned in the musings about who may succeed James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera.

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