Getting to Know Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin

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.

About the author

Ann Drinan
Ann Drinan

Ann Drinan, Senior Editor, has been a member of the Hartford Symphony viola section for over 30 years. She is a former Chair of the Orchestra Committee, former member of the HSO Board, and has served on many HSO committees. She is also the Executive Director of CONCORA (CT Choral Artists), a professional chorus based in Hartford and New Britain, founded by Artistic Director Richard Coffey. Ann was a member of the Advisory Board of the Symphony Orchestra Institute (SOI), and was the HSO ROPA delegate for 14 years, serving as both Vice President and President of ROPA. In addition to playing the viola and running CONCORA, Ann is a professional writer and editor, and has worked as a consultant and technical writer for software companies in a wide variety of industries for over 3 decades. (She worked for the Yale Computer Science Department in the late 70s, and thus has been on the Internet, then called the DARPAnet, since 1977!) She is married to Algis Kaupas, a sound recordist, and lives a block from Long Island Sound in Branford CT. Together they create websites for musicians:

Ann holds a BA in Music from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MA in International Relations from Yale University.

Read Ann Drinan's blog here.

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