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March 11, 2016

Five for Friday: Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Music Five for Friday
Yannick Nezet Seguin Chris Lee/Philadelphia Orchestra

Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Not only is Yannick Nézet-Séguin's name a mouthful, (pronounced Yah-NEEK Neh-ZAY Say-GUN, by the way) but so is his job title. He is simultaneously the music director of both the Philadelphia Orchestra and of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montréal. To put it simply, the guy is always on the go.

Hot of a huge year that saw him nominated for his first two Grammy awards (once with Philadelphia Orchestra and again with The Chamber Orchestra of Europe), playing for Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families and named Artist of the Year by Musical AmericaNézet-Séguin isn't slowing down any time soon. He's in town this weekend to conduct "Symphony of a Thousand," Mahler's Symphony no. 8, marking the 100th anniversary of the symphony's U.S. premiere, by the Philadelphia Orchestra, no less. 

But then he's off to Germany, Canada and the Netherlands before returning to Philly in April. In a year from now, he'll be go-go-going to Mongolia, too. But you'll have to read on below for more on that exciting trip!

Of all your career accomplishments, which are you most proud of and why?

There is not just one thing – it’s really more about the greater whole of my career. I am proud of keeping active a few very close and great relationships with select ensembles, particularly those with which I hold titles (Philadelphia, Rotterdam, Montreal). It is over the duration of time that this type of relationship makes the difference.

If you could work with one musician, past or present, who would it be and why?

Leonard Bernstein. I would have loved to meet him because of his all-around talent in so many areas, not the least of which was composing music and conducting. I would love to have been touched by his charisma.

Your work brings you all over the world. What cities are still on your travel bucket list, and why?

First, not a city but a country—Mongolia. We’ve just announced we’ll be going there in 2017. I’ve long wanted to visit this country that is still so pure in its culture, and I can’t wait to visit with the Orchestra. For cities, definitely in South America. I would like to visit Buenos Aires for its mix of European influence and unbelievable raw nature. And Brasília, that amazing architectural wonder that is the capital of Brazil.

What song has been stuck in your head lately?

Usually the music in my head is that which I have just conducted. So, that would be Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto (with Hélène Grimaud as soloist) and Schumann’s “Spring” Symphony, which I conducted last week. However, I have been thinking so much and preparing for our upcoming Mahler 8 performances that it is that music that is really stuck in my ears right now.

Where is your favorite place to hang out in Philly?

Early on Parc on Rittenhouse Square was my favorite place to hang out in Philly, and it still is!