Philadelphia abuzz over its orchestra's new music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Two articles in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer confirm that Yannick Nézet-Séguin will become music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra in Sept. 2012, for an initial five-year term.
Music critic Peter Dobin lays out the facts, as well as the history of the famed orchestra's protracted search for a new leader, while David Patrick Stearns pieces together an appreciation of what has just happened.
At one point, Stearns writes:
Musically, I find Nézet-Séguin hugely engaging and often enlightening. His broad-reaching repertoire is essential for any resident music director. Monitoring his unedited radio broadcasts, I've heard perhaps the single greatest performance of Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F and, at the other end of the depth scale, a Mahler Symphony No. 9 that went as far into that music's abyss as any of Nézet-Séguin's great predecessors.
It's only been 10 years since Nézet-Séguin got his first permanent post, as music director of the Orchestre Métropolitain, in Montreal. Since then, he has charmed every orchestra he has conducted.
In some other fields, such a quick rise from regional to the top tier of global would be reason to look at someone sideways, to wonder what sort of deal he has signed with the devil on the way up. But I can't imagine that a conductor can charm his way to glory -- not with seven- or eight-dozen jaded professionals staring back as the baton rises for the first downbeat. Conductors earn the respect they get, first from the musicians, then from audiences.
Like many other lovers of classical music here, I had a secret wish that Nézet-Séguin could somehow, someday, become music director of the Toronto Symphony. Yannick is the One That Got Away. But there will be others. In the meantime, we can be proud that there is a Canadian conductor at the top of the list of people the world's great orchestras would like to have on their podiums -- just as our little big country has produced singers, violinists, pianists and many other musicians of the highest calibre.
We need to remember two other things: Yannick is all the more attractive to us because he, like Isabel Bayrakdarian, James Ehnes and Marc-André Hamelin, have been validated elsewhere -- we are still that insecure as a country; and many globetrotters realise, ultimately, that there's no place like home.