Fresh face for city’s classical music scene

Philadelphia has Yannick fever.

Following two years of underwhelming attendance and financial troubles, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the music director designate of the Philadelphia Orchestra, will be conducting four sold-out concerts this week. A fourth concert was added on Sunday to meet demand.

The energetic, handsome 35-year-old, who along with Gustavo Dudamel of the Los Angeles Philharmonic is an international leader of the next generation of conductors, told Metro in an interview yesterday that he wanted to be a conductor since the age of 10.

“It hit me one day when I was listening to Mozart’s ‘40th Symphony.’ I felt a calling,” he said backstage at the Kimmel Center. “Later on, I realized that I loved being in the middle of all that energy. I want to help express emotions.”

Philadelphia was able to persuade the young star to sign on as music director due to a “combination of a wonderful unique orchestra and the city itself.”

Nézet-Séguin, who is expected to make about $2 million annually, has not had much time to explore the city as of yet, but he likes what he has seen so far. He raved about the restaurants Vetri, Girasole — where Maestro Ricardo Muti used to dine — and Morimoto. His favorite section of the city so far is Washington Square.

Philadelphians will be seeing much more of Nézet-Séguin when he becomes full time in 2012. He plans to move here then. One beneficiary of his proximity will be the Curtis School of Music.

Yannick hopes for a close relationship with the school. He said, “I plan to regularly conduct student orchestras like former music director Eugene Ormandy used to.”

Bringing classics to the masses

In the past, the audience only saw the back of the conductor. Old-fashioned conductors let the music do their all of their talking. But contemporary times call for new ways of connecting with audiences.

Nézet-Séguin said, “I am hoping that newcomers to classical music will come to my concerts. I want them to feel welcome, so I will try to explain to the audience the music the orchestra plays each concert.”

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