The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: He is gifted, gay and French-Canadian. Could Yannick Nezet-Seguin be the next superstar conductor? A lot of people think so. Read why in The New York Times and hear his Carnegie Hall concert last night on NPR. What do you think? | January 18, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

We all remember the superstar conductors, conductors like Arturo Toscanini, Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein. Even the popular media recognize them as celebrities. More recently, one could conceivably put Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim and Valery Gergiev in the same category.

The most recent one to capture and hold the public’s imagination in such a charismatic way was Gustavo Dudamel (below), the passionate and almost hyperactive young man who emerged from poverty in Venezuela through the “El sistema” that offered free classical music education. He now is music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.


Probably the latest candidate for that elite club is Yannick Nezet-Seguin (below, in a photo by Torsten Kjelstrand/NPR with the Philadelphia Orchestra in a Carnegie Hall concert of Shostakovich, Ravel and Szymanowski that was webcast last night by NPR.) And I can think of no better introduction to him than a long profile by The New York Times critic and writer Daniel J. Wakin that appeared last weekend.


Where do you start to convey his personality? The fact that the 35-year-old French-Canadian native of Montreal is openly gay? The Tahitian Turtle Tattoo? The great reviews? The pumped-up chest that earned the short 5-5 conductor  the nickname of Mighty Mouse from renowned soprano Joyce DiDonato? His quick rise to the podium of the Philadelphia Orchestra and to the ranks of top, world-class orchestra conductors?

Yannick Nezet-Seguin close up

I doubt he will be known as Yanni, since Yanni is already reserved for the New Age composer, who also is often dubbed “Yawni.”

But the boyish conductor just might become a one-name celebrity – something like “Yannick” in the way that Bernstein was “Lenny.” He certainly projects that kind of intensity and he sure gets results.

Yannick Nezet-Seguin in aciton

You can make up your own mind about the man who hopes to rebuild the special “Philadelphia Sound”  of Eugene Ormandy that relied on strings the way the Chicago Symphony Sound relied on brass.

Here is a link to the profile:

And here is a link to the archived webcast of last night’s concert in Carnegie Hall. Be sure to read the “Read More” button:

If you heard him, what did you think?

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. Reblogged this on Classical Music Girl.

    Comment by classicalmusicgirl — January 29, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

  2. I heard the concert on WFMT last night. The Shostokovich was breathtaking. There must have been 10 minutes of curtain calls. I am a native Philadelphian and grew up with Ormandy and the orchestra. They have had such tough times lately. I am hoping Nezet-Seguin ushers in a whole new era for the Philadelphians.

    Comment by Anders Yocom — January 18, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

    • Hi Anders,
      Thank is high praise indeed from a very discerning listener.
      I hope your wish comes true — and my bet is that the whole city of Philadelphia hopes so too, as I expect the American symphony orchestra scene, both players and audiences, does.
      Thanks for writing and for giving details of the curtain calls and Shostakovich.

      Comment by welltemperedear — January 18, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

  3. I was at Carnegie Hall last night. Fabulous, great, emotional. The Shostakovich was unbelievable … Bernie L.

    Comment by Bernie Langs — January 18, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

    • Hi Bernie,
      Thank you for the first-hand account of what so many others say about his conducting and the great results it gets.
      The Ear

      Comment by welltemperedear — January 18, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

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