In honour of Canada 150, we’re spending the week leading up to Canada Day shining the spotlight on some of Canada’s greatest classical artists!
Where conductor Mario Bernardi forged and shaped Canada’s orchestral landscape, serving as role model to the next generation, Yannick Nézet-Séguin has taken that baton and shot straight to the top of the International A-list. Only 42, he is the first Canadian to have entered the upper echelons of the conducting world. Not only has he entered it, he owns the place!
From New York to Berlin, orchestras all over the world are hungry for his unique brand of inspiration, and I don’t wonder why. Having played under him myself, I know first-hand what he brings to the podium. Great conductors are few, and their particular formula of greatness is always different; but the one common requirement is depth and clarity of musical vision – big enough and deep enough to inspire every musician on stage. Yannick has this in spades, but he also has a magical something extra: he empowers his players. Making music with him feels collaborative, like climbing on board a powerful vessel which you are invited to help steer. That’s why musicians love him, and the results speak for themselves: appearances with the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras and recordings with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe; Principal Guest Conductorship of the London Philharmonic, Music Directorship of both the Rotterdam Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra – one of America’s legendary “Big Five”; and being placed at the helm of productions at La Scala, the Royal Opera House, and the Netherlands Opera.
But no matter how prestigious his appointments get, he never considers himself too big for the orchestra where he cut his teeth, the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, which he has led since he was 25. He’ll remain their music director even when he ascends the conducting throne as Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a position he’s too busy to fill until 2020 – but as far as they’re concerned, he’s worth the wait!