In preparation for Carnegie Hall's 2013–2014 Opening Night Gala on October 2, we invite you to go Beyond the Baton with The Philadelphia Orchestra's Music Director and Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. We'll continue to share selections from The Philadelphia Orchestra's fun and insightful Q&A series, and we encourage you to explore the rest at philorch.org/blog.
What was the first piece of music you conducted, and where?
The first time I actually stood in front of a group was when I was nine, and I "conducted" the national anthem of Canada in a rehearsal. I was dying to try it, and it worked! So that was when I knew I could have that ambition. The first time I conducted a concert, with choir and organ, was the Fauré Requiem, when I was 18. And the first time with orchestra was Bach's St. John Passion.
What instrument(s) do you play?
The piano is my real instrument. I had cello lessons and trumpet lessons, but never consider that I really play these instruments.Hear Yannick Nézet-Séguin perform select Tchaikovsky romances at the piano, with violinist Lisa Batiashvili, on a new Deutsche Grammophon recording.
Do you play any sports?
When I was in school in gym class, the thing I succeeded at the most was gymnastics because I have the build of a gymnast. But now I also consider myself very good at wind surfing. And I've had a few tennis lessons, but I would need to do more to become really good.
What is your favorite type of food?
I really like Italian food. I like fish cooked in a little lemon and olive oil, and salad with fresh basil. I prefer food that is fresh.
What's the one thing you always do before going onstage?
I don't have a special ritual, however I wear my grandfather's ring on my finger, always. And before going onstage I have a moment where I touch the ring and think of him. He passed away before seeing me conduct, so this is a small way of sharing.
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Photo: Deutsche Grammophon.