Audiences for classical music may be getting older and older, but the trend for major conducting jobs continues to take a youthful curve. On the heels of Gustavo Dudamel's appointment at the Los Angeles Philharmonic before the age of 30 and Alan Gilbert's at the New York Philharmonic barely out of his 30s, the 35-year-old Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin has been named music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He'll formally start in 2012 with a five-year contract.
There has been a lot of buzz about Nézet-Séguin for some time, and it's cool to see the grand old Philadelphia Orchestra take a chance on someone not only still quite youthful in conductor years, but relatively unknown. He got the nod after just two guest-conducting stints with the ensemble.
If there's anything to the idea that young, energetic musicians can attract fresh audiences and re-energize seasoned ones, Nézet-Séguin should fit the bill nicely in Philadelphia. The orchestra needs a boost, after a prolonged music director search and worrisome deficits and declines in attendance. This great, noble orchestra has been having a rough patch for too long. My guess is that things are going to perk up well before the new guy is fully in place at the helm.
Here's a video clip that reveals Nézet-Séguin's engaging personality as he chats about music and his approach to conducting, followed by a clip of him at work on the podium: