By now you have heard that the Philadelphia Orchestra has named the Québécois conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Yah-NEEK Neh-ZAY Say-GUN) to be its new music director starting in 2012.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin

YNS in a beefcake pose

Last year YNS (as the marketing suits like to call him) became the music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic. He is also the principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic. This year he made his debut at the Met conducting Carmen. He has also been the Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orchestre Métropolitain. He is the second Canadian conductor to be appointed to a major local orchestra. Jacques Lacombe has just been appointed to succeed Neeme Järvi as head of the New Jersey Symphony. Philadelphia has been without a music director since the departure of Christoph Eschenbach. Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit has been “filling in” admirable for the past few years. But at the age of 73 he was not interested in taking the job permanently. He is now the chief conductor and after YNS takes over he will become conductor laureate.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s music directors have been Fritz Scheel, Karl Pohlig, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Christoph Eschenbach, and now Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The only other conductor that we know about that had been considered (besides the pie in the sky hope of luring Sir Simon) was the Russian Vladimir Jurowski. Apparently the orchestra wished to continue the “No Americans Considered” tradition.

Philadelphia Inquirer music critics Peter Dobrin and David Patrick Stearns have weighed in. Here is Dobrin’s initial article and Stearn’s reaction. Before YNS landed the gig Dobrin published an interesting article on what he hoped for the selection criteria. Dobrin, Stearns, Montreal Gazette critic Arthur Kaptainis, and the orchestra’s board chairman Richard Worley were interviewed on the local Philadelphia NPR radio station. You can hear the interview at the WHYY website. Two of the reasons for hiring YNS jump out:

1. chemistry.
2. new and younger audience.

The previous music director Eschenbach demonstrated just how important the first item is. The second item is wishful thinking. In a crass backwater burg like LA the cute young thing with the compelling story who has “energy” will get curious one time ticket buyers – especially after a 60 Minutes fawnfest. Even Eschenbach has observed that “Quicker tempos tend to court superficiality.” I hope that the orchestra deciders Vulgamore and Worley do not debase the currency for a few quick sales.

I’ll let YNS have the last word here with his “welcome” clip.