Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra since the start of the 2012/13 season and Music Director of Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra since 2008, Yannick Nézet-Séguin has also been Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal) since 2000, and has conducted all the major ensembles in his native Canada.
His European debut in 2004 swiftly led to invitations to many ensembles, such as the Dresden Staatskapelle, Berliner Philharmoniker, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Wiener Philharmoniker (in Salzburg, Lucerne and Vienna), Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He made his BBC Proms debut in 2009 with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, returning the following year with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Summer 2012 saw concerts with the Orchestre Métropolitain in Canada; The Philadelphia Orchestra in Vail and Saratoga; and concerts at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in New York with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra.
A notable opera conductor, Mr Nézet-Séguin made his debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2008 with a new production of Roméo et Juliette, returning to the city for the 2010 Mozartwoche and for Don Giovanni at the 2010 and 2011 summer festivals. For The Metropolitan Opera, he has conducted Carmen, Don Carlo and Faust, with La Traviata opening next month and will continue to appear each season thereafter. His 2011 debut at Teatro alla Scala (Roméo et Juliette) was followed last year by his first production for Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Rusalka) and returns in a later season. For Netherlands Opera, he has conducted The Makropoulos Case, Turandot and Don Carlo (all with the Rotterdam Philharmonic) and in 2011, embarked on a major opera series for Festspielhaus Baden-Baden.
Last October, Mr Nézet-Séguin’s inaugural concerts with The Philadelphia Orchestra were most warmly received and included his acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut (Verdi Requiem). Alongside regular subscription and touring programmes, he will lead three Carnegie Hall concerts each season and will make their first recording together for Deutsche Grammophon later this season. Other highlights of 2012/13 include two separate tours to Japan and the Far East with the Rotterdam Philharmonic; a German tour with the London Philharmonic; and the complete Schumann symphonies and concertos with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, which he recorded live last November for Deutsche Grammophon from Cité de la Musique in Paris.
In July 2012, following highly successful DVD releases of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (Salzburg Festival, 2008) and Bizet’s Carmen (The Metropolitan Opera, 2010) for their Yellow Label, Deutsche Grammophon announced a major long-term collaboration. Alongside his Philadelphia Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe recordings, he makes a series of three recordings with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, starting with Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony; and live recordings of Mozart’s seven mature operas from the Baden-Baden Summer Festival. The first, Don Giovanni, was recorded in 2011 with Mahler Chamber Orchestra and released last year to outstanding reviews and will be followed in 2013 by the release of Così fan tutte, recorded last summer with Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Remaining titles in the series are Idomeneo, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Le nozze di Figaro, La clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflöte. Mr Nézet-Séguin’s discography with the Rotterdam Philharmonic also includes recordings of Strauss (Ein Heldenleben/Vier letzte Lieder) and Berlioz (Symphonie fantastique/La Mort de Cléopâtre) for BIS Records; and three EMI/Virgin releases, including an Edison Award-winning album of Ravel’s orchestral works. With the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir he has recorded Brahms’s German Requiem on the LPO’s own label; he also continues to enjoy a fruitful recording relationship with Orchestre Métropolitain and Canadian label ATMA Classique.
A native of Montreal, Mr Nézet-Séguin studied piano, conducting, composition, and chamber music at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec in Montreal and choral conducting at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey before going on to study with renowned conductors, most notably the Italian maestro Carlo Maria Giulini. His honours include a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award; Canada’s highly coveted National Arts Centre Award and the Prix Denise-Pelletier, the highest distinction for the arts in Quebec, awarded by the Quebec government. In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Quebec in Montreal and was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2012. (Askonas Holt)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Acknowledged as “the finest chamber orchestra in the world” (BBC Two Television, 2011), the Chamber Orchestra of Europe was founded in 1981 by a group of young musicians graduating from the European Union Youth Orchestra. It was their ambition to continue working together at the highest possible professional level, and of that original group, eighteen remain in the current core membership of around sixty. The members of COE, selected by the Orchestra itself, pursue parallel careers as international soloists, Leaders and Principals of nationally-based orchestras, as members of eminent chamber groups, and as tutors and professors of music.
The Chamber Orchestra of Europe provides an excellent illustration of how Europeans can come together artistically to create a strong European ethos. It is the players’ wealth of cultural backgrounds and shared love of music-making which remain at the heart of their inspired performances.
The COE performs in some of the most prominent cultural venues in Europe including the Cité de la musique in Paris, the Opéra de Dijon, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Alte Oper in Frankfurt. Together with other major European concert halls, these venues form the backbone of the Orchestra’s European Partnership Scheme and provide a regular touring base for the Orchestra. The COE has a close association with the Lucerne Festival, the Styriarte in Graz, the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon and with many of the world’s most prestigious musical events, such as the BBC Proms in London, the Edinburgh International Festival and the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York.
The Chamber Orchestra of Europe works with many of the world’s most renowned soloists and conductors including Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Emanuel Ax, Lisa Batiashvili, Joshua Bell, Paavo Berglund, Herbert Blomstedt, Douglas Boyd, Semyon Bychkov, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Ivan Fischer, Julia Fischer, Hélène Grimaud, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Daniel Hope, Janine Jansen, Vladimir Jurowski, Leonidas Kavakos, Hanno Müller-Brachmann, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sir Roger Norrington, Sakari Oramo, Maria Joao Pires, András Schiff, Valeriy Sokolov, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Mitsuko Uchida.
The Chamber Orchestra of Europe has worked with all the major recording companies and, in only thirty years, has recorded over 250 works. It has won numerous international prizes for its recordings including three Gramophone Record of the Year awards - for Rossini’s opera Viaggio à Reims, Schubert’s symphonies conducted by Claudio Abbado, and Beethoven’s symphonies conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. The Orchestra has also won two Grammys and the MIDEM “Classical Download” Award. The COE was the first Orchestra to create its own label, “COE Records”, in association with Sanctuary Records, a division of Universal Music.
In recent years, the COE has released a number of DVDs and, in particular, has developed a close association with producing companies Idéale Audience and Styriarte/ORF. Idéale Audience produced two DVDs of concerts performed at the Cité de la musique in Paris, namely Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, R. Strauss’s Metamorphosen and Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite conducted by Vladimir Jurowski with Hélène Grimaud and Sibelius’s Rakastava, Valse Triste and Violin Concerto and Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy with Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov. The Styriarte, in association with the ORF (Austria’s Radio and Television network), also released three DVDs of the COE’s performances at the Styriarte Festival, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in D and Symphony No. 5 (2007) and Smetana’s Má Vlast (2010) and The Bartered Bride (2011). All of the COE’s recordings can be purchased on Amazon or downloaded from iTunes and Spotify.
To enable young people and new audiences to experience at first hand high quality live orchestral and chamber music, the COE has an active education and outreach programme designed for school, conservatoire and concert hall. The COE Academy was created in 2009 and each year awards full scholarships to exceptionally talented postgraduate students and young professionals to study with the COE’s principal players when the Orchestra is ‘on tour’.
The COE has been a European Cultural Ambassador since 2007 and benefits from substantial support from the EU Culture Programme. It also attracts support from other organisations, most notably from The Gatsby Charitable Foundation.