We’re all used to noting important firsts, from first day at school to first kiss, to first paycheck. But how many of us get to notch the 1,500th time we’ve done something, let alone something that’s exciting, beautiful, even magical? Yannick Nézet-Séguin is one of those fortunate few: Tonight he mounts the podium to conduct the 1,500th concert in his dazzling career. It all began in November 1994, when a still-teenaged Yannick led a performance of Fauré’s Requiem for choir and organ. He was off and running: Since that debut Yannick has led more than 1,200 symphonic concerts, before 85 different orchestras, featuring over 800 works from 250 composers, and an amazing 800 soloists; he’s also been in the pit for another 250 or so operas and ballets.
To help celebrate number 1,500, Yannick is reaching all the way back to number 30, his first time conducting the Orchestre Métropolitain, in a concert featuring Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony. That Orchestra favorite is on the program tonight, together with the same composer’s Prelude in C-sharp minor in an orchestration by former Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Leopold Stokowski (a subscription concert premiere), and the North American premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s jazzy Piano Concerto, with Marc-André Hamelin as soloist.
Yannick doesn’t see any contradiction between honoring the past and looking ahead. “With us it’s continuity. We play this musical heritage we’ve had for a hundred years. We connect with our past to make it relevant today.”
One more statistic to help put the remarkable 1,500 podiums in perspective: Yannick won’t hit another notable milestone for several more weeks, when he turns 40.