(Updated since the original 2013 post) A native of Montreal, Canada, Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Yah-NEEK neh-ZAY Say-GAN) (b. 1975) was first named Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2012, and subsequent contract extensions assure this position through the 2025-26 season. This makes him the first openly gay conductor of one of the "big five" orchestras in the United States.
In 2016 the Metropolitan Opera (NYC) announced that Nézet-Séguin would assume the title of Music Director beginning with the 2020-21 season, but following the termination of James Levine for sexual misconduct, he took the title two years early, beginning with the 2018-19 season.
Since 2000 Mr. Nézet-Séguin has also been Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal), and he has conducted all the major ensembles in his native Canada.
He was also Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008-2018, and today holds the title of Ehredirigent (honorary conductor) of that organization.
In a New York Times profile by Daniel Wakin, it was reported that “Nézet-Séguin is what the orchestra world is desperate for: a young, charismatic maestro who can win the respect, even affection, of grizzled orchestra veterans, the enthusiasm of audiences and the praise of critics, which has for him been pretty exalted.”
The 46-year-old conductor’s youth is reflected in his flouting of certain traditions – he frequently leads from the podium in a business suit and tie (Carnegie Hall), and he’s partial to tight V-neck sweaters and skinny jeans. Many times he conducts without a baton, in the style of Mitropoulos. While on vacation in Tahiti he acquired a turtle tattoo on his right shoulder, and his compact five-foot-five frame bursts with energy.
Again from Mr. Wakin’s NYT profile: “He seemed stunned by the ovation” (conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in Verdi’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall). “Applause from his inner circle greeted him in the crowded dressing room. Attendants broke open bottles of sparkling wine. Mr. Nézet-Séguin embraced his companion, Mr. Tourville, looked him in the eyes and said, ‘Oui?’
‘Oui,’ Mr. Tourville answered. With an air of coronation, orchestra and Carnegie Hall executives toasted Mr. Nézet-Séguin. “