This appointment marks the end of a long search for the financially troubled orchestra, which has been without a music director since 2006. A native of Montréal, Mr. Nézet-Séguin made a splash on the East Coast conducting the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Carmen at the end of 2009.
Founded in 1900, the Philadelphia Orchestra rose to prominence under the leadership of luminary conductors such as Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy and more recently, Wolfgang Sawallisch. However, the appointment of pianist/conductor Christoph Eschenbach as Music Director in 2004 marked the start of a downward spiral. Orchestra members felt a lack of chemistry with Mr. Eschenbach, and his contract was abruptly terminated in 2006.
In recent years, the orchestra has been under the stewardship of Principal Conductor Charles Dutoit. However, a lack of ticket sales at the Kimmel Center, the loss of sponsorship dollars due to the 2008 economic collapse, and other economic issues have forced the acclaimed orchestra to the brink of insolvency. This appointment is the first step on the road back to greatness.
With the appointment of the 35-year-old Mr. Nézet-Séguin, Philadelphia is sending a message that they are committed to youth and longevity as well as music making. This is a positive message to send at the start of their summer concert season. We here at Superconductor would like to wish him great success in his tenure, and hope that his presence on the podium will lead to many seasons of great music in Philadelphia.
Photo © Marco Borggreve