By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – October may feel like a long time from now but it was not too early for the Philadelphia Orchestra to announce plans for their 113th season, first with their new music director.
The program given out to the Orchestra’s fans and supporters Wednesday night at the Kimmel Center declared, “He has arrived and the future of the Philadelphia Orchestra is now.”
“He” is Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the energetic conductor who is set to become the 8th music director in the Orchestra’s rich history.
“I want to reach the heart of every Philadelphian,” the Montreal-born conductor said during the forum Wednesday evening, moderated by CEO and President Allison Vulgamore.
“We want, together, to spread the word that (The Orchestra) is such a gem,” he said.
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Nézet-Séguin said the season will honor the city’s artistic past and creative present and future. He mentioned the historic significance of being named artistic director a century after Leopold Stokowski, who will be honored throughout the season, including performances of works Stokowski first introduced in Philadelphia.
But he also said it was important to move forward by introducing newer, modern day pieces along with appearances by renowned guest conductors and artists. One of whom, opera star Renee Fleming, will help usher in the new season on opening night on October 18.
Sitting next to Vulgamore and Nézet-Séguin was Concertmaster David Kim who acknowledged the Orchestra’s bankruptcy but said the tide is turning, thanks in part to Nézet-Séguin’s energy and attitude.
“After probably the most difficult year in the history of this great Orchestra, we’re on the cusp of something incredible,” Kim said. “Change is in the air.”
Part of moving forward, according to one in the audience, is drawing younger audiences. Kim and Nézet-Séguin both were optimistic and said more young people had been attending. Nézet-Séguin said it was necessary to appeal to them but to also make sure not to forget those who never left the Orchestra’s side.
“Sometimes when we talk about ‘renewing the audience, renewing the audience,’ I think it’s almost on the verge of being disrespectful to all the faithful people who have been coming for 40, 50 years,” he said.
The crowd of the Orchestra faithful applauded in approval of that answer and seemed to have taken to Nézet-Séguin. At the end, many migrated to the front of the stage, which was set up in front of the Orchestra’s Verizon Hall home. They tried to get autographs and pictures of the one who had “arrived” and who the Orchestra hopes ushers in a successful future.