The Philadelphia Orchestra has appointed 35 years old Yannick Nézet-Séguin as chief conductor of the orchestra in starting in 2012. 

Yannick, a native of Montreal, is a much sought out conductor globally. He has conducted for all of the orchestras in Canada and is currently music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and is Artistic Director of the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal).

Nézet-Séguin has been a strong contender in the orchestra‘s maestro search in the last two years after maestro Christoph Eschenbach abruptly announced his departure after just a five year tenure. Nizet-Seguin has distinguished himself globally and has developed a strong artistic relationship with the orchestra as guest conductor. His appointment is being welcomed as the end of a tumultuous few years for the Philadelphia Orchestra fraught with administrative, fiscal and artistic problems.

The new conductor is in the orchestra’s old tradition of appointing 30 something conductors which would include an elite roster starting with Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy and Riccardo Muti (all with maestrodivo hair). The Canadian was chosen not only for his musical reputation with diverse repertoire, but for his charisma on the podium, not to mention the locks.  

Meanwhile current Associate Conductor Rossen Milanov, kicks off the orchestra’s summer series this week at the open air Mann Center in Fairmount Park. They opened with a crowd pleaser program of two heavyweight classics highlighted by a-star-is- born performance by 19-year-old pianist Hoachen Zhang, a current student at the Curtis Institute. Zhang just won the Van Cliburn Competition and it easy to see why as he masterfully attacked, caressed and otherwise illuminated Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Containing some of Tchaikovsky’s most romantic orchestral drama and decorous keyboard runs, this can be a predictable crowd pleaser. Milanov and Zhang go for more. The pianist’s technique never showy and his dynamic at the keyboard kept drawing us deeper into the music. Milanov really amped up the strings to fit the outdoor venue and with this music enveloping the park environs with the skyline in the distance, there was musical triumph.