I attended the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Sunday Matinee (092219). Valerie Coleman: “Umoja, Anthem for Unity”; Bartok: “Piano Concerto No. 3” (Helene Grimaud) and Dvorak: “New World Symphony.”
This was a fantastic, enjoyable and uplifting concert from beginning to end, but for this brief moment in time, let’s talk about the Dvorak – there were several revelations for me: Yanick Nezet-Seguin’s tempi in the first movement — slightly slower than what we are accustomed to in several sections: the symphony’s big wind solos were never show off loud or unnecessarily overpowering. They were just exquisite and lovely.
Then, somehow, the Maestro’s baton slipped away and landed in the hands of a gentleman in the first row.
YN-S continued conducting, but turned his head around to see where his baton had landed. The gentleman held it up for him to see, and in one swift motion YN-S reclaimed his stick and continued conducting the Dvorak.
60 seconds later, he turned around and communicated to the baton catcher what I assume were words of thanks and gratitude.
60 seconds later, he again turned around and said what I assume was a second note of thanks and gratitude.
At the end of the performance, he acknowledged the baton rescuer as if he were a soloist (the audience roared their approval), and then he kneeled down to present him with the baton in question. You could sense the conductor’s gratitude, and the audience roared again.
The Philadelphia Orchestra audience loves their conductor for his performances with the orchestra. Obviously.
But I suspect they also love him because on stage he is both Music Director and a wise, down to earth and compassionate human being. Living authentically in the moment, no matter what the circumstances, is his way of life.
Audiences respond to that subtle personal touch that informs the artistic and human experience, and it appears it’s a value Yannick-Nezet Seguin chooses to embrace.
All art is personal.