Tuesday, October 9, 2012

And I had to speak French

Last Thursday, Oct. 4, I interviewed both Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the incoming music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and soprano superstar Renée Fleming for a preview of the season opener coming up next week. You can read all about it here. I will add only that both Yannick and Fleming were relaxed and chatty, which went a long way toward making me feel the same way.

At the end of my 25 minutes or so with Yannick, I told him I could not let the opportunity pass without making a request. He chuckled and told me to go ahead. I told him my favorite composer is Charles Ives — “Oh!” I heard him say — and the one symphony by Ives the Philadelphia Orchestra has never played is the Fourth. (It has played the first three, plus the two orchestral sets and the Holidays, but never the Fourth. It also has never played the Robert Browning Overture, but one step at time.)

He seemed surprised by the fact, and he said he would take the suggestion seriously. He has already met with management to discuss major works that do not yet belong to the orchestra’s repertoire, he said, and the Ives should be added to the list. So who knows? Maybe in another couple of years. I told him that if he does schedule the piece, I would attend every performance, which also seemed to amuse him.

In my first attempt to phone Yannick — at home in Montreal — I got the wrong number. A woman answered, and since Fleming, whom I spoke to earlier, had screened my call (someone named Paul answered), I assumed the maestro was doing the same thing. The woman sounded elderly, and for a second I thought maybe it was his mom.

I asked to speak with him, and she said, “Comment?

So, reaching back to my high school French, I said something like, “Je voudrais parler avec Monsieur Nézet-Séguin.” She mumbled something I didn’t understand, and the line went dead.

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