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The Philadelphia Orchestra's 2015-2016 Season Announced!

Yannick Nezet-Seguin is music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Philadelphia Orchestra is hardly settling into a routine in its fourth season with Yannick Nezet-Seguin. Plans for 2015-2016 announced this week have the conductor going well beyond typical classical subscription concerts, plus engineering guest appearances that are bound to make national news. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports.

Radio Script:

David Patrick Stearns: Yannick Nezet-Seguin must be completely secure within himself to invite one of the most revered masters of the podium, James Levine, to guest conduct his Philadelphia Orchestra.

After years of health problems that threatened to end his career, even at the Metropolitan Opera, the 71-year-old Levine will be here in Feb. 2016 – his first engagement outside New York since stepping down from the Boston Symphony Orchestra four years ago. How did this come about? Yannick Nezet-Seguin did it himself.

Yannick: I approached him personally, and he was interested. but then he wouldn't commit to it for some time, which is normal. I'm happy we could do this. It's a major thing for us.

DPS: And just because Simon Rattle is absent next season, doesn't mean he'll be away much longer. Nezet-Seguin fears no competition.

Yannick: It was never my mind set and it never will be. This orchestra is the finest and it needs the finest guests. I bring my own voice, we need a variety of approaches for the season and I strive only for the best.

DPS: Remarkably, Nezet-Seguin is willing to take on special-interest projects outside typical subscription concerts. Of course, he has the ultimate conducting feast, Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand" coming up. But on one Saturday morning, he'll perform with a group named Puppet Kitchen. He'll premiere Hannibal Lecumbe's new choral work One Land, One River, One People. Around Christmas, he'll conduct Handel's Messiah – partially staged.

Yannick: This is what we want to project, that the orchestra is for everyone in the city. I believe it's normal for me to do this. If I'm not  showing up for the community, it sends the wrong message, that this is something that's not as important as a subscription concert.

DPS: It's a potentially rich season. He'll collaborate with the stylish French pianist Alexandre Tharaud. Familiar names like Helene Grimaud and Angela Meade will return. Longtime Canadian collaborators such as Karina Gauvin will visit.

Yannick: I like to build a sense of company.

DPS: Time is of the essence in classical music. Time is also unbelievably expensive. So the more time these musicians spend with each other, the more they’ll be able to build on what they’ve done before. Good for them, Good for us!