What's wrong with Chicago?

What's wrong with Chicago?


norman lebrecht

December 30, 2010

First Riccardo Muti, the music director, crashed out of his concerts with what turned out to be nothing more serious than a tummy ache. Now Yannick Nézet-Seguin, the upwardly mobile Canadian, withdraws at short notice from his debut concerts next month for what are described, in the usual classical equivocation, as ‘personal reasons’.

To lose one conductor in a season may, as Oscar Wilde might have put it, be regarded as a misfortune. Two starts to look like a trend. I think we ought to be told why Yannick finds a date he booked three years ago to be suddenly and irrevocably incompatible. Hurt feelings, or something worse? He’s playing Philadelphia the week before, so he can’t be unwell.
The industry speculation is doing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra no good at all. And it won’t help Yannick’s future career if he can’t be more open about his likes and dislikes. Here’s Andrew Patner’s local take on the cancellation.


  • Marie Lamb says:

    A check of Maestro Nézet-Seguin’s website after 11 P.M. Eastern time on 12/30 shows that the cancelled dates have finally been removed; they were still up early Thursday afternoon, as mentioned on Andrew Patner’s blog. As for his “personal reasons,” they’re anyone’s guess at this writing. However, when cancelling such a high-profile gig, it makes sense to be open about the reason, if only so people won’t speculate, or even think something far worse than the truth. If Y.N.S. needs a breathing spell or has other reasons to cancel, the public will likely understand, but they need and deserve a chance to do so. This makes me think of your “fiddlers in the drink” photo from the article about publicist Constance Hope; perhaps an up-and-coming conductor like Nézet-Seguin needs the guiding hand of a publicist of similar skill so as to put a better face on such matters.

  • Ulysses says:

    It would be interesting to know the real reason, but I am not sure I entirely agree about the publicist. I can imagine CSO having him for breakfast. The amount of flack from the press, public and bloggers/tweeters/youtube posters pales into comparison with the ridicule that a conductor can suffer if the orchestra thinks he is a plonker

  • Sanda says:

    Nézet-Seguin just saw in the MET production of Don Carlo.
    NON Musician. All he has is YOUTH.
    They (WHO EVER HIRES THESE PEOPLE) seem to think that since Dudamel , lookalikes are the recommended medicine for orchestras, in the 21st Century.
    This guy needs to study and learn about music making.
    From what I heard in Don Carlo he needs serious musicianship lessons.
    And he gets the PHILLy Orchestra next year?
    Is there a wonder that classical music is in shambles?
    Chicago does no need him.
    It’s a joke. After Solti, THIS?
    The only thing in common might be the Hungarian name!
    Give me a break.

  • What Marie Lamb said.

  • William says:

    When you buy CSO tickets these days, you can never be quite sure what you are going to get.