Yannick sits on Carnegie stage and stares down latecomers

Yannick sits on Carnegie stage and stares down latecomers


norman lebrecht

May 15, 2015

Paul Pelkonen has the first review from last night’s Philadelphia concert:

At the start of the second half, Mr. Nézet-Séguin prepared to give the downbeat for the first solemn notes of the Symphony No. 3 by Serge Rachmaninoff. Then, stragglers entered Stern Auditorium, making for their seats. He stopped, turned, and regarded them for a moment. Then, he sat down on the side of the podium, knees drawn under his chin like a little boy on the stairs. As the latecomers trickled in, the audience muttered, murmured, laughed and applauded his decision. He stood up, looked behind him and sat down on the other side of the podium. Finally, he rose and got to work. As the first notes played, two more people tottered to their seats.

Those notes were worth the wait.

Read the full review here.

yannick carnegie



  • Milka says:

    He keeps the Stokowski tradition going .

  • Robert Roy says:

    I remember Paavo Berglund stopping the SNO after the beginning of Schubert’s Fifth Symphony to reproach latecomers.

  • hyprocritesgalore says:

    He should have gotten on with the show instead of becoming a side show.

    • Olaugh Turchev says:

      Yes but what would not have been tolerated from some will be praised from The Chosen Ones…

    • sdReader says:


    • JJC says:

      ‘The show’. You know, language is supposed to mean something and your usage is very revealing. You degrade the art, you degrade the experience and I suspect that you are entirely unaware of it. It’s not a show, pal, it’s a concert and very different standards apply. So, go to ‘shows’, enjoy them, but don’t lecture those of us who know the difference and wish to preserve the sanctity of the concert hall.

  • William Zucker says:

    In other words, he should have gotten on with it while stragglers with no sense of time were disturbing others while they pushed their way to their seats, becoming a serious distraction and breaking all concentration of interested listeners. The vast majority, myself included, would disagree with you.

  • John Lancaster says:

    Bravo, Yannick. He made his feelings known without a word or regret, then went on to perform a great symphony, That’s how you do it.

  • NYMike says:

    As the Philadelphia Orchestra embarks Monday on a European tour, I trust it will remind the Eurocentrics that it takes no backseat to the BPO, VPO, BRSO, etc. For my ears (I’m a retired professional musician) only the RCOAmsterdam matches this orchestra in tonal suavity, blend, intonation – you get the picture.

    Last night’s Carnegie rendition of Rach 3 was merely SENSATIONAL. I felt Ormandy’s ghost floating around. Pelkonen’s description of the rest of the program is spot on.

    • Paul Pelkonen says:

      Thank you!

    • bassist says:

      Couldn’t agree more… the PO is my favorite orchestra in the world.

    • Angela says:

      Hear hear. And PO and YNS are def a match made in heaven. Thank god they’re leaving their awful acoustics at home to play in some of the world’s greatest halls. It’s a pity Philly doesn’t have a hall to match it’s orchestra.

  • stweart says:

    What were the ushers doing ?
    Stragglers shouldn’t be admitted once the orchestra has settled!

  • Brian says:

    There must have been a full moon last night in New York. During the Lang Lang recital at the Met Museum two teenagers approached him on stage between pieces and asked to perform — then and there. He told them “not now… let’s talk about this later!” Viewers of the video webcast on Twitter were completely perplexed and the Met didn’t seem to have any security there to take away the would-be pianists. Very odd.

  • PhilOrchFan says:

    I’ve seen Yannick do this before. The Philadelphia Orchestra has a student program whereby student ticket holders are seated in empty seats, which works well most of the times, but occasionally the actual ticket holders arrive late and find their seats occupied. Once, in between the first and second pieces of the first half of the concert, some late arrivals found their seats occupied and the student ticket holders were displaced, and the ushers had trouble finding vacant seats. Yannick, realizing the commotion from the corner of his eyes, sat down on the podium, watched in amusement (or at least pretend amusement) for about 30 seconds, then yelled out that there are some empty seats right in front of him in the first row. When everyone was finally seated, Yannick stood up and made an exaggerated gesture as if to dust off dirt from his suit. The audience and the orchestra all had a good laugh. Then the music started and the orchestra sounded as sublime as ever.

    • musician says:

      I thought this sounded familiar… I think I played for this week with the orchestra… was this Tchaikovsky 5?? Anyways, yes. I can’t see him doing this for any other reason than to give the patrons a chance to find their seats and to makes things better for everyone… less distraction for us performers (yes, it really is distracting to begin a piece with such commotion out in the audience) and certainly less distraction for the other listeners. Not to mention letting the latecomers have a chance to be seated to enjoy the show!

  • Daniel Farber says:

    There are ways conductors have of making their displeasure known in these situations without grossly calling attention to THEMSELVES. [redacted]

    • musician says:

      I doubt Yannick was making his displeasure known… really just doing a favor for everyone involved…

  • Barbara Kim says:

    At first, this seemed obnoxiously entitled — don’t we have enough trouble getting people to come, and where were the ushers? But after reading the comments, it does sound very funny, and maybe it was the perfect thing. File it under “you gotta be there.”

    • SVM says:

      [sarcasm alert]

      So “obnoxiously entitled” of those musicians to expect not to be interrupted, because, after all, we pay to watch fellow audience-members stroll in and out whenever they like, right?

  • Rgiarola says:

    Reminds me Concertgebouw orchestra and Haitink on 1984, at São Paulo Memorial da America Latina. Just after the first downbeat the whole hall went of lights/Power and just the emergeny lights on. Haitink sat down at the podium for some minutes until the lights turned on again.

  • bratschegirl says:

    At the start of the second half, the stage manager should have held the maestro backstage until the house indicated that it was time to proceed. If this is a consistent issue in this venue, perhaps the interval needs to be extended 5 minutes or so to get everyone in and out of the loo. I wouldn’t want to sit through a Rachmaninoff symphony without having taken care of all necessary business…

  • Vegan Great White Shark says:

    For those who have been lucky to regularly attend Yannick’s Philadelphia Orchestra concerts at Kimmel Center, this humorous act to defuse an awkward situation would be no surprise. He’s truly an energetic, talented musician who simply enjoy music making and share that joy with others.

    No genius on fire marketing gimmick, no bigger than life ego, no b.s. political views, no prima donna maestro attitude. IMHO he knows much better than other musicians about the fact that they need the audience/community much more than the other way around.

    All those maestros, soloists et al who confront audience in negative and unprofessional way should learn a few things from him.

  • Peter Phillips says:

    I remember Sir Adrian Boult politely allowing two latecomers to take their seats and then enquiring, “May we begin?” Also Maurice Handford ironically directing latecomers to seats in Birmingham Town Hall.

    • Alasdair Munro says:

      I remember the LMP under Harry Blech pausing between movements while a couple of ladies clip-clopped to their front seats under the glare of the leader (John Bacon?) in Maidstone about 1976. Harry Blech just moved his stick in time with the footsteps.

  • Luk says:

    I’m perfectly fine with conductors shaming the latecomers: the duration of the interval is well known in advance and there are at least two calls for the beginning of the second half. People that are late do not have real excuses and disrupt the concert and the concentration of the performers.

  • Max Grimm says:

    He could have tried Danny Kaye’s method (starting at time-index 19:35):

  • May says:

    I too, respect the sanctity of the concert hall, which is I why I assert, that the conductor sitting down on the podium is just infantile beyond belief. And to think that this bozo was being considered for the Berliner Philharmoniker.

    • Daniel Farber says:

      Seems to me like he’s being looked at very carefully as James Levine’s potential successor as the Met Opera’s music director. (Hope there’s nothing to redact here, Norman. What you eliminated above merely quoted Paul P’s initial review/description: “little boy”.)

      • Paul Pelkonen says:

        There was no disrespect intended it was just the position he was in and it was playful and mischievous

  • Barbara Kim says:

    I’m a string player in one of the big five. And I stand by the entitlement comment. Most of us couldn’t care less, except for driving audiences away, which apparently is something you favor.

    • William Zucker says:

      It’s not a matter of driving audiences away. Those who have no consideration for others trying to enjoy the music are not really there to enjoy the music and should not be there in the first place. Plenty of those in our audiences today, unfortunately, and not simply late comers, but those exhibiting other obnoxious behaviors.

  • Orchestral Musician says:

    My mother attended a Cleveland Orchestra concert in the 60’s, when they were on tour in the mid-west of the US. To quiet a group of noisy late arrivals, George Szell turned around and glared at the full-house, with his infamous gaze, which silenced the hall instantly. She said it was one of the most frightening moments of her life.
    Yannick’s method is far more friendly and humane.
    YNS and the Philadelphia Orchestra are one of the greatest artistic collaborations that can be experienced today. I hope Philadelphians know how lucky they are!