Just in: Canada’s newest music director is 26 years old

Just in: Canada’s newest music director is 26 years old


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2017

Andrei Feher, a Canadian of Romanian birth, is to be music director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, it was announced today. He’s an early riser who has worked as assistant to Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Paavo Järvi.

He succeeds Edwin Outwater in August 2018.


  • Jon H says:

    Reiner was 60 when he went to Chicago, and Toscanini 80 when he worked with NBC – arguably the peaks of their careers. Dorati among others have said younger conductors should learn their craft in less noticeable positions. There really isn’t a problem with any of the music directors in top positions today, except that there might be some things they’d do better if they were a little older. The public may have personal favorites, but the talent is there if you look at what conductors of the past were like at that age. Just in some cases the orchestras are playing better than they can conduct – so Dorati has a good point.

    • Kenneth Berv says:

      Actually, Toscanini began the NBC as a “youth” at 67 in 1937, and retired at 84 in 1954. It’s worth watching the kinescopes of the 1952 televised performances-(available on YouTube-Sibelius En Saga, Franck Redemption, Respighi Pines of Rome, Beethoven 5) his vitality at 82 is astounding.

      • Kenneth Berv says:

        However, AT began his conducting career at age 19:

        Toscanini was born in Parma, Emilia-Romagna, and won a scholarship to the local music conservatory, where he studied the cello. Living conditions at the conservatory were harsh. For example, his diet consisted almost completely of fish. When he became successful, he never ate anything that came from the sea. He joined the orchestra of an opera company, with which he toured South America in 1886. While presenting Aida in Rio de Janeiro on June 25, Leopoldo Miguez, the locally hired conductor, reached the summit of a two-month escalating conflict with the performers due to his rather poor command of the work, to the point that the singers went on strike and forced the company’s general manager to seek a substitute conductor. Carlo Superti and Aristide Venturi tried unsuccessfully to finish the work. In desperation, the singers suggested the name of their assistant Chorus Master, who knew the whole opera from memory. Although he had no conducting experience, Toscanini was eventually persuaded by the musicians to take up the baton at 9:15 pm, and led a performance of the two-and-a-half hour opera, completely from memory. The public was taken by surprise, at first by the youth and sheer aplomb of this unknown conductor, then by his solid mastery. The result was astounding acclaim. For the rest of that season, Toscanini conducted eighteen operas, all with absolute success. Thus began his career as a conductor, at age 19.[2][3]


  • jim says:

    Dorati got his first job as MD when he was 31

  • V.Lind says:

    Well trained, experience with P Jarvi and Yannick N-S (who was not much older when he got Rotterdam, and that has kinda worked out) . And K-W is a small regional orchestra. By all accounts a very good one, but not in the big leagues. The young man apparently developed some rapport with the musicians when he guested. Seems to me this is precisely the sort of orchestra and music community a young conductor should start with.

  • Galen Johnson says:

    Fritz Reiner became First Conductor in Dresden when he was around 26. But then, he was Fritz Reiner.

    • V.Lind says:

      Well, he was just Fritz Reiner when he started. Who ever knows if one day we will be saying, “But he was Andrei Feher”?

  • James says:

    According to many of the commenters here, conductors should stay away from their precious and profoundly discerning ears and conduct the Northern Swedish Arctic Amateur Wind Band and Percussion Ensemble for Senior Citizens until they turn 60 and they miraculously become capable of conducting the Berlin Philharmonic.

    Do the commenters realize that to get better, conductors need to actually conduct good orchestras? It’s the best possible way to learn. Good orchestras teach you when you are needed and when you aren’t. Bad orchestras need you all the time. Good orchestras will give you valuable comments and advice about your conducting, bad ones won’t or will give you terrible advice. The list can go on forever.

    Are some young conductors pushed too hard and too fast or are too ambitious? Sure! But that doesn’t mean a 26 year old highly talented conductor like Feher doesn’t deserve to be the director a quite good mid-size Canadian orchestra. It’s a fantastic place for a conductor to learn and he will be better for it in 34 years when he turns 60 and suddenly becomes a conductor worth of respect from the armchair conductors of Slipped Disc.

  • phf655 says:

    His last name, which means ‘White’ in Hungarian, suggests that he must be of Transylvanian origin. That region was part of Hungary until 1918 and still has a sizable Hungarian-speaking minority.