Who’ll succeed Nagano in Montreal? Yannick says no

Who’ll succeed Nagano in Montreal? Yannick says no


norman lebrecht

June 30, 2017

The local hero has been quick to scotch suggestions that he might switch from the Orchestre Métropolitain to the international Montrea Symphony Orchestra when its music director departs in 202o.

Yannick tweeted:


So who, then?

Arthur Kaptanis suggests one of three recent visitors: Vasily Petrenko, Juanjo Mena and Miguel Harth-Bedoya.

Small problem: none of them speaks French.

How about Ludovic Morlot? He comes free at Seattle around the right time.



  • Emil says:

    Well duh. When’s the last time a conductor was MD for two orchestras in the same town?

    As for Petrenko, his concerts in Montreal were extremely highly rated and the orchestra liked. Morlot, on the other hand, not so much. He is largely remembered for getting lost in conducting a world premiere of Walter Boudreau’s Concerto Pour l’Asile (with Alain Lefèvre) and having to stop the orchestra. So not exactly a stellar job interview, and I don’t know if he’s been back in Montreal since (it was 2013).

    The French factor will be crucial in Montreal. That being said, a genuine commitment to learn – followed by progress – will be accepted by the public. Nagano’s French was passable, but his commitment to always address the public bilingually and to make an effort to speak French was very appreciated by the public. So it doesn’t need to be a native French speaker, although whoever gets the job better learn some French in his/her first year in office.

    My hunch at the moment is that if Petrenko wants the job, he’s ahead. But then 2020 is far away, and the OSM has plenty of time to choose.

    • erich says:

      Pappano speaks fluent French…

      • Emil says:

        Now that would be a dream. But Pappano’s never really had a North American career; would he be interested in starting now?

        Other question: will the uncertainty South of the border influence Canadian appointments? Could Montreal/Toronto scoop up someone who wants out of the US, or will some stay away because using Canada as a base to explore the US market makes less sense. This is, of course, bearing in mind that things might change in 2020 there too, but since appointments are made in advance…

    • MacroV says:

      No idea if Morlot would be a good candidate, but holding a foul-up in Boudreau’s piece against him would be kind of unfair. He was game enough to take on (and IIRC at fairly short notice) a world premiere, a piece he’s unlikely ever to conduct again. What about the typical guest-conductor program of overture, well-known Romantic concerto, and Top 10 symphony?

  • Ben says:

    Bravo Yannick!!!!!

  • Sergio Monjas says:

    IMHO Maestro John Axelrod would be ideal to take over the mantle of Nagano, he can also do dual jobs as the Music Director and the CEO of the Montreal Symphony similar to what he is doing in Sevilla currently.

    • Emil says:

      Um…no. I don’t know Axelrod at all, but the OSM already has a head of the board of governors (Lucien Bouchard), a CEO, a COO (Madeleine Careau and Marie-Josée Desrochers – two women!) and they’re not going anywhere. Besides, the OSM is too big a machine for one person to steer alone.

  • Michael says:

    I still believe that either Toronto or Montreal would be smart to consider Ludovic Morlot.

  • Gilles says:

    Harding speaks french too and seems unhappy in Paris …

  • MacroV says:

    Obviously YNS isn’t going to move to the OSM. He already has two huge jobs. And his loyalty to OM can only be admired. However, AFAIK there isn’t great will between YNS and the OSM from years ago when they weren’t too respectful to him. It would be nice to see him guest-conduct the OSM on occasion; in Berlin both Barenboim and Ivan Fischer work regularly with the Philharmonic despite leading other ensembles in the city.

    As for successors to Nagano, no idea. But it’s a gig any conductor would be lucky to get.

    • Mikey says:

      No conductor who has been head of the OM has ever been invited to conduct the OSM. There’s a terrible rivalry and a deep ditch full of undeserved pretension between the two.

      • MacroV says:

        I saw the previous director of OM (why am I forgetting his name) guest-conduct the OSM in 2002 (admittedly a last-minute sub and it was a summer show). I don’t know about rivalry: Rivalry implies relatively evenly-matched entities, like Federer and Nadal. The OSM is a major, top-tier international orchestra, OM an ensemble of fine local freelancers, with what – one fifth the budget? It’s not even Vienna Philharmonic/Vienna SO. I suspect the OSM would love to have YNS guest-conduct.

      • Emil says:

        2 things:
        1- As Macrov states, there’s a huge difference in level of conductors and soloists between the OSM and the OM. They simply play in different leagues.
        2- The OSM, for better and for worse, demands the exclusivity on an artist in Montreal in a given season.

  • Max Grimm says:

    Don’t know about Petrenko or Harth-Bedoya but Juanjo Mena speaks French, Norman.

    • Herr Doktor says:

      Having heard all three live, EASILY I would want Juanjo Mena. He’s delivered a number of outstanding concerts heard here in Boston. His Bruckner 6 which one can watch from a liver concert on YouTube (I think a Proms concert) is excellent. And I will never, ever forget the astonishing performance I heard of him conducting Schubert’s 9th with the Boston Symphony. Having heard him conduct three different programs live, I think he’s the real deal.

  • Orchestra Manager says:

    Alain Altinoglu would be an excellent choice. And he is French…..

  • Orchestra Manager says:

    ALAIN ALTINOGLU would be an excellent choice! And he is French….

  • DInguy says:

    John Puh-lease. That is laughable. His one outing with the LA Phil was a disaster.

  • Ben says:

    Alondra de la Parra seems to have great chemistry with French.



    • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

      Yeah, she would be the perfect one whom French-speaking people deserve!

      • Emil says:

        I’m not sure if this is meant to be a joke, sarcasm, or an insult to all francophones, but either way it smacks of sexism towards Ms Alondra de la Parra.

  • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    Alondra is a gorgeous, self-confident conductor, and people love her. French people love beautiful, self-confident women, as manifested by La Parisienne, and numerous examples in art and literature. They are a perfect match! What is the problem with it? And what is the problem with you?

    Gradually I am getting sick and tired of these Scheinheilige, who claim to defend discrimination and sexism against women, but their over sensitive reaction in effect reveal their unequal thinking and treatment towards women which deeply root in their mind, and maybe their culture. For instance, just look at the vocabulary of English, “MAN-made satellite, HIStory, one-MAN show, MANkind etc.” Have you ever think about that such obvious language abuse & discrimination against women is actually quite a unique problem of your own culture?

    Please don’t make vicious and evil presumption against other people. Women have the rights to be beautiful. And others have the rights to love beautiful women!

    • Emil says:

      You seem to be the only person unaware that the clip above is very commonly used to deride Ms De La Parra on this blog (in a very sexist way, hence my comment). You seem also to have missed the obvious sarcasm by Ben, that a conductor would be more sensible to the French language because she once conducted an orchestra in Paris (by speaking English, judging by the clip!).
      As for you writing that “French-speaking people deserve!” her, I am baffled by what that means, so I hope you’ll forgive me for reading that as sarcasm (in what way does a “people” “deserve” a conductor, in particular based on language – and does this mean Anglophone Montrealers do not “deserve” anyone?).

      So I apologise for what seems to be a linguistic misunderstanding.

      • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

        Before posting my comment, I actually clicked the clip suggested by Ben and found it pretty cool. Maybe because of my utter stupidity, I was totally unaware of any malicious intention behind this clip (isn’t it from the official channel of Orchestre de Paris???) and could not imagine why people would not enjoy watching her conducting. I could not notice any verbal communication between the conductor and the orchestra either, so I was unenlightened about the fact that the conductor didn’t speak French at all!

        It seems that I totally missed the subtle pointe hidden between the lines and I want to apologize for my agitated overreaction and some of the inadequate wording, sir!

        • Emil says:

          It is indeed an official promo clip and I, like you, see absolutely nothing wrong with it. To a number of misogynists on this site, however, the fact that she is moving a lot, almost like dancing, is taken to mean that she is incompetent, and gets jobs merely because of affirmative action (or, in the case of one commentator here, as proof that all women are incompetent conductors).

          Back to the OSM: while she has gotten a few guest conducting opportunities at high level, she’s not (yet) of the calibre of Nagano, Dutoit, etc. As far as I know, she’s never conducted in Montreal, although she did conduct the symphony orchestra in Québec a few years back, to excellent reviews.

          • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

            I appreciate your taking the time to clarify some background information to someone who had been kept in the dark.

  • MacroV says:

    Maybe Susanna Malkki? I believe she’s conducted the OSM, has a high and growing profile, and presumably speaks French, having led the Ensemble Intercontemporain (and conducted Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin at the MET). Helsinki and Montreal would be a manageable combination. And she seems to have the kind of hipness that could work in Montreal. No idea if they liked her, though.

    • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

      Speaking of French-speaking female conductors, Nathalie Stutzmann, a native French, would be another wonderful choice!

      On the contrary to Susanna Mälkki, who made a name with her contribution to modern music, Stutzmann is a HIP specialist, which is also cool ~~

  • PAM says:

    Actually, Miguel Harth-Bedoya speaks approximately 6 languages, five of them fluently, including French. Arthur Kaptainis’ original article in The Montreal Gazette made the point that none of the guest conductor spoke French as a “first language.”

  • Spencer Roth says:


    If I had to choose right now, my candidate is in the video. Amazing, indeed.

  • Kanadier in Wien says:

    Philippe Jordan.

  • Dion says:

    Why searching abroad? Jacques Lacombe would be an excellent candidate and he said that he was interested. He is very well acquainted with the orchestra, as he has been the interim conductor of the OSM during 3 years.
    Otherwise, Vasily Petrenko would be a great choice. His french? After 2 or 3 years of learning french, I am sure that he will speak it better than Nagano… difficult to do worst! I saw Petrenko in rehearsal with the students of the Conservatoire de musique du Québec, he is certainly an inspiring and very efficient conductor. Moreover he’s a handsome and charming guy.