Although Yannick Nezet-Seguin doesn't officially take over as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra until Oct. 18, the charismatic conductor has already become the orchestra’s superhero.

Since it declared bankruptcy in April, he is almost single-handedly fighting to restore the reputation of the Philadelphia Orchestra by persuading his illustrious friends in the musical world, such as soprano Renee Fleming, to appear and donating two additional weeks of appearances for a total of nine this season. He also will take the Orchestra back to the Academy of Music, a Philadelphia favorite, for a series of concerts in June.

At a public Q&A held at the Kimmel Center last week — another example of his efforts to lead the orchestra in a more democratic and accessible way — the man who seems suited for single name recognition, Yannick, declared, “I want to be in the hearts of all Philadelphians.”

He plans to work on joint productions with other performing arts groups and move the orchestra into theater, concerts and opera.


On Saturday night, Yannick led an orchestra performance at the 155th Academy of Music Concert and Ball.

"I am overwhelmed with joy to be part of the history of this magnificent building," he exclaimed from the stage before 1,350 guests, which included Gov. Tom Corbett, Aramark CEO Joseph Neubauer and members of Sun Oil’s and Comcast’s founding families.

They paid from $350 to $2,500 to enter an Academy of Music rolled back in time to give it a “Phantom of Opera” look. The front section of seats were removed and replaced with cocktail tables.

Sheer white curtains were hung in place of the traditional heavy red brocade curtains. After the concert, revelers kept the Grand Lady of Broad Street awake into late into the evening.

Yannick “the next Bernstein”

Johanna McNeil Lewis, a Ball co-chairman and the academy’s main
benefactor, said, “We wanted ball attendees this year to experience the
Academy as its first guests in 1857 did.”

John Saler of law firm
Stradley Ronon, who previously convinced Wawa to underwrite the city’s
Welcome America Independence Day celebrations, was honored to be asked
to be one of the chairmen of this year’s ball.

“Yannick is a
rock star, the next Leonard Bernstein,” Ronon said of the 36-year-old

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