Not only is he the musical director of three of the world’s leading orchestras, but also one of the most sought-after conductors of our time. We had the pleasure of meeting Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the MET Opera in New York to mark the soundtrack to the latest Leonard Bernstein film and discuss his great idol “Lenny”, Hollywood and modern classical music.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin was first introduced to Leonard Bernstein when he was just twelve years old and used his pocket money to buy one of his first vinyl records: Leonard Bernstein conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker in Brahms’ Fourth Symphony. From then on, the great American composer accompanied him as a young musician throughout his career, eventually becoming one of his strongest influences. Over 35 years after that first encounter, there was arguably no better person to record the soundtrack for the Bernstein biopic. The Netflix production, Maestro, was released in winter 2023, both directed by and starring Bradley Cooper as Bernstein, and with Nézet-Séguin himself teaching the Hollywood star how to conduct - or “coaching” him, as the Canadian describes it.

As chief conductor of the MET Opera in New York, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Orchestre Métropolitain in his hometown, Nézet-Séguin despite his busy schedule, has also made it his mission to turn the world of classical music upside down and open its doors to everyone in society, whether musically trained or not. “It’s [like] cuisine,” the Canadian explains, “[if] you go to a restaurant, you don’t need to know how to cook to appreciate a good meal.”

As well as performances of adapted screenplays and modern history, opera is being opened to interpretations by contemporary artists of different genders and ethnicities, as fixed categories within classical music are being broken down - in keeping with the legacy of his idol “Lenny”, who Nézet-Séguin says was always “creating bridges”. But you can see for yourself…

Yannick Nézet-Séguin on Bernstein, coaching Bradley Cooper for ‘Maestro’ & classical music today