The Canadian conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, is the son of two specialists in education, Serge P. Séguin, Ph.D., a university professor, and Claudine Nézet, M.A., a university lecturer and coordinator. He began to study piano at age 5, with Jeanne-d'Arc Lebrun-Lussier and decided to become an orchestra conductor at age 10. Nézet-Séguin studied successively at St-Isaac-Jogues Primary School, at Mont-St-Louis Secondary School and at Bois-de-Boulogne College. In the meantime, he was admitted to Anisia Campos' piano class, at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec where he earned five first prizes in piano and in four related musical subjects. He also studied choral conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey and did many master-classes with renowned conductors. At 19, he met and was invited to follow Carlo Maria Giulini in rehearsals and concerts for more than a year. He became the musical director of the Chœur polyphonique de Montréal in 1994 and obtained the same post at Choeur de Laval in 1995. In 1995, he founded his own professional orchestral and vocal ensemble, La Chapelle de Montréal, with whom he performed 2 to 4 concerts a year until 2002. He considers Charles Dutoit as his first inspiration as a child and Carlo Maria Giulini as his master.
From 1998 to 2002, Yannick Nézet-Séguin was chorus master, assistant conductor and music adviser of the Opéra de Montréal. He became Music Director of the Orchestre Métropolitain in Monreal in 2000, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra in 2003. His most recent contract with the Orchestre Métropolitain, through 2010, has since been extended through 2015. He has conducted commercial recordings of symphonies of Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler with the Orchestre Métropolitain. He has also conducted all the major ensembles in his native Canada.
In 2005, Yannick Nézet-Séguin guest-conducted the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (RPhO) for the first time, and returned in 2006. In December 2006, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra announced the appointment of Nézet-Séguin as their 11th Principal Conductor, by a unanimous vote, starting with the 2008-2009 concert season, with an initial contract of 4 years. In April 2010, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra announced the extension of his contract through 2015. With the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Nézet-Séguin has recorded commercially for Virgin Classics and for EMI.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin made his UK conducting debut with the Northern Sinfonia in the 2005-2006 season. He debuted with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) in March 2007, and with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in April 2007. In November 2007, the London Philharmonic Orchestra appointed Nézet-Séguin as their Principal Guest Conductor, starting with the 2008-2009 season. In May 2010, the London Philharmonic Orchestra announced the extension of his contract as principal guest conductor through the 2013-2014 season.
His European debut in 2004 swiftly led to invitations to many ensembles, such as the Dresden Staatskapelle, Berliner Philharmoniker, Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphonieorchester, Wiener Philharmoniker (in Salzburg, Lucerne and Vienna), Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He made his BBC Proms debut in 2009 with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, returning the following year with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Summer 2012 saw concerts with the Orchestre Métropolitain in Canada; The Philadelphia Orchestra in Vail and Saratoga; and concerts at Lincoln Centerís Mostly Mozart Festival in New York with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra.
A notable opera conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin made his debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2008 with a new production of Roméo et Juliette, returning to the city for the 2010 Mozartwoche and for Don Giovanni at the 2010 and 2011 summer festivals. He his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, on December 31, 2009, conducting a new production of Carmen, followed by Don Carlo in 2010, Faust in 2011 and La traviata in 2013, and will continue to appear each season thereafter. In 2011 he made his debut at Teatro alla Scala in Milan with Roméo et Juliette. He also made his Royal Opera House debut when he conducted Antonín Dvořák's Rusalka, which was staged for the very first time at Covent Garden in 2012, and returns in a later season. For Netherlands Opera, he has conducted The Makropoulos Case, Turandot and Don Carlo (all with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra) and in 2011, embarked on a major opera series for Festspielhaus Baden-Baden.
In December 2008, Yannick Nézet-Séguin made his first appearance with the Philadelphia Orchestra, at the invitation of Charles Dutoit. He returned for a second guest-conducting engagement in December 2009. In June 2010, he was named the 8th Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, starting with the 2012-2013 season. He immediately assumed the title of Music Director Designate, with a scheduled duration under that title from 2010 to 2012, with 2 weeks of scheduled appearances in the 2010-2011 season, and 5 weeks of scheduled appearances in the 2011-2012 season. His initial contract as music director is for 5 seasons, with 7 weeks of scheduled concerts in the 2012-2013 season, 15 weeks in the next 2 seasons, and 16 weeks in the subsequent 2 seasons of his Philadelphia contract.
Yannick Nézet-Séguinís inaugural concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra in October 2012 were most warmly received and included his acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut (Verdi Requiem). During this season he will premiere with the Philadelphia Orchestra several new works by preeminent composers Gabriela Lena Frank, Osvaldo Golijov, and Oliver Knussen. Alongside regular subscription and touring programmes, he will lead three Carnegie Hall concerts each season and will make their first recording together for Deutsche Grammophon later this season. Other highlights of 2012-2013 include two separate tours to Japan and the Far East with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra; a German tour with the London Philharmonic Orchestra; and the complete Schumann symphonies and concertos with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, which he recorded live last November for Deutsche Grammophon from Cité de la Musique in Paris.
In July 2012, following highly successful DVD releases of Charles Gounodís Roméo et Juliette (Salzburg Festival, 2008) and Georges Bizetís Carmen (The Metropolitan Opera, 2010) for their Yellow Label, Deutsche Grammophon announced a major long-term collaboration. Alongside his Philadelphia Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe recordings, he makes a series of three recordings with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, starting with Tchaikovskyís Sixth Symphony; and live recordings of Mozartís seven mature operas from the Baden-Baden Summer Festival. The first, Don Giovanni, was recorded in 2011 with Mahler Chamber Orchestra and released last year to outstanding reviews and will be followed in 2013 by the release of Così fan tutte, recorded last summer with Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Remaining titles in the series are Idomeneo, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Le nozze di Figaro, La clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflöte. Mr Nézet-Séguinís discography with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra also includes recordings of Strauss (Ein Heldenleben/Vier letzte Lieder) and Berlioz (Symphonie fantastique/La Mort de Cléopâtre) for BIS Records; and three EMI/Virgin releases, including an Edison Award-winning album of Ravelís orchestral works. With the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir he has recorded Johannes Brahmsís German Requiem on the LPOís own label; he also continues to enjoy a fruitful recording relationship with Orchestre Métropolitain and Canadian label ATMA Classique.
His honours include a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award; Canadaís highly coveted National Arts Centre Award and the Prix Denise-Pelletier, the highest distinction for the arts in Quebec, awarded by the Quebec government. In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Quebec in Montreal and was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2012.