Yannick: An Artist's Journey

REVIEW/PERSONA
Yannick: An Artist's Journey (2021) is a remarkable documentary, a very significant one, filled with real wisdom of being a person in this world, an individual. This movie shows how we can trust our inner children in choosing our dream career, being spontaneous but concentrated on what we've got for now and what possibilities can stem from that.
by Lera Grebennikova


19/10/2021
Yannick Nézet-Séguin is a living example of such wisdom. He is a Canadian pianist and conductor, and since 2018 he has been the musical director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He has been fully immersed into music from an early age till now. He studied piano at the Quebec Conservatoire, where he won five first prizes in various competitions, and then continued his studies in choral conducting at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey, USA. During this time Yannick was also participating in workshops given by many famous conductors, for example he met Carlo Maria Giulini, an eminent conductor, and studied with him for a year. In 1994, he became the Music Director of the Montreal Polyphonic Choir, and in 1995 of the Laval Choir. The Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2012 and the Orchestre Métropolitain of Montreal since 2000, he became the Honorary Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra after being their Music Director from 2008 to 2018. He is also an Honorary Member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

It is interesting to watch the changes in the his professional development through the years. He painted from early childhood to the age of 10. Yannick drew iconographic scenes with Jesus, and mostly his portraits, because he was fascinated by the church — he attended a parochial school, sang in the church choir. In addition, literally from birth, he was fully immersed into music, both pop and classical. He really loved it; his mother recalls that they owned a record player and Yannick asked to play different records so often that his parents taught him to cue it up himself. There was always music in their house, nonstop. Art and music were the two languages he was equally interested in. And then the moment of clarity came: little Yannick suddenly learned that there is a conductor profession, and abruptly stopped drawing. He pleaded his mother to call the conservatory and ask what he would need to do to become a conductor, probably because he knew that it would become his life's work.
Directed by Susan Froemke, an American film director and producer, this movie explores the conductor's roots through interviews with family members, early influences, and colleagues, as well as clips from Yannick's childhood home videos. All the stories of his childhood, adolescence, and youth are told by him, his mother, his piano teacher, and his close friend. All core information lays in actual conversations, interviews, and opinions.

It's worth remarking that this movie is a so-called cinema verité documentary, meaning that it shows us a maestro captured in his reality, in everyday situations. We can watch what he feels and how he reacts in various situations, both enlightening and discouraging. This film is amazing in its subjectivity – it is literally very close to Yannick himself. Furthermore, the movie is quite chamber-like, intimate, and this feeling is maintained visually. The shots are mostly from a first-person point of view, showing how Yannick sees the orchestra pit and the theatre stage, how he works with each member of the opera almost personally, individually. This approach gives us more understanding of his everyday work and makes us really relate to the maestro's routine.
All this characterizes the style of Yannick's rehearsals and work itself. In the musical and opera communities he is known for great attention to detail, thorough knowledge of the texts, and the context in which these texts existed and exist today – reception, to be more exact. Yannick's main method of working on musical scores is interpretation. In the movie he often asks both himself and the performers: «What do you think the author meant in these lines? What did the character feel? How can we show those feelings through music?». This theme is particularly exciting to the maestro, he gives himself completely to the process, as if he himself were a collection of all the instruments in the orchestra. While conducting, he is constantly on the move, as if his whole body takes in the sound and plays together with the orchestra.

This sensuality is not accidental. For example, the film tells the story of Yannick's first steps towards the professional field. At the age of 19, he and his friends organized a professional orchestra and choir, La Chapelle de Montréal. It was an important milestone in Yannick's life, because, among other things, it was the time of forming the basic taste in music. That orchestra often played sacred music — Bach, St. John Passion. It wasn't religious music, but it was very spiritual, and it influenced Yannick's future work-on-scores decisions. Yannick himself said that since childhood he had been drawn to sad, heartbreaking music. That probably influenced his actual work selections: dramatic and wailsome story of carmélites in Dialogues des Carmélites, grievous Violetta Valeri's fate in La Traviata.

Conducting is very complex, and the film is so amazingly constructed that the viewer is literally given a taste of the process. There is a lot of music in the film, which plays its own significant role in the story, not just a background. This is all music that Yannick himself has worked and is working on: In the 2009/10 season, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut with their new production of Carmen; then, he has returned each season to conduct Don Carlo, Faust, La Traviata, Rusalka, Otello, Parsifal and Elektra before he was named Music Director beginning with the season 2018-2019. During his first season in this position, which the movie touches upon, he conducts La Traviata and Dialogues des Carmélites.
The Artist's Way casually reminds us of important things and gives us a piece of adult advice. Even if you feel really talented, be prepared to work up a sweat to make something happen. "You have to discover your own talent," — says Yannick. And work for it every day, we bung in.
 
Yannick: An Artist's Journey
REVIEW/PERSONA
Yannick: An Artist's Journey (2021) is a remarkable documentary, a very significant one, filled with real wisdom of being a person in this world, an individual. This movie shows how we can trust our inner children in choosing our dream career, being spontaneous but concentrated on what we've got for now and what possibilities can stem from that.
by Lera Grebennikova


19/10/2021
Yannick Nézet-Séguin is a living example of such wisdom. He is a Canadian pianist and conductor, and since 2018 he has been the musical director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He has been fully immersed into music from an early age till now. He studied piano at the Quebec Conservatoire, where he won five first prizes in various competitions, and then continued his studies in choral conducting at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey, USA. During this time Yannick was also participating in workshops given by many famous conductors, for example he met Carlo Maria Giulini, an eminent conductor, and studied with him for a year. In 1994, he became the Music Director of the Montreal Polyphonic Choir, and in 1995 of the Laval Choir. The Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2012 and the Orchestre Métropolitain of Montreal since 2000, he became the Honorary Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra after being their Music Director from 2008 to 2018. He is also an Honorary Member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

It is interesting to watch the changes in the his professional development through the years. He painted from early childhood to the age of 10. Yannick drew iconographic scenes with Jesus, and mostly his portraits, because he was fascinated by the church — he attended a parochial school, sang in the church choir. In addition, literally from birth, he was fully immersed into music, both pop and classical. He really loved it; his mother recalls that they owned a record player and Yannick asked to play different records so often that his parents taught him to cue it up himself. There was always music in their house, nonstop. Art and music were the two languages he was equally interested in. And then the moment of clarity came: little Yannick suddenly learned that there is a conductor profession, and abruptly stopped drawing. He pleaded his mother to call the conservatory and ask what he would need to do to become a conductor, probably because he knew that it would become his life's work.


Directed by Susan Froemke, an American film director and producer, this movie explores the conductor's roots through interviews with family members, early influences, and colleagues, as well as clips from Yannick's childhood home videos. All the stories of his childhood, adolescence, and youth are told by him, his mother, his piano teacher, and his close friend. All core information lays in actual conversations, interviews, and opinions.

It's worth remarking that this movie is a so-called cinema verité documentary, meaning that it shows us a maestro captured in his reality, in everyday situations. We can watch what he feels and how he reacts in various situations, both enlightening and discouraging. This film is amazing in its subjectivity – it is literally very close to Yannick himself. Furthermore, the movie is quite chamber-like, intimate, and this feeling is maintained visually. The shots are mostly from a first-person point of view, showing how Yannick sees the orchestra pit and the theatre stage, how he works with each member of the opera almost personally, individually. This approach gives us more understanding of his everyday work and makes us really relate to the maestro's routine.


All this characterizes the style of Yannick's rehearsals and work itself. In the musical and opera communities he is known for great attention to detail, thorough knowledge of the texts, and the context in which these texts existed and exist today – reception, to be more exact. Yannick's main method of working on musical scores is interpretation. In the movie he often asks both himself and the performers: «What do you think the author meant in these lines? What did the character feel? How can we show those feelings through music?». This theme is particularly exciting to the maestro, he gives himself completely to the process, as if he himself were a collection of all the instruments in the orchestra. While conducting, he is constantly on the move, as if his whole body takes in the sound and plays together with the orchestra.

This sensuality is not accidental. For example, the film tells the story of Yannick's first steps towards the professional field. At the age of 19, he and his friends organized a professional orchestra and choir, La Chapelle de Montréal. It was an important milestone in Yannick's life, because, among other things, it was the time of forming the basic taste in music. That orchestra often played sacred music — Bach, St. John Passion. It wasn't religious music, but it was very spiritual, and it influenced Yannick's future work-on-scores decisions. Yannick himself said that since childhood he had been drawn to sad, heartbreaking music. That probably influenced his actual work selections: dramatic and wailsome story of carmélites in Dialogues des Carmélites, grievous Violetta Valeri's fate in La Traviata.


Conducting is very complex, and the film is so amazingly constructed that the viewer is literally given a taste of the process. There is a lot of music in the film, which plays its own significant role in the story, not just a background. This is all music that Yannick himself has worked and is working on: In the 2009/10 season, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut with their new production of Carmen; then, he has returned each season to conduct Don Carlo, Faust, La Traviata, Rusalka, Otello, Parsifal and Elektra before he was named Music Director beginning with the season 2018-2019. During his first season in this position, which the movie touches upon, he conducts La Traviata and Dialogues des Carmélites.

The Artist's Way casually reminds us of important things and gives us a piece of adult advice. Even if you feel really talented, be prepared to work up a sweat to make something happen. "You have to discover your own talent," — says Yannick. And work for it every day, we bung in.
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