BIOGRAPHY: Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Hélène Grimaud

BIOGRAPHY: Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Hélène Grimaud 2014-06-27T15:04:59+00:00

Rotterdam-PhilharmonicThe Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra ranks among Europe’s foremost orchestras and is internationally known for the intense energy of its performances, acclaimed recordings and innovative audience approach. With performances at local venues and the most prestigious halls worldwide, the orchestra reaches an annual audience of 150,000 to 200,000. The 2012-2013 touring schedule comprises two tours of Eastern Asia, plus concerts in such prestigious concert halls as the Vienna Musikverein and the Paris Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

Music Directors

The Rotterdam Philharmonic was founded in 1918. From 1930, under chief-conductor Eduard Flipse, it developed into one of the foremost orchestras of the Netherlands. In the 1970s, with Jean Fournet and Edo de Waart, the orchestra gained international recognition. In 1995, Valery Gergiev’s appointment as Music Director heralded a new period of bloom. He was succeeded by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, with whom the orchestra has made numerous successful tours and recordings. As of the 2012-2013 season, Jiří Bělohlávek will join the Rotterdam Philharmonic as its Principal Guest Conductor.


De Doelen Concert Hall is the home of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, but the orchestra can frequently be heard in other locations – from the local venues to the most prestigious halls at home and abroad. In 2010 the orchestra assumed a residency in the Paris Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, where it is one of the principal guest orchestras. With all of its concerts, educational performances and community projects the Rotterdam Philharmonic reaches an annual audience of 150,000 to 200,000.


Since the ground-breaking Mahler recordings with Eduard Flipse in the 1950s, the Rotterdam Philharmonic has made a large number of critically lauded recordings, including an internationally awarded Ravel CD with Yannick Nézet-Séguin. CDs with the orchestra appear on labels as EMI/Virgin Classics and BIS Records; in early 2012, the Rotterdam Philharmonic signed a contract with Deutsche Grammophon for at least three CD releases with Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The orchestra has formed its own label, Rotterdam Philharmonic Vintage Recordings, for the rereleasing of historical recordings.

This performance marks The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra’s La Jolla Music Society debut.

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Rotterdam OrchestraYannick Nézet-Séguin (b. Montreal, 1975) has been music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic since 2008. He received his first piano lessons at the age of five. At the Montreal conservatory he studied piano, composition, chamber music and orchestral conducting. At the same time he was trained in choral conducting at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. After his graduation he continued his studies with some of the greatest conductors, among whom was Carlo Maria Giulini.

In 2000 Yannick Nézet-Séguin was appointed artistic leader and principal conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal – a position he still holds. The same year he conducted his first opera production. Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s European debut, in 2004 with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, propelled his career. That season he debuted with seven orchestras, all of which immediately invited him back.

In 2005 Yannick Nézet-Séguin made his debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, which appointed him music director as of the 2008/2009 season. Yannick Nézet-Séguin is also music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra (starting 2012/2013) and principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (since 2008/2009). As a guest conductor he worked with all major orchestras worldwide, and he conducted opera productions in the most prestigious theatres.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic have made numerous successful tours, including concerts in London, Paris, Vienna, New York, Toronto, Tokyo and Beijing. In addition, they embarked upon a series of much lauded CDs, including an internationally awarded recording of orchestral works by Maurice Ravel for EMI Classics. Furthermore, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra combined their versatility in projects ranging from operas to family shows and from subscription concerts to community projects.
The 2012/2013 schedule for Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic comprises two tours of Eastern Asia, concerts in the Grafenegg Festival and the Vienna Musikverein, a prolongation of their residency in the Paris Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and the first of a series of CD recordings for the Deutsche Grammophon label.

This performance marks Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s La Jolla Music Society debut.

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Helene-GrimaudShe could be called a Renaissance woman for our times. Hélène Grimaud is not just a deeply passionate and committed musical artist whose pianistic accomplishments play a central role in her life; she is a woman with multiple talents that extend far beyond the instrument she plays with such poetic expression and peerless technical control. The French artist has established herself as a committed wildlife conservationist, a compassionate human rights activist and as a writer.

Grimaud was born in 1969 in Aix-en-Provence where she began her piano studies at the conservatory with Jacqueline Courtin and subsequently under Pierre Barbizet in Marseille. She was accepted into the Paris Conservatoire at just 13 and won first prize in piano performance a mere three years later. She continued to study with György Sándor and Leon Fleisher until, in 1987, she gave her well-received debut recital in Tokyo. The same year the renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim invited her to perform with the Orchestre de Paris.
This marked the launch of Grimaud’s musical career – one highlighted by concerts with most of the world’s major orchestras and many celebrated conductors. Her recordings have been critically acclaimed and awarded numerous accolades, among them the Cannes Classical Recording of the Year, Choc du Monde de la musique, Diapason d’or, Grand Prix du disque, Record Academy Prize (Tokyo), Midem Classic Award and the Echo Award.

Between her debut in 1995 with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Claudio Abbado and her first performance with the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur in 1999 – just two of many acclaimed musical milestones – Grimaud made a wholly different kind of debut: in upper New York State she established the Wolf Conservation Center.

Her love for the endangered species was sparked by a chance encounter with a wolf in northern Florida which led to her determination to open an environmental education centre. “To be involved in direct conservation and being able to put animals back where they belong,” she says, “…there’s just nothing more exciting.”

But Grimaud’s engagement doesn’t end there: she is also a member of the organization Musicians for Human Rights, a worldwide network of musicians and people working in the field of music to promote a culture of human rights and social change.

For most people, establishing and running an environmental organization or having a flourishing career as a musician would be accomplishment enough. Yet, remarkably, Hélène Grimaud has also found time to pursue writing. Her first book, Variations Sauvages, was published in French in 2003 and subsequently translated into English, Japanese, Dutch and German. Her second book, Leçons particulières, which is part novel and part autobiography, followed in 2005.

Despite her divided dedication to these multiple passions, it is through Grimaud’s thoughtful and tenderly expressive music-making that she most deeply touches the emotions of audiences. In 2013, she performs in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Russia, the USA, Brazil, China and Japan. Amongst others, she will play with the Czech Philharmonic, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, the Philharmonia, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Russian National Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Brahms is featured prominently in Grimaud’s programming repertoire throughout 2013. In the autumn, Deutsche Grammophon will release her album of the two Brahms piano concertos: the first concerto with Andris Nelsons conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the second recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic. When she took the Brahms on tour to Southeast Asia this year, The Straits Times of Singapore said: “Her playing was distinguished by superb timing and consistency of touch, and seamless interplay between piano and orchestra.”

Grimaud is also an ardent and committed chamber musician who performs frequently at the most prestigious festivals and cultural events with a wide range of musical collaborators that has included Sol Gabetta, Thomas Quasthoff, Rolando Villazón, Jan Vogler, Truls Mørk, Clemens Hagen and the Capuçon brothers.

An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist since 2002, her most recent release was Duo, a collaboration with cellist Sol Gabetta, released in October 2012. Last autumn, the pair gave a series of concerts in Germany and France, performing the cello sonatas of Schumann, Brahms, Shostakovich and Debussy, which are featured on the disc. The album’s repertoire originated as an inspired recreation of a concert they gave at the 2011 Gstaad Festival, which the Berner Zeitung described at the time as “breathtaking” while BBC Music Magazine commented that “…in the grand first movement [of Brahms’ Cello Sonata No. 1] Hélène Grimaud produces a context of almost orchestral depth and spaciousness into which Gabetta projects her eloquently refined lines.”

Previous releases include her Mozart Piano Concertos No. 19 and No. 23, a disc released in 2011, which also featured a collaboration with singer Mojca Erdmann on a recording of Mozart’s <em.Ch’io mi scordi di te?. Grimaud’s 2010 release, the solo recital album Resonances, featured music by Mozart, Berg, Liszt and Bartók. Other DG recordings by Grimaud include Bach’s solo and concerto works in which she directed the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen from the piano bench, and a Beethoven disc with Staatskapelle Dresden and Vladimir Jurowski, Reflection and Credo (both of which feature a number of works linked thematically), a Chopin and Rachmaninov Sonatas disc, a Bartók disc with Grimaud playing the Third Piano Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra under Pierre Boulez and a DVD release of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Abbado.

Hélène Grimaud is undoubtedly a multi-faceted artist. Her deep dedication to her musical career, both in performances and recordings, is reflected and reciprocally amplified by the scope and depth of her environmental and literary pursuits.

Hélène Grimaud last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Frieman Family Piano Series on March 6, 2009.

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