LSM Newswire

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


September 10, 2013 / Curtis News Release -  Building upon a rich tradition of distinguished conducting faculty and alumni, the Curtis Institute of Music launches a new conducting program this fall with Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin as its first mentor conductor.

Designed for emerging young conductors at a crucial time in their development, the program combines personalized attention from a renowned conductor with frequent podium time, both in performances and rehearsal with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Curtis Opera Theatre, Curtis 20/21 Ensemble, and others, in keeping with the school’s “learn by doing” philosophy.

“Transmission of knowledge, sharing experiences, inspiring younger musicians to find their own true personality—this is how we keep bringing wonderful music to life for so many centuries,” notes Mr. Nézet-Séguin. “I have become the musician and conductor I am today because of every teacher I have had, and it is with this in mind that I look forward to becoming the first mentor conductor at Curtis. It is an honor to join in the work of one of Philadelphia’s and the world’s most important educational institutions, providing guidance and inspiration to the musical leaders of tomorrow.”

As the first mentor conductor for the program, Mr. Nézet-Séguin provides musical and professional guidance, working one-on-one with the conducting fellow for the 2013–14 season.  Kensho Watanabe, the first Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow, hails from Greenwich, Conn., and earned a diploma in conducting from Curtis in 2013.

The Curtis conducting program combines individual attention from a top music director with numerous public performance opportunities. In the 2013-14 season, Kensho Watanabe will conduct the fall Curtis Opera Theatre production of The Emperor of Atlantis and leads the opening work on each of the three Curtis Symphony Orchestra concerts in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center.

In addition to frequent performances, the conducting fellow will lead sectional rehearsals, work with visiting conductors, and complete high-level training in musical studies, analysis, and conducting techniques. Auditions take place in the spring and conducting fellows are expected to enter the program at a high artistic level, prepared to lead Curtis ensembles in rehearsal and performance.  The program has been funded through the 2016–17 school year by longtime Curtis supporters Rita and Gustave Hauser. Application and audition information is available at

In addition to his role as mentor conductor, Mr. Nézet-Séguin will also lead the Curtis Symphony Orchestra at the Kimmel Center on January 26, and throughout the year will conduct readings with the orchestra and work with Mr. Watanabe in Curtis Lab Orchestra and mentoring sessions. The mentor conductor guides the conducting fellow throughout the year and provides a firsthand look at the operations of a major orchestra.

The connection between the Curtis conducting program and the Philadelphia Orchestra stretches back to its founding by the legendary Leopold Stokowski. Later faculty members included Fritz Reiner, Max Rudolf, and most recently Otto-Werner Mueller. A host of illustrious conductors have graduated from Curtis since its founding including Leonard Bernstein (’41); Alan Gilbert (’92), music director of the New York Philharmonic; and Robert Spano (’85), music director of both the Atlanta Symphony and Aspen Music Festival and School.

The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world, renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for a legacy of innovation in music-making.

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin triumphantly opened his inaugural season as the eighth artistic leader of The Philadelphia Orchestra in the fall of 2012. His highly collaborative style, deeply-rooted musical curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm, paired with a fresh approach to orchestral programming, have been heralded by critics and audiences alike. The New York Times has called Nézet-Séguin “phenomenal,” adding that under his baton, “the ensemble … has never sounded better.” He is embraced by the musicians of the Orchestra, audiences, and the community itself. His concerts of diverse repertoire attract sold-out houses, and he has established a regular forum for connecting with concert-goers through Post-Concert Conversations.

The Philadelphia Orchestra maintains a strong commitment to collaborations with cultural and community organizations on a regional and national level. Since Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore’s arrival in 2010 the Orchestra has reinvigorated or launched new partnerships with Opera Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Live Arts (Fringe Festival), Philadanco, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Ridge Theater Company, and stage director James Alexander, among others. For more information, visit

The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level. One of the world’s leading conservatories, Curtis provides its 171 students with full-tuition scholarships and personalized attention from a celebrated faculty. Its distinctive “learn by doing” approach has produced an impressive number of notable artists, from such legends as Samuel Barber to current stars Jonathan Biss, Juan Diego Flórez, Hilary Hahn, Jennifer Higdon, and Lang Lang. Curtis alumni hold principal chairs in every major American orchestra, and each season they are featured as guest soloists with the world’s leading orchestras, opera houses, and chamber music series

Curtis’s innovative programs encourage students to perform often and hone 21st-century musical skills. The school’s facilities offer superb spaces for music-making, as well as state-of-the-art technologies to enhance learning. In addition to more than 200 performances in and around Philadelphia each year, students perform internationally with Curtis On Tour. When they graduate, they become musical leaders, making a profound impact on music around the globe. To learn more, visit

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