Luca Anttell, a junior at Philadelphia High School of Creative and Performing Arts, plays percussion and saxophone for the school orchestra. He’s also a Mummer, just like his dad, playing in the Fralinger String Band.
As such, the Eagles’ fight song is well within his repertoire.
“We play it a lot for people at weddings, bar mitzvahs. They ask us to play it,” Anttell said. “This is the first time I’ve ever played it here with our orchestra.”
In the run-up to this weekend’s Super Bowl, Anttell and about 100 of his classmates came together on Friday as a full orchestra and chorus to perform “Fly Eagles Fly” in CAPA’s Grand Hall, under the baton of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Yannick Zezet-Seguin.
“I want this to be the best fight song ever recorded,” Nezet-Seguin told the students while wearing the jersey of Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. “Everybody does it. We do it better.”
During a week when Philadelphia is awash with Eagles green as they prepare to play the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Nezet-Seguin is also celebrating something else: The charismatic celebrity conductor from Montreal has officially extended his contract with the Philadelphia Orchestra until 2030.
The contract will make Nezet-Seguin music director for 18 years, just shy of Leopold Stokowski’s formative tenure of 23 years. Eugene Ormandy was the Philadelphia Orchestra’s longest-standing music director, for 44 years.
To mark his renewed commitment to Philadelphia, Nezet-Seguin spent Friday criss-crossing the city doing sundry pop-up appearances, including a Rocky impression running up steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, meeting healthcare workers at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, accepting a city proclamation from Mayor Jim Kenney at the Kimmel Center, and performing with Philadelphia’s All-City youth orchestra at halftime of the 76ers game.
At CAPA, Nezet-Seguin offered advice to the aspiring musicians, telling them to take music seriously, but that music should not be serious.
“Our job is to throw our emotions to the audience,” he said. “If we don’t enjoy what we do, there’s no chance they will.”
He also took a moment to thank the school’s choir and orchestra directors, Lauren Thomas-Moyett and Nanette Foley.
“One of the reasons I love this city — I’m going to stay again for eight years — is because there’s something about music and music education that’s so passionate and really determined,” he said. “It’s unlike anywhere else in the world. You are lucky to have these people, really.”
In addition to being the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Nezet-Seguin is also music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He primarily resides in Montreal with his husband and two cats.
Saturdays just got more interesting.