How turning 40 helped Yannick Nézet-Séguin conduct long-silent pieces

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 Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin celebrates his 40th birthday today, wrapping up a yearlong series of long-unheard works performed as part of the orchestra's 40/40 Project. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin celebrates his 40th birthday today, wrapping up a yearlong series of long-unheard works performed as part of the orchestra's 40/40 Project. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

This week, for the first time in its history, the Philadelphia Orchestra is performing Vaughan Williams’ Symphony Number 4.

What normally might be a remarkable event is just one of many firsts this year for the orchestra, which set out to perform 40 works in its 2014-2015 season that hadn’t been heard in subscription concerts in 40 years.

It’s called the 40/40 Project because it also honors another milestone — music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s 40th birthday today.

“I love that age because, for me, it’s a question of being still full of energy, full of passion, full of willingness to achieve something in life, full of drive,” Nézet-Séguin said. “But having a few years of experience to know where to let go, where to put the energy, where to really pace [myself].”

Now in his third season with the orchestra, Nézet-Séguin feels he has built a strong enough bond with the audience that it’s responded positively to the experimental nature of the 40/40 Project.

“I understand that trust has to be earned,” he said. “The positive response to this project is reassuring me of where to go in the future years, and that our bond and our trust is really strong.”

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