Perfectionism and Humility: Kent Nagano Turns 70 |  NDR.de - Culture - Music

Status: 11/22/2021 11:59 PM.

Kent Nagano has served as General Director of Music at the Hamburg State Opera and President of the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra since the 2015/16 season. He celebrated his 70th birthday on November 22.

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by Frederick Westerhouse

Sitting in a good mood in his opera house office, Kent Nagano lets his gaze wander over the rooftops of Hamburg. Does he have a wish on his 70th birthday? “I think I already have the best birthday present because I’m doing two Electra rehearsals on my birthday. I’d love to, and now it’s already arrived.” Two exercises on his own day that suits him. Because it’s at home in the music.

A California citizen of Japanese descent is a global citizen. He has served as president in Lyon, Manchester, Los Angeles, Berlin, Munich and others. His home is music. In his book “10 Lessons From My Life – What Really Matters” he wrote that he thinks “of every note in the score, about every aspect, always from different perspectives.” Sounds like a perfectionist.

Team spirit is especially important to Kent Nagano

Dirigent Kent Nagano © picture-alliance / dpa Photo: Vladimir Vyatkin

My voice: Kent Nagano driving Kanata Mahler “Das klagende Lied” (62 min)

The conductor says, “You can be really obsessed, and that’s not good for art. On the other hand, every artist I know and I respect – we’re all perfect in trying to get a perfect vision. So perfect that we already know it’s impossible. So yeah, at least That’s what my wife says, I’m a perfectionist.”

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Kent Nagano is admired for his clear and well-thought-out reading of the scores, and is also appreciated for his calm and balanced style. And in his role as general manager of music in Hamburg, the idea of ​​the team takes on special significance: “We all try to be honest in this house really candid, and we try to get the priorities right. That priority to quality is very clear.”

Humility is the hardest lesson

Kent Nagano shaped Hamburg’s musical life for six years, spanning extensively from Hector Berlioz’s “Les Trois” to commissioned tracks by Toshio Hosokawa and Jörg Weidmann. Kent Nagano is full of energy and vision, full of ideas for new projects. He retained his curiosity and still considers himself an educated person.

One of the most difficult lessons is: “Humility. Without humility you will not make progress as an artist. If not, we are pessimists, that is, we know everything, we know everything. And when the point comes, we are no longer artists.”

Additional information

Kent Nagano © Sergio Ferranes

Renowned conductor Kent Nagano will present his group “10 Lessons from My Life” on December 9 in Hamburg. more

Portrait of Captain Kent Nagano.  © dpa Photo: Daniel Reinhardt

Courageous and inquisitive, Kent Nagano leaves all of his senses on something new. Frank Zappa commissioned him to interrupt the orchestra, and Olivier Messian asked him to supervise the preparations for the opera “Saint François Dasise” in Paris. more

Kent Nagano in profile © picture alliance / dpa |  Axel Heimkin

Kent Nagano runs at Musikfest Hamburg and talks about the importance of music and the appeal of new compositions. more

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