February 8, 2018
Minnesota Orchestra guest conductor Labadie flirts with death in Faure's Requiem

"It's a very tempting definition of death. It's the one I would wish for my best friend," conductor Bernard Labadie says with a laugh.

Labadie is referring to the ethereal Requiem by Gabriel Fauré, one of several works he'll be conducting this weekend with the Minnesota Orchestra. (The Minnesota Chorale will appear in Fauré's Requiem and Fauré's Pavane in the second half of the program.) Friday's night concert will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. from Orchestra Hall with Brian Newhouse as host.

Minnesota is lucky to have Labadie, and Labadie is lucky to be here. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with stage IV lymphoma and hemophagocytosis. His taxing treatment included chemotherapy, radiation therapy and even a stem cell transplant. (Fortunately, his sister was a perfect donor match.) For a month, he was in an induced coma.

He has been unapologetically candid about the experience, his openness touching colleagues and patrons alike.

"I received a message from one of our subscribers in Québec City with my orchestra, and he was just going through the exact same illness with the exact same procedure, so he told me that it was a great help to him. So that's the reason why I did it. Normally, I'm rather private about these things. But I thought that, in this case, it might be helpful to some."

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