The San Diego Symphony is celebrating the composer Leonard Bernstein in May with a tribute to what would have been his 100th birthday. We got the chance to talk with Quebec Symphony Orchestra Music Director Fabien Gabel, who will be the Symphony's guest conductor for the first two concerts in the series this week, to chat about Bernstein, the art of conducting, and music.

Born to an accomplished Parisian musical family, Gabel started studying trumpet at the age of 6, honing his skills at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, and later at the Musik Hochschule of Karlsruhe. He went on to play for 13 years in various Parisian orchestras under the direction of prominent conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Sir Colin Davis, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Simon Rattle and Bernard Haitink. Gabel took an interest in conducting “quite late, considering that [he] started music very early”. In 2002 he began to pursue his interest in conducting at the Aspen Summer Music Festival, where he studied with David Zinman. Gabel later appeared as a guest conductor at the Festival in 2009.