If you get a moment with pianist and conductor Philippe Entremont, you might want to talk about his Carnegie Hall debut at age 18, his many recordings with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and his landmark recording of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with Leonard Bernstein.
You could also talk about his celebrated stints as music director of several orchestras, including the New Orleans and Denver symphonies and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.
But Entremont doesn't want to talk about that stuff.
"I think that is so self-defeating," Entremont, 77, says. "'Oh, my God, it was so great 25 years ago.' I don't like to live in the past."
As he speaks from his home in Paris, France, Entremont is getting ready for his immediate future: a U.S. tour with the Munich Symphony Orchestra and the choral group Gloriae Dei Cantores that starts Wednesday night at the Eastern Kentucky University Center for the Arts in Richmond. It will be the first official concert by an orchestra at the brand-new center, which has thus far featured pop acts such as B.B. King and Wynonna Judd.
"I have heard it is a beautiful hall," Entremont says. "It is good because in spite of the economy, there are a lot of new halls being built, especially on the West Coast.
"We know very well today how to get excellent acoustics," he said. "There are a lot of good new halls in Japan, and the new field for classical music, of course, is going to be China."
Entremont knows that from firsthand experience: One of his most recent gigs has been as principal guest conductor of the Shanghai Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra.
But on this current trip, he is bringing an orchestra from Germany, the heart of European classical music, playing a masterpiece by one of the masters, W.A. Mozart's Requiem. It will be paired with Arnold Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night).
"This is one of the best orchestras in Germany," Entremont says. "We have done a lot of tours together, and this is an orchestra I get along exceptionally well with and it's been a happy marriage."
Entremont describes the Requiem as "a big crowd-pleaser. This is the last work of Mozart. ... This is a work of exceptional maturity, and it is his last, best work. This is an extremely difficult piece and you need a world-class chorus to do it. Fortunately, we have one."
Gloriae Dei Cantores hails from Cape Cod, Mass., and has performed in 24 countries, has been featured on the soundtrack of the movie Lorenzo's Oil and taken the stage with an esteemed list of conductors including John Williams, Keith Lockhart and now Entremont, who, as he said, is not interested in rehashing his past or resting on his laurels.
"That is the kiss of death," Entremont says. "Look at the number of conductors that are in good shape. Look at Lorin Maazel," he adds, referring to the maestro who was in Kentucky a few years ago conducting the New York Philharmonic in Danville.
"There are very good and active conductors, some who are over 80," Entremont says.
In three years or so, it seems very likely he'll be one of them.