9-15 July 2017
Patron – Yuri Simonov
Final ResultsWe are delighted to announce the final results of the world’s first international conducting competition with screened judging. This took place in Radom, Poland, from 9-15 July with 39 competitors from 21 countries.
Devised by Conductors’ Academy Directors Jonathan Brett and Maciej Żółtowski, the competition aimed not only to create an unbiased assessment process but also to set challenges which would mean reaching the final would require evident skills. More than this, a key objective was educational: to encourage all participants to develop their technique by showing that, given essentially the same opportunity, conductors with the right technical skills can produce objectively better results. The organisers believe that this is of particular importance in the modern world, where technical performance standards are at unprecedented levels yet the resources available to artistic organisations everywhere are under increasing pressure.
For the first, second rounds and semi-final, all judging was undertaken from behind a screen on the basis of sound alone. In order that the jury could not know who was conducting at any time, the competition was organised so that candidates appeared in random order and were not allowed to speak on stage. Only after the results of each round were decided did the jury find out the identity of those who had passed.
The screened rounds were arranged to present a series of increasingly difficult challenges – covering a varied range of repertoire and including an accompaniment, all of which had to be overcome through working with gesture alone, thus proving real conducting skill. Those who passed these hurdles finally won the right to speak to the orchestra in the final round, at which finally the jury was allowed to see as well as to hear both the rehearsal and the final performance.
Jonathan Brett, Chairman of the Jury said:
“After four long days judging only sound, when I finally saw the finalists conducting it made me acutely aware of the relative pollution of the purity of judgement if the eyes are allowed to be involved: when I see someone approach a problem in a way I cannot imagine can be effective, it is simply impossible for my ears – and consequent judgement – not to be affected. To me this explains a lot of the issues of bias which tend to surround more traditionally organised music competitions of every kind. My conclusion is that, whilst the details might be tweaked, in principle the concept is right: this is a really good way to manage a competition.”
Comments from participants
“I think the removal of bias is crucial and it was wonderful to see this achieved!”
“I think that conducting competitions should pay much more attention to the sound that conductors provoke and less to the superficial impressions.”
“This competition gave me the experience of ‘live’ conducting — seeing what happens when you only use your hands — rather than the tamer conducting achieved in a rehearsal. It was quite eye opening.”
“Participating in this competition shed a light on strengths and weaknesses in my own conducting and has given me plenty to think about in terms of next steps.”