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The 58th edition of the Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors will be held in 2023!
It is open to all candidates under the age of 35.

The preliminary rounds will take place in the spring of 2023, before the final rounds in September during the 76th edition of the Music Festival.

Steps of the 58th Competition

Registration – January 2023

From Wednesday 18 January 2023, noon
to Tuesday 31 January 2023, noon

Paris time. Registration subject to availability in each city.

Registration closed, all cities are full.

Competition Rules 2023

Preliminary rounds – April 14 to May 3, 2023

Each registered candidate is called upon to conduct symphonic works played by two pianists at two pianos, in front of two members of the jury.
At the end of the preliminaries, 20 candidates will be selected for the final rounds with orchestra.


  • David Berdery
  • Paul Montag

Members of the jury in charge of the preliminary rounds

  • Jacques Mercier, conductor
  • Yulia Kopylova, associate concertmaster


  • Serguei Rachmaninoff
    Symphonic Dances, op.45
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
    Symphony No.2 in D major, op.36

© Yves Petit

Germany, Berlin

April 14, 15, 16, 2023
The Hanns Eisler School of Music
(max. 67 candidates)

France, Paris

April 18, 19 & 20, 2023
École Normale de musique Alfred Cortot
(max. 72 candidates)

Japan, Tokyo

April 23 & 24, 2023
Sumida Triphony Hall
(max. 40 candidates)

France, Besançon

April 27 & 28, 2023
Espace Grammont (Centre diocésain)
(max. 57 candidates)

Canada, Montreal

May 2 & 3, 2023
Conservatoire de musique
(max. 39 candidates)

Final rounds – September 17 to 23, 2023

The final rounds will take place from September 17 to 23, 2023 in Besançon, during the 76th Besançon International Music Festival.

  • All rounds with orchestra are public (except the dress rehearsal for the Final).
  • ll works are compulsory.
  • Candidates are called upon either to conduct all or part of the musical pieces, or to have the artists work under their musical direction, depending on their desire for interpretation or the jury’s request.
  • All candidates participate in the first two rounds.

The choice of works as well as the participating artists are currently being worked out.

© Yves Petit

Welcome and information meeting

Sunday, September 17 - late afternoon
(presence of the candidates is compulsory)

1st round symphony

Monday, September 18
(2:30 or 8 pm)

2nd round symphony

Tuesday, September 19
(2:30 or 8 pm)

Semi-final opera

Wednesday, September 20 - 2:30 pm
(max 8 candidates)

Semi-final concerto

Wednesday, September 20 - 8 pm
(max 8 candidates)

Dress rehearsal for the Final

Friday, September 22
(max 3 candidates)

Final symphony & world premiere

Saturday, September 23 - 4:00 pm
(max 3 candidates)

Jury 2023

Yutaka Sado

Jury Chairman, conductor

Born in Kyoto, Yutaka Sado is currently Music Director of the Tonkünstler Orchestra in Austria, Artistic Director of the Hyogo Performing Arts Center and its resident orchestra in Nishinomiya, Japan, and Principal Conductor of the Siena Wind Orchestra in Tokyo.
Sado continues his tenure as the Music Advisor for the New Japan Philharmonic, before taking up the position of Music Director from the 2023/2024 season. The Tokyo-based orchestra was founded in 1972 by Seiji Ozawa, who serves its Honorary Conductor.
Studied under Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa, Sado is the recipient of the Grand Prix of the 39th Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors in 1989, and the Grand Prix of the Leonard Bernstein Jerusalem International Music Competition in 1995. Sado’s collaboration with Leonard Bernstein continued and was appointed as Conductor in Residence at the Pacific Music Festival inaugurated by the late Bernstein in 1990 in Sapporo, Japan.
Sado’s career outside Japan started in France, where he was Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Lamoureux in Paris between 1993 and 2010. He has guested with many of world’s leading ensembles including Berlin Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Orchestre de la Suisse-Romande, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, RAI Torino, and National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC.
Yutaka Sado’s many-faceted musical achievements have been documented in more than 50 audio and visual recordings. Tonkünstler Orchestra Label has released over 15 DCs, in-house studio productions and live recordings from the Vienna Musikverein, including “Ein Heldenleben” and “Rosenkavalier-Suite” by Richard Strauss, Anton Bruckner’s Fourth, Eighth and Ninth Symphonies, Joseph Haydn’s “The Creation” and orchestral works by Leonard Bernstein.

© Peter Rigaud / Shotview Artists

Hans Graf


Known for his wide range of repertoire and creative programming, Hans Graf is one of today’s most highly respected musicians. Born near Linz in 1949, he studied conducting with Franco Ferrara in Siena, Sergiu Celibidache in Bologna and Arvid Jansons in St. Petersburg. He is Professor Emeritus for Orchestral Conducting at the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg. He has been appointed Principal Conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra from the 2020/2021 season and Music Director from the 2022/2023 season.
Hans Graf was Music Director of the Houston Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Basque National Orchestra and the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg. He has appeared regularly with most major orchestras in North America, including the orchestras of Boston, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, St Louis, Minnesota, Atlanta.
In Europe, Graf has conducted the Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus, DSO Berlin, Royal Concertgebouw, Rotterdam, the Dresden, Oslo, Stockholm, London Philharmonic, London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic and Hallé, St Petersburg Philharmonic and Russian National, the Bavarian, Danish and Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestras, Budapest Festival Orchestra and many others. He is also a regular guest with the orchestras of Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Seoul, Hong Kong.
A frequent conductor at the Salzburg Festival since 1983, Graf has also participated in the prestigious European festivals of Maggio Musicale, Bregenz, Aix-en-Provence, and in the US the Tanglewood, Blossom, Aspen, Grant Park and the Bravo! Vail Music Festivals.
Graf has led many performances at the Vienna State Opera and the opera houses of Munich, Berlin, Paris and Rome, among others. Recent productions include Wagner’s Parsifal in Zurich and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov in Strasbourg. In 2014 he was awarded the Österreichischer Musiktheaterpreis for Richard Strauss’s Die Feuersnot at the Vienna Volksoper, where he returned in 2021 to lead Rosenkavalier.
Hans Graf's extensive discography is found on the EMI, Orfeo, CBC, Erato, Capriccio and JVC labels and includes all the symphonies of Mozart and Schubert, the complete orchestral works of Henri Dutilleux (recorded under the composer’s supervision), and the world-premiere recording of Zemlinsky’s Es war einmal. Graf’s semi-staged production of Berg’s Wozzeck with the Houston Symphony won the GRAMMY and ECHO Klassik awards for best opera recording.
For his services to music, Hans Graf was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur by the French government and the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold from the Republic of Austria.

© DR

Juliette Kang

Violin concertmaster

Appointed first associate concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2005, Canadian violinist Juliette Kang enjoys an active and varied career. Previously assistant concertmaster of the Boston Symphony and a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Juliette Kang’s solo engagements have included the San Francisco Symphony, l’Orchestre National de France, the Baltimore Symphony, the Boston Pops, the Omaha Symphony, the Syracuse Symphony, and every major orchestra in Canada. Internationally she has performed with the Czech Philharmonic, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Singapore Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the KBS Symphony in Seoul. She has given recitals in Philadelphia, Paris, Tokyo, and Boston. In 1994 she won the gold medal of the 1994 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis and was presented at New York's Carnegie Hall in a recital that was recorded live and released on CD. She has also recorded the Schumann and Wieniawski violin concertos with the Vancouver Symphony for CBC Records.
In 2012 Juliette Kang was again a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall for the visit of her hometown orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony, and that season she made her Philadelphia Orchestra concerto debut with guest conductor Gianandrea Noseda. She is a regular soloist with the Fabulous Philadelphians, appearing in concertos by Barber, Bruch, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and more.
Juliette Kang has been involved with chamber music since studying at the Curtis Institute of Music. Festivals she has participated in include Bravo! Vail, Bridgehampton (Long Island, NY), Kingston (RI), Marlboro, Moab (UT), Skaneateles (NY), and Spoleto USA. In New York she has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; at the Mostly Mozart Festival with her husband, cellist Thomas Kraines; and at the Bard Music Festival.
After receiving a Bachelor of Music degree at age 15 from Curtis as a student of Jascha Brodsky, Juliette Kang earned a Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Dorothy Delay and Robert Mann. She was a winner of the 1989 Young Concert Artists Auditions, and she subsequently received first prize at the Menuhin Violin Competition of Paris in 1992.

© DR

Yulia Kopylova

Associate concertmaster

Also jury member for the preliminaries
Born in Novosibirsk (Russia), Yulia Kopylova began her musical education in her hometown at the Novosibirsk Special Music School with Prof. Alexey Gvozdev. At the age of 19, she moved to Germany, where she completed her Bachelor studies in Hannover with Prof. Krzysztof Wegrzyn and her master’s degree at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin with Prof. Ulf Wallin. During this time Yulia Kopylova attended numerous master classes with names like, Zakhar Bron, Oleg Krysa, Itzaak Rashkovsky, Kolja Blacher, Shlomo Mintz and Natalia Gutman.
From 2013 to 2015 Yulia Kopylova was appointed principal Concertmaster in the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra where she collaborated with conductors such as, Herbert Blomstedt, Christoph Eschenbach, Philippe Jordan, Jonathan Nott and performed in halls like, Vienna Musikverein, the Royal Albert Hall London (BBC proms), the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Salzburg Festival. In 2015 she was awarded a scholarship to integrate the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Academy in Munich and have played there for several years in the first violin section after. During this time she was also engaged as principal Concertmaster in Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias and Orchestra del Teatro Massimo in Palermo. Since 2019 Yulia holds a second Concertmaster position in Sinfonieorchester Basel and plays as a guest concertmaster in orchestras like, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Camerata Salzburg and Orchestra della Svizzera italiana. Yulia plays a modern French violin by Patrick Robin.

© Pia Clodi

Alexandros Markeas


Born in 1965 in Athens, Alexandros Markeas studied piano and music writing at the National Conservatory of Greece, then at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris (CNSMDP), where he has taught improvisation since 2003.
His work is marked by his desire to decode and modify the mechanisms of musical perception. He is often inspired by pre-existing music to reinterpret and deconstruct their aesthetic references by creating forms that freely alternate between references and pure sound abstraction. Traditional Mediterranean music, the renaissance repertoire, rock and jazz are an essential source of inspiration for him.
He is also inspired by different fields of artistic expression, such as architecture, theater and visual arts (installations, events, video, web) to find alternatives to the traditional concert and to create particular situations of musical listening. His works are marked by a theatrical mind and by the use of multimedia techniques.
Alexandros Markeas specializes in improvised music and gives numerous concerts as a soloist or in a group. At the same time, he devoted himself to composition. He attended the writing, analysis and composition classes at the CNSMDP with Guy Reibel, Michael Levinas and Marc-André Dalbavie.
For 30 years, his works have been performed in France and abroad by various ensembles such as the Ensemble InterContemporain, the Ensemble Modern, Alter ego, Proxima Centauri, Court-Circuit, l'Itinéraire, TM+, Ars Nova, Musicatreize, Sequenza 93, the Habanera quartet, the Arditti quartet, the Diotima quartet, the Percussions de Strasbourg, the Orchestre National de France and the Philharmonique de Radio France, the Orchestre National de Lorraine, the Orchestre National de Lille.
Alexandros Markeas has been commissioned by the French government, Radio France, and the Royaumont Foundation, and has benefited from numerous residencies: Quartz de Brest (2008), Arsenal - Metz en Scènes and Orchestre National de Lorraine (2014 > 2016), Les Détours de Babel festival in Grenoble (2017), Printemps des arts de Monaco (2019)...
As a pianist, he has been developing for several years the Piano-Cameleon project, which is declined in different improvised or premeditated sequences, based on the idea of the continuous change of the piano's sonority thanks to the use of the preparation of the strings or the electronics in real time.

© Yves Petit

Elena Schwarz


Swiss-Australian conductor, Elena Schwarz is rapidly gaining a reputation for her musical vision, versatility and insightful interpretations. With regular invitations from orchestras such as the WDR Sinfonieorchester and BBC Philharmonic, her re-invitations in the 2022/23 season also include the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and South Netherlands Philharmonic.
Highlights of the 2022/23 season include debuts with the Philharmonia Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony, Bremen Philharmoniker, Royal Philharmonique de Liège, Orchestre National de Lille, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz and the San Diego Symphony and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras.
Elena Schwarz has also guest conducted orchestras including the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Gulbenkian Orchestra and the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música.
Widely admired for her advocacy of new music, she has conducted world premiere performances by Peter Eötvös and George Aperghis and works regularly with specialist contemporary ensembles such as Ensemble Modern, MusikFabrik, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Intercontemporain, and the Luzern Festival Contemporary Orchestra conducting works by George Benjamin, Thomas Adès, Arnulf Herrmann, Olga Neuwirth, Lisa Streich and Francesco Filidei amongst others.
Elena Schwarz’s operatic work includes productions at Norwegian Opera (Hansel & Gretel), Opéra de Lyon (Peer Gynt), Festival d’Aix-en-Provence (The Sleeping Thousand by Adam Maor) and future productions include Kat’a Kabanova (Opéra de Lyon) and Rusalka (Opéra de Nice).
Elena Schwarz was awarded 1st Prize at the Princess Astrid Competition (Trondheim 2014), 2nd Prize at the Jorma Panula Competition (Vaasa 2015) and was a former Dudamel Fellow (2018-19). She studied conducting at the Geneva Conservatoire and Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana whilst further studies brought her to Peter Eötvös and Matthias Pintscher, and masterclasses with Bernard Haitink and Neeme Järvi. She was assistant to Mikko Franck at the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Marko Letonja at the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Asher Fisch at the West Australian Symphony Orchestra where she subsequently appointed Associate Conductor (2019-21).

© Priska Ketterer

Jean-François Verdier


Conductor, soloist, composer, teacher, Jean-François Verdier is presented as one of the most interesting personalities in the musical world.
Super-soloist of the Paris Opera, considered as one of the best European clarinettists, he is a laureate of international competitions in several disciplines in Tokyo, Vienna, Antwerp, Colmar, and Lugano. He has played under the direction of Bernstein, Ozawa, Muti, Gergiev, Salonen, Boulez, Jordan, Dohnanyi, Barenboim, Dudamel, Nelsons... He has been invited by the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
He won the Bruno Walter Prize at the Lugano International Conducting Competition in 2001, and it was with the advice of Armin Jordan and Kent Nagano that he began his career as a conductor, which was quickly acclaimed by the critics.
Resident conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon (2008-10), he has been artistic director of the Orchestre Victor Hugo since 2010, an orchestra with which he has recorded several critically acclaimed CDs (two Chocs Classica, Choc Jazz, Diamant d'Opéra Magazine...) with Karine Deshayes, Sandrine Piau, Isabelle Druet, Paul Meyer, François Leleux, Baptiste Trotignon, David Guerrier...
He is in demand by the great international stages: Opéra national de Paris (for which he has conducted more than 70 performances), Munich BR, Vienna, Madrid, Montreal, Lausanne, Luxembourg, Bern, Biel, Brussels, Mexico City, Salerno, Tokyo, Nagoya, Bolshoi of Moscow...
He is also a guest of the main French national orchestras and operas: Capitole de Toulouse, Lyon, Montpellier, Metz, Bordeaux, Ile-de-France, Nantes, Ensemble orchestral de Paris... He collaborates with Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Ludovic Tézier, Sandrine Piau, Piotr Beczala, Isabelle Faust, Sergei Nakariakov, François Leleux... and is a member of the jury of international competitions alongside Leonard Slatkin, Jorma Panula, Marin Alsop, or Dennis Russel-Davies. He has been teaching conducting at the ESM de Bourgogne Franche-Comté since 2019.
He composes musical tales for children: a sequel to Peter and the Wolf: The Duck is still alive! (Bernard Friot, Milan), Anna, Léo et le gros ours de l'armoire (Bernard Friot, Actes sud) both performed at the Philharmonie de Paris and Coups de Cœur de l'Académie Charles Cros ; Nuage Rouge (Vincent Cuvellier) performed at the Folle Journée de Nantes, Le Carnaval (gastronomique) des animaux (Bernard Friot, Milan), the children's opera Orphée (Dorian Astor) created by the Capitole de Toulouse in 2019, Svalbard en 2021 (Isabelle Gély). His works have been performed by the Bavarian Radio in Munich, the Dessau Opera, the Capitole de Toulouse, the Rouen Opera, the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metz National Orchestra, the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, the Opéra Bastille, the Philharmonie de Paris...
Jean-François Verdier is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

© Yves Petit

Débora Waldman


Débora Waldman conducts numerous orchestras in France and abroad.
In September 2020, she will take up her position as Music Director of the Orchestre National Avignon-Provence. On this occasion, she became the first woman to head a permanent French national orchestra. In September 2022, she was appointed Associate Conductor at the Dijon Opera.
Recently, she has been heard with the Orchestre National de France, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Orchestre National de Lyon, the Hamburger Symfoniker, the Staatskapelle Halle, the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Colombie, the Orchestre National de Lille and the Orchestre Lamoureux at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.
In the opera field, she recently conducted Idomeneo at the Opera d'Avignon and Don Pasquale at the Opera de Dijon, where she returns this season for Stiffelio, then in 2024 in Tosca.
In June 2019, she will give the world premiere of the symphony "Grande Guerre" written in 1917 by the French composer Charlotte Sohy (1887-1955), whose forgotten score she has found. This discovery was the occasion for the production of a documentary on its creation, but also for a book "La symphonie oubliée" (published by Robert Laffont), crossed portraits of the composer and the conductor.
Her first CD with the Orchestre National Avignon-Provence, "Charlotte Sohy, Composer of the Belle Époque", was recently released on the new label La Boîte à Pépites / Recording Women Composers.

© Lyohdo Kaneko

Jacques Mercier


Jury member for the preliminaries only
Jacques Mercier has studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, where he was unanimously awarded the First Prize of conducting. In the same year, he was awarded the First Prize at the International Competition for Young Conductors in Besançon and was prize-winner of the Fondation de la Vocation.
He has quickly begun an international career. He conducts famous formations : the Orchestre de Paris, the Orchestre national de Radio France, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Stockholm, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Moscow, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande… Holder of the title of "Souveräner Dirigent" in Berlin, Jacques Mercier also performs at the Salzburg Festival, in Bucharest, Helsinki and Madrid, where he is acclaimed by critics as “one of the best French and European conductors of his generation”.
From 1982 to 2002, Jacques Mercier has been Artistic Director and Resident Conductor of the Orchestre National d’Île-de-France. "Displaying communicative energy and enthusiasm, Jacques Mercier managed to make his formation rise at the first places among French orchestras.” (O. Bellamy in L’Evénement du Jeudi) ; “Jacques Mercier has irrefutably proved his great talent, made of precision and mastery, but also with fire and panache.” (P. Petit in Le Figaro).
For seven years, Jacques Mercier has served as Resident Conductor of the Turku Philharmonic in Finland. This experience has been determining in his way of conducting works by North European composers such as Sibelius whose repertoire he made known in France. But his talent, made of precision, rigour, finesse and extreme sensibility, is also perfect when conducting 19th and 20th French repertoires, including new music for which he is standing up with passion – some creations, including some by Iannis Xenakis, Luis de Pablo, Philippe Manoury et Wolfgang Rihm belong to his repertoire.
Jacques Mercier has proved his curiosity and pertinence when choosing his recording. Bacchus and Ariane and Melodies by Albert Roussel have been awarded the Prize of the Académie Charles Cros, Djamileh by Bizet the Prize of the Académie du disque lyrique. His recording, Le Martyre de Saint-Sébastien by Claude Debussy for RCA, has got the "Choc" from the Monde de la Musique. Among lyrical works, Jacques Mercier conducts above all works from the French repertoire such as Carmen, Faust, Béatrice and Bénédict, Dialogues des Carmélites, Pelléas et Mélisande, Lakmé…
Chosen as the "2002 musical Personality" by the professional Union of dramatic and musical critics, Jacques Mercier was Resident Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orchestre National de Lorraine in Metz until 2017. His first CD with the orchestra, L’An Mil, by Gabriel Pierné was awarded the Diapason d’Or 2007.

© DR