Some previous winners
- 32 years old the day of the Final
- Yan Pascal Tortelier, President of the Jury
Nodoka Okisawa is the winner of the renowned Concours international de jeunes chefs d'orchestre de Besançon 2019, where she was awarded the “Grand Prix” as well as the orchestra and audience prize. Already in 2018 she won the Tokyo International Music Competition for Conducting, one of the most important international conducting competitions.
At the beginning of the 2020/21 season, Nodoka Okisawa will be a scholarship holder of the Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker and assistant to Kirill Petrenko. In addition to assisting this orchestra’s Chief Conductor in concert and opera, the scope of her two-year scholarship also includes conducting her own concert projects together with students of the Karajan Academy.
Highlights of the current and next season include her debuts with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Osaka Symphony Orchestra and the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, Orquesta de Extremadura and Real Filharmonía de Galicia. Past engagements have taken her to orchestras such as the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt / Oder.
She has attended numerous master classes, amongst others with Neeme, and Paavo Järvi and Kurt Masur. In both 2019 and 2020 she was selected for the Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy in Tokyo. She gained further experience in the past as assistant conductor of the Ensemble Kanazawa and in opera productions in Japan and Europe.
Born in 1987 in Aomori, Japan, she learned piano, cello and oboe since early childhood. She studied conducting at the Tokyo University of the Arts with Ken Takaseki and Tadaaki Otaka and graduated with a master’s degree. In 2019 she obtained her second master’s degree at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin under Christian Ehwald and Hans-Dieter Baum. Nodoka Okisawa lives in Berlin.
Agent : Keynote Artist Management
Photo © Taira Nishimaki
- 23 years old the day of the Final
- Leonard Slatkin, President of the Jury
Winner of the Grand Prix at the 55th Besançon Young Conductors’ Competition 2017, Ben Glassberg studied conducting with Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy of Music, following the completion of his music degree at the University of Cambridge.
In summer 2017, Ben conducted a performance of La Clemenza di Tito at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, making him one of the youngest conductors to debut at the festival in its history. Invited regularly, Ben will return in summer 2018 to conduct performances of Madama Butterfly and in the autumn of ‘18 to conduct La Traviata: Behind the Curtain. In 2016, he was awarded the Glyndebourne Lefever Award, after assisting Antonello Manacorda on a new production of Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict.
In the 2017/18 season Ben has debut appearances with Kammerakademie Potsdam, Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse, Orchestre National de Lyon and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst others. Future seasons include his operatic debuts at La Monnaie and and a national tour of L’elisir d’amore with Glyndebourne Touring Opera alongside symphonic debuts with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra and Musikalische Akademie Mannheim.
Together with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, Ben has premiered the new work by Vikki Stone, Concerto for Comedian and Orchestra, which he conducted at Glastonbury, Latitude and the Edinburgh Festivals.
Agent : Keynote Artist Management
Photo © Sim Canetty Clarke
- 23 years the day of the Final
- Dennis Russell Davies, jury chairman
At only 23 years of age, Jonathon Heyward confirmed his status as one of the most outstanding talents of his generation when he was awarded the Grand Prix at the 54th International Competition for Young Conductors in Besançon : « Jonathon Heyward embraces music with all the enthusiasm and vigour of a 23-year-old. With sweeping but precise gestures, The Chairman Dances swung along in an irresistible way, bursting with color. » (Concertclassic.com)
Originally a cellist, Jonathon began his studies at The Boston Conservatory in the class of Andrew Altenbach. Between 2012 and 2014 he occupied the position of Assistant Conductor for the conservatory’s lyric department. During his time there, he worked on various productions including La Bohème, the Magic Flute and The Rape of Lucretia. In 2013 he became the youngest ever semi-finalist at the ‘Blue Danube’ International Opera Conducting Competition : « a fresh new talent, with exceptional musicianship ».
Jonathon currently lives in London where he studies under Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy of Music. He is now Associate Conductor of the Hampstead Garden Opera where he conducted Don Giovanni in November 2015. Next season Jonathon Heyward will be Guest Conductor at the Orchestre National de Bordeaux-Aquitaine, Sinfonieorchester Basel, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de l’Opéra de Rouen and Philharmonie Zuidnederland.
Agent : CLB Management
Photo © Jeremy Ayres Fischer
- 24 years the day of the Final
- Gerd Albrecht, jury chairman
Born in 1989, Yao-Yu Wu earned a degree with a specialisation in orchestral conducting from Taipei National University of the Arts where he studied under Sung-Jen Hsu. While studying, he regularly conducted pieces by students from the composition class as well as concertos for the University’s festival and projects he organised by himself. Yao-Yu Wu conducted Tslila, a piece by Israeli composer Amit Gilutz for the Asian League of Composers in 2011. In 2013 he interpreted the opera La Sonnambula (Bellini) and extracts from the opera Rigoletto (Verdi) with the music department at the Taipei National University of the Arts. He has taken part in many master-classes and received praise from Rodney Winther, Andreas Delfs, Lü Shao-Chia, Nicolas Pasquet and Dominique Rouits. In 2012, he was accepted onto the 53rd Weimar Master-class conducted by professor Nicolas Pasquet. Yao-Yu is currently in the third year of his masters degree at Taipei National University of the Arts.
Photo © Yves Petit
- 30 years the day of the Final
- Sir Andrew Davies, jury chairman
Graduating from the Tokyo National University of Music and Fine Arts in 2001, Yuki Kakiuchi completed his training in Europe, where he studied orchestral conducting. Trained by the very best (Seiji Ozawa, Leopold Hager, Jorma Panula, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Isaac Karabtchevsky and Kotaro Sato) he has conducted, among others, the Brasov Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Salzburg Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, the World Youth Orchestra, and returned to his first love in conducting the Osaka Symphony Orchestra.
In September 2011, the young and promising conductor, then aged 33, won the Grand Prix at the 52nd Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors in front of a capacity audience, receiving accolades from the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Kakiuchi during the competition.
‘It was absolutely magical to compete with the musicians of the Brussels Philharmonic, as well as with the soloists, all very talented. I thank them all for this’, acknowledged Yuki Kakiuchi during the award ceremony. The Jury, chaired by Sir Andrew Davis, Musical Director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, as well as press critics, were unanimous in praising his performance. ‘For the second time in a row, the winner of the competition is Japanese and I think that the 1959 winner, Seiji Ozawa, has played a part in this: he has been teaching year after year in his country, where the level of young conductors continues to rise’, commented Bernard Sertout, President of the Festival.
Yuki Kakiuchi made his debut with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo during the 2011/12 season. He has performed at the St. Petersburg Philharmonia’s prestigious venue with their Symphony Orchestra, and will tour with the Brussels Philharmonic in Belgium and in France.
Photo © Yves Petit
- 30 years the day of the Final
- Michel Plasson, jury chaiman
Darrell Ang was born in Singapore in 1977, where he studied violin, piano and bassoon, before moving into orchestral conducting. After winning prizes at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and Yale University, he studied interpretation under Sir Colin Davis, Lorin Maazel and J.E. Gardiner.
He won First Prize at the 50th International Young Conductors Competition in Besançon (Grand Prix and Public Prize) in 2007, and was also awarded the Orchestra Prize. He won the 2008 Arturo Toscanini Competition in Parma and was Principal Guest Conductor for the orchestra of the same name until 2010. In 2011, Darrell Ang was invited by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Colin Davis and Vladimir Jurowsky to succeed Gustavo Dudamel as Young Conductor in Residence at the Philharmonia Orchestra and London Philharmonic, a position supported by the ALLIANZ CULTURAL FOUNDATION.
Darrell Ang co-founded the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in 2001 and is frequently invited to the Opera where he has conducted La Traviata, The Marriage of Figaro and Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. He often returns to St. Petersburg to work with the White Nights Festival.
He has regularly conducted the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg and Orchestre Lamoureux as well as the orchestras of Brittany, Toulouse and Metz and the Orchestre national de Lyon. He routinely returns to the Besançon Festival. During the new production of the Magic Flute by Opéra Bordeaux in January 2010, Forum Opéra wrote: ‘Darrell Ang, a young conducting prodigy who wielded the baton for his first opera in France, was in tune with the production, and displayed neither pretension nor religiosity. His fresh and playful direction managed to reconcile us with a work that had fallen out of favour through excessive intellectualism.’ Darell Ang will return to the Opéra de Bordeaux this coming season to conduct the French composition JOURNAL DE NIJINSKY by Detlef Glanert.
Highly regarded in Europe, Darrell Ang made his debut with the London Philharmonia at the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in Paris in 2011 before returning in 2012 to conduct the Long-Thibaut competition’s laureates’ concert at the Opéra Comique. He will be Guest Conductor for a contemporary music production this coming season. His debuts at the Orchestra Verdi in Milan and the London Philharmonic Orchestra were followed by invitations to conduct further performances, a situation repeated by the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. The list of orchestras conducted by Ang is long: the Orchestra Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini, Orchestra Regionale dell’Emiglia Romagna, Orchestra della Toscana and Orchestra Verdi in Italy; while in Asia he has forged special ties with orchestras that regularly ask him to return, such as the National Taiwan Orchestra, the Taiwan Philharmonic, the Taipei Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. In Germany he was invited to guest conduct for the Jena and Heidelberg Philharmonic Orchestras last season, and he is regularly asked to return to the Münchener Rundfunkorchester, the Beethovenorchester Bonn and the Wiener Kammerorchester.
Darrell Ang’s passion for education and training young people saw him establish the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, which he has directed since 2008 and takes on worldwide tours, most recently in Europe in summer 2012 with a final concert at Berlin’s Konzerthaus.
Darrell Ang was awarded a special status at the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, which for the first time in its one hundred year history created the position of Young Associate Conductor from 2007-2013. Darrell Ang still serves as the Principal Guest Conductor at the orchestra in his home town. He has been the Musical Director at the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne since September 2012. He is eager to establish a musical programme with this orchestra, which is as comfortable with the major repertoire (Beethoven cycle) as it is with reaching disadvantaged audiences using smaller ensembles, during concerts in prisons or hospitals for example. He is passionate about discovering Breton music: aside from performing with his orchestra at various Celtic music festivals, in 2012 he devised a programme focusing on the Breton period of the Jazz composer: Dave Brubeck. The Cité de la Musique in Paris invited the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne to celebrate the year of Singaporean Culture in France in March 2015, conducted by Darrell Ang of course.
Photo © NC
- 18 years the day of the Final
- Lawrence Foster, jury chairman
French conductor Lionel Bringuier’s artistic maturity and interpretive depth have established him as one of the most engaging figures among the world’s leading orchestras. This led to his being named Chief Conductor and Musical Director of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2012 at the age of 26. As he enters his second season with the Tonhalle, Bringuier’s artistic vision and energy – both on and off the podium – are steering the orchestra into a new era. Bringuier has appeared as a Guest Conductor with the New York Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Philharmonia Orchestra, and Israel Philharmonic, among others.
Bringuier made his professional debut at the age of 14, conducting a live concert on French national television, but it was his triumph in Besançon aged only 19 that truly launched his career.
In 2007, after accepting an assistant conductorship with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris and an associate conductorship with the Orchestre de Bretagne, he was chosen from nearly 150 applicants to serve under Salonen as Assistant Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, becoming – at 21 years of age – the youngest to do so in the orchestra’s history, and the youngest person to ever conduct at Disney Hall. His extraordinary rapport with the orchestra, critical acclaim, and success with audiences, led to his reappointment under Gustavo Dudamel and subsequent promotion to Resident Conductor in 2011. Bringuier embarked on a concurrent three-season tenure as Musical Director of Spain’s Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León in 2009. He has also served as a Guest Conductor at the San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He has retained close ties with his home town of Nice, France, and regularly conducts the Orchestre philarmonique de Monte-Carlo.
A staunch advocate of contemporary composition, Bringuier has conducted noteworthy premieres of works by Pedro Amaral, Louis Andriessen, Karol Beffa, John Corigliano, Marc-André Dalbavie, Philippe Fénelon, Philippe Hersant, Giya Kancheli, Magnus Lindberg, Bruno Mantovani, Gérard Pesson, Kaija Saariaho, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Rebecca Saunders, Steven Stucky, Éric Tanguy, and Erkki-Sven Tüür.
Photo © Paulo Dutto
- 28 years the day of the Final
- Serge Baudo, jury chairman
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
- 28 years the day of the Final
- Pierre Dervaux, jury chairman
Recently appointed Musical Director and Chief Conductor at the KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, Yoel Levi is known throughout the world for his work at the head of many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, his repertoire of symphonic, operatic and lyric works and his extensive discography.
Having won first prize at the International Competition for Young Conductors in Besançon in 1978, he spent six years as assistant to Lorin Maazel before becoming Musical Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra from 1988 to 2000. It was during this period that the British magazine Gramophone applauded his impact on the artistic standard of the orchestra: ‘Yoel Levi has built a reputation for himself and for his orchestra that is increasingly the envy of the big five American counterparts in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Boston and Chicago’. This sentiment was seconded with the nomination of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as ‘Best orchestra of the Year’ for 1991/1992 at the First Annual International Classical Music Awards.
Yoel Levi has also held positions with several European orchestras, where he has consistently raised performances to new and critically acclaimed levels. Having been Principal Conductor of the Brussels Orchestre de la Radio Flamande (2001 to 2007) he was appointed Musical Director of the Orchestre National d’Ile de France in 2005. He held this post until 2012, giving regular concerts in Paris and the Ile de France area. He also increasingly took the orchestra on tour to locations such as Spain, Eastern Europe and London, where the media praised the orchestra as being one of the most inspiring and dynamic orchestras in Europe.
Yoel Levi’s engagements as Guest Conductor have taken him all over the world to conduct leading orchestras in London, Paris, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Rome, Frankfurt, Munich, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Israel, Korea and Japan. In North America, he has conducted the New York Philharmonic and the orchestras of Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Washington, Minnesota, Toronto and Montreal, among others.
He is also the first Israeli to serve as Principal Guest Conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra with which he has toured the United States and Mexico as well as giving a special concert celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the State of Israel. Other recent tours include an extensive tour of New Zealand with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and highly acclaimed concerts in Spain with the Orchestre de Paris. Yoel Levi is regularly invited to conduct at special events such as the Nobel Prize Ceremony at the head of the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.
Ever since his 1997 debut in the orchestra pit at the Teatro Communale in Florence conducting La Fanciulla del West, Yoel Levi has devoted a considerable part of his activities to the opera repertoire, conducting Carmen at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Makropulos Case by Janacek in Prague and Puccini’s Edgar with the Orchestre National de France. At the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, he conducted Mozart’s The Magic Flute and The abduction of the Seraglio, and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle. With the Brussels Philharmonic, Yoel Levi conducted Puccini’s Tosca, La Traviata and Madame Butterfly and recent performances have included Tosca during the Puccini festival in Torre de Lago, Italy. In France he has conducted Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites, Nabucco with the Nicolas de Grigny Choir at the Stade de France in front of an audience of 60,000 people, recorded and broadcast live throughout Europe. Others performances have included Aida, Elixir of Love, Hansel and Gretel and La Bohème, among others.
Yoel Levi was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree by Oglethorpe University in Atlanta in 1997 and also gave the commencement address. In June 2001 he was named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government.
Agent : KMI
Photo © Axel Saxe
- 24 years the day of the Final
- Eugène Bigot, jury chairman
Seiji Ozawa’s career has been meteoric. Born to Japanese parents in China on 1st September 1935, he studied Western music at Tokyo’s Toho School of Music. His first tutor, Hideo Saito, taught him the basic techniques that enabled him to travel to Europe and the United States, and thus to the very roots of the traditions and repertoire of the music he had been studying. In 1959 he was awarded First Prize at the Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors. This was the start of his dazzling career. Charles Münch invited him to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Festival. Seiji Ozawa then studied in Berlin under Herbert von Karajan before further honing his skills as a pupil of Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein considered him a genius and invited Ozawa to join him and the New York Philharmonic on a tour of Japan.
During his years in the USA, Seiji Ozawa served as musical director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1965 to 1969 before being named director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra from 1970 to 1976. He performed the latter role while acting as director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where he made his mark until his departure in 2001.
Ozawa then returned to Europe, serving as musical director of the Vienna Opera between 2002 and 2010, but was careful not to neglect his ties with Japan. Thus, in 1984, he founded the Saito Kinen Orchestra in honour of his teacher Hideo Saito. Each summer, in the town of Matsumoto, the orchestra brings together Japanese musicians serving in the most prestigious Western orchestras to perform at the Saito Kinen Festival. Maestro Ozawa also directs the Mito Chamber Orchestra twice a year, an ensemble created in 1990 and containing some thirty highly skilled musicians. Ozawa has always taken an interest in the musical development of young artists. He is behind several academies – the Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy Okushiga and the Ongaku-Juku Academy in Japan as well as the International Music Academy – Switzerland (IMAS) in Geneva, known since 2011 as the Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland. True to his public, Seiji Ozawa shares his immense talent during legendary performances that make him one of the century’s greatest conductors.
Photo © Shintaro Shiratori