All it takes for a competition to get onto the musical map is to pick the right winners. Cadaques, in Spain, has just hit the jackpot for the third time.
In 1994, the winner was Gianandrea Noseda, who is just ending a tremendous decade with the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester. In 2002, Vasily Petrenko came top. He has since turned the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic from a grumbling mob to a brilliant band. This week, the first prize went to Andrew Gourlay, Assistant Conductor at the Halle in Manchester.
Clearly the northweast of England keeps a weather eye on Cadaques for its own benefit, but there is no denying the achievements of Noseda and Petrenko and, from what I hear of Andrew Gourlay, he too is destined to go the distance.
The Cadaques prize is €6,000 and a chance to conduct all 28 orchestras in Spain over three seasons. The jury is headed by Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Neville Marriner, who provide sage counsel to contestants. If I were a young conductor, Cadaques would be high on my radar.
You can hear Gourlay conduct the Halle for the first time on Thursday 2 December 2010. For full details please visit: http://www.halle.co.uk