Frenchman beats fancied Brit to Salzburg baton title

Frenchman beats fancied Brit to Salzburg baton title


norman lebrecht

March 02, 2014

The Brits have been beating above their weight at the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award. In 2012 Jamie Phillips was runner-up; he is now assistant conductor of the Halle. In 2013 it was Ben Gernon, now assistant conductor at the Los ngeles Philharmonic. This year we had high hopes for Leo McFall, who studied at the Sibelius Academy and is conducting at Meiningen in Germany.

The judges decided otherwise. The winner, announced tonight, is Maxine Pascal, 28 (centre), a student of François-Xavier Roth in Paris. Press release follows.

maxine pascal

Salzburg Festival Press Release, March 2, 2014


Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award 2014

The 2014 Winner is Maxime Pascal 

At the 2014 Award Concert Weekend held at the Felsenreitschule, the 28-year-old Maxime Pascal from France convinced the jury chaired by Ingo Metzmacher by conducting a concert of Camerata Salzburg with soloist Ramón Ortega Quero.

“The concerts of the three finalists Maxime Pascal, Leo McFall and Victor Aviat all had a very high level. After extensive deliberation, the jury has decided unanimously in favour of young Maxime Pascal. His great musicality and his special rapport with the orchestra convinced us,” the Chairman of the Jury, Ingo Metzmacher, said when the 2014 winner was announced.


“I am very impressed to receive such a prize in such an important place, and I love the Salzburg audience“, this year’s winner, Maxime Pascal, said.

The competition for the “Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award” was held for the fifth time this year. There were 82 applicants. The prize carries a cash value of € 15,000 and is awarded annually to a young conductor up to the age of 35. In addition, the winner conducts the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra in a Festival concert at the Felsenreitschule on August 17, 2014 at 11:00 am.


The career development of the winners in previous years – Ben Gernon (2013), Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (2012), Ainārs Rubikis (2011) and David Afkham (2010) – demonstrates the international relevance of this award.

Nestlé’s President of the Board, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, said: “In its fifth year, the ‘Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award’ proves once again how meaningful it is to offer young conductors the chance to present their abilities within the framework of such a renowned festival as the Salzburg Festival. We are delighted to support the careers of these young talents through this initiative, unique throughout the world, and to introduce them to a broader public through the Award.”


“Discovering and supporting young talents is among the most fascinating and most rewarding tasks of any cultural institution. The entire Award Concert Weekend was characterised by the extremely high musicality of the three candidates. We are very happy that Maxime Pascal will conduct the Prize Winner’s Concert with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra as part of the Salzburg Festival on August 17,”said Artistic Director Alexander Pereira.


“After five years, the ‚Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award’ is among the most important awards worldwide, enabling young conductors to launch an international career. It is great to see the winners so far make their way in the world. I am convinced that Maxime Pascal too will use the Festival as a springboard,” Helga Rabl-Stadler, President of the Salzburg Festival, added.



Biography: Maxime Pascal

Aged 28, the Frenchman Maxime Pascal studied conducting with François-Xavier Roth at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse inParis. In 2011 he won the Simone and Cino del Duca Prize of the Academie des Beaux-Arts. Since 2008 he has been music director of the orchestra Le Balcon and the Impromptu Orchestra, appearing at major festivals such as the IRCAM Festival, the Berlioz Festival and the Paris Summer Festival. He has gathered international experience in Belgium, for example, where he conducted the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, and at the Australian BIFEM Festival in Melbourne. In 2012 he participated in a master class with George Benjamin as part of the International Ensemble Modern Academy; in 2013 this was followed by the Stockhausen Summer Course, where he performed a Stockhausen concert with his Le Balcon ensemble. In January 2014 Maxime Pascal was responsible for a production of Benjamin Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia with the Orchestre National de Lille at the L’Athénée Théâtre Louis-Jouvet in Paris.



  • Michael Wilkinson says:

    I only ask because puzzled by the report. How does a 28 year old person win a prize awarded to a conductor under 25?

  • Ignacio says:

    I have no reason to question the judges good judgement and congratulate Maxine on winning the award. Iam certainly an admirer of his mentor François-Xavier Roth. However, there is something I do not understand, and it may be a matter of translation. The article states that the award is given to a conductor up to age 25. Elsewhere the article lists Maxine’s age as being 28. So, what gives?

  • Ignacio says:

    I hit the wrong key: the name is Maxime, the gender is male. Sorry.

  • Julien says:

    The press release is wrong. This is a prize for conductors under 35. That’s the reason why.

  • Seb-Rasmus says:

    Bravo to all three.

    I am sad that Leo McFall didn’t win, he is a true musician and a real talent with a solid technique.

    We will have the joy to experience his musicianship all around UK in autumn 2014 where he conducts The Turn of the Screw on the Glyndebourne Tour.