Maestro rising: Philly assistant wins top Paris prize

Maestro rising: Philly assistant wins top Paris prize


norman lebrecht

June 29, 2014

Lio Kuokman, recently appointed assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, has been declared winner of the Evgeny Svetlanov Competition.

The first prize was not awarded. Kuokman was second. A British conductor, Samuel Burstin, came third.

The winner gets 15,000 Euros and a second chance to conduct the radio philharmonic orchestra of France.

Kuokman, 32, is in the process of moving from Hong Kong to the US.


lio kuokman


  • John Chin-Hao Chen says:

    Just a quick comment: Lio is the young conductor’s family name.

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      Yes, but he calls himself Lio (he is “big” Lio and his pianist younger brother (Lio Kuokwai) is “l’il” Lio to their classmates a few years back).

      Congrats to both of them and their recent awards.

  • Youh-Yun says:

    This competition is a scandal.

  • Youh-Yun says:

    Kalle Kuusava was the assistant of Mikko Franck & Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Samuel Burstin was principal viola in Philharmonia orchestra, therefore he knows Ashkenazy. Saraste brought Mihhail Gerts because of WDR Koln and Kuokman seems to be he outsider. Bravo to another competition mafia, you probably eliminated true talents in 1st and 2nd round – CLOSED to the public.

  • Youh-Yun says:

    Therefore bravo to the only candidate without ANY connection to jury! You actually deserve to win,Lio. Musiciansshould boycott these competitions.

  • Oracle says:

    Kuusava not only assisted Mr. Franck but also Mr. Saraste at WDR Cologne, so apparently plenty of connections between jury members and finalists. On the other hand, it’s not surprising that chaps who manage to gain the confidence of such great maestros can also be successful in competitions. There are some qualitative reasons, too, why certain people are chosen to be assistants of grand maestri.

    • Somewhere says:

      Oracle You’re probably right i guess you know how it works. They give them opportunity to conduct so then they get invited. most of these young people will have music-director positions one day. Some probably have. In my opinion Kuusava’s way to conduct was so childish,like giving solfege lesson, unexperienced. What about women conductors? No one was good enough to pass? Of course we can’t judge we couldn’t see previous rounds.

      • Bow says:

        You guys sound so bitter. You’re in the league of mediocre conductors with no jobs, unlike the finalists in Svetlanov. All of them are very promising conductors, and I can’t think of another competition with more distinguished jury.