3 women finalists in Mahler conducting competition

3 women finalists in Mahler conducting competition


norman lebrecht

March 17, 2016

Three women have made it to the last 14 of the Bamberg Mahler competition, an event that has yielded high-profile winners since Gustavo Dudamel took the inaugural prize in 2004. Here are the 2016 finalists, published today:


Mr Rodolfo Barráez Venezuela

Mr Gabriel Bebeselea Romania

Mr Paolo Bortolameolli Chile

Ms Tong Chen China

tong chen

Ms Anna Duczmal-Mróz Poland

Mr Keitaro Harada Japan

Mr Georg Köhler Germany

Mr Sergey Neller Russia

Ms Gemma New New Zealand

gemma new

Mr Eunseok Seo South Korea

Mr Valentin Uryupin Russia

Mr Vlad Vizireanu Romania

Mr Kahchun Wong Singapore

Mr David Yi USA



  • Pirkko says:

    Why do the three women make it into the headline? What’s the point in trying to maintain gender barriers?

    • John says:

      Lebrecht seems to enjoy focusing on women conductors, for some reason. A musican should focus on quality and talent, not sex.

      • Sardis says:

        Unfortunately subliminal sexism rules in the classical music world. The reason for a dearth of high level female conductors is not talent but prejudice. Norman is performing a very important service highlighting even this little progress.

        • John says:

          Do you have any evidence that good quality female conductors are being ignored in favour of lower quality male conductors? If anything, we have seen in recent years unfair precedence given to women, not men.

        • Andrew R. Barnard says:

          If it’s true that women conductors of talent are everywhere, just where are they, and who? Seems to me that there simply aren’t many qualified women making this career choice.

  • FreddyNYC says:

    What exactly is the track record on winners of these “conducting competitions”? Can’t help but think of the career of Okko Kamu after winning the “Karajan Competition” nearly 50 years ago…..

    • Steven Holloway says:

      I’m a bit puzzled by that reference to Kamu. At present, he’s chief conductor of the Lahti SO, having succeeded Saraste. Over 100 discs to his credit, including a very well-received complete Sibelius symphony cycle on Bis. In earlier years, he held very solid positions, earned plaudits for many recordings and, to his eternal credit, did so without zooming around in a Lamborghini with arm aloft to show a Rolex-bangled wrist. Not a meteor, but it all sounds good to me, and meteors always burn out. (None of this is attributable to the competition he won, mind you. I view all music competitions with ill-concealed contempt.)

      • Bruce says:

        Oddly, I was unable to find a list of winners of the Karajan competition, although several famous conductors (Jansons, Gergiev) and reasonably-famous (Kamu, Antoni Wit, Dmitri Kitayenko) list first prizes in their bios.

  • Andrew R. Barnard says:


    You do realize that women are humans who lead interesting lives? You know they’re not just creatures to be adored for their gender?

  • Ross says:

    Life was better before every school had conducting majors and there were conducting competitions.

  • Bruce says:

    Past winners: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_Mahler_Conducting_Competition

    I’ve never heard of any of them besides Dudamel. Are the others “high-profile” as NL says? Maybe I’m just out of the loop.

    • Rgiarola says:

      I was about to ask the very same question!

      2004, Gustavo Dudamel
      2007, No first prize awarded, 2nd prize Shi-Yeon Sung
      2010, Ainars Rubikis
      2013, Lahav Shani

      I can see only one Hype-profile, and no High ones.

      We are out of the loop, I can see now.

  • Bruce says:

    When successful female conductors become commonplace, this kind of thing will stop being news. Until then, it’s still news.

  • TI says:

    Go Gemma ! (proud Kiwi here).

  • Sue says:

    Go the girls!!!