A Portuguese wins conductors contest

A Portuguese wins conductors contest


norman lebrecht

December 21, 2017

Nuno Coelho Silva was declared winner last night of the men-only Cadaques conducting competition.

The jury was chaired by past winner Gianandrea Noseda. The runner-up was Felix Mildenberger, a German.

Coelho, 28, came third in last summer’s Salzburg Nestle Competition.




  • Musician says:

    First, it was not “men-only” competition. If is a good conductor, who cares if it’s man or woman.

    Second, his first family name is not Silva, but Coehlo. You don’t call people with two last names just by the second, NL. If you don’t want to use both last names, then you should pick the father’s last name, i. e.: Andrés Orozco Estrada = Orozco (better=Orozco Estrada, of course). José Luis Gomez = Gomez (Luis is second Surname). Carlos Miguel Prieto= Prieto (Miguel is second Surname, like Dennis Russell Davies = Davies).

    Oh, whatever.

    • Rgiarola says:

      His name is Nuno Coelho Silva. He call himself Nuno Coelho, just look his website as nunocoelhoconductor .com

      Coelho is a very common portuguese family name. Means “Rabbit”.

      You should not talk about things you don’t know.

      • Aprusso says:

        That’s absolutely right!
        Nuno COELHO da Silva (not Coehlo) and it is a normal Portuguese name
        Remember Ruy Gomes de Silva in Verdi’s Ernani? It is the same kind of name.

  • RW2013 says:

    At least “men-only” competitions have been reintroduced…

  • apalled says:

    Anyway… Bravo Nuno!
    Finally a good musicians and hood conductor which was awarded for his merit!

  • Simone says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, it was not a “men-only” competition. There were 11 women. 9 of them made it to the first round (59 contestants in all). 4 of them made it to the second round (20 contestants in all). None of them made it to the third round (7 contestants in all).

    One could discuss about the fact that only 11 women out of 101 contestants were admitted to the competition in the first place, which is barely more than 10%. This would make for an interesting and reasonable discussion. On the contrary, getting rid of the matter by defining the Cadaqués competition as “men-only” is nothing but a superficial way to deal with the topic, incidentally discrediting a competition and a jury which did a good job.

  • Arturo says:

    Cadaques management did a poor job of making the competition transparent. Their website was not kept up to date, nor were their social media pages. If there were updates during the progress of the competition, they were not easy to find or clear to the public, in any language.

    This competition, as with the organization of the Cadaques orchestra in general, has a reputation in Spain for being a closed, inbred, old boys’ outfit run by a predominantly Catalan “mafia”. The orchestra are invited freelance players, friends or friends of friends of this mostly Catalan oligarchy.

    So they invite their friends in to play, give them a vote (orchestra votes in this competition), don’t make the ongoing results of the competition clear to the public online, and then claim it’s a fair contest?

    And they certainly have made some big mistakes in the past. Take a look at ALL the Cadaques winners from the past – not just the ones they publicize. They include conductors who’ve been named music directors of orchestras in Spain, mostly on the merits of having won this competition, and discovered to be completely inappropriate and in a couple of cases, incompetent, by the orchestras they’re serving once they’re on the job.

    Until Cadaques opens up – holds public auditions for their orchestra, provides complete transparency during all phases of the competition, informs their viewing public CLEARLY of how the contest is proceeding – it can’t be taken as a credible competition.

    And a word of caution to any orchestra who hires a conductor on the basis of their success in this competition. Do your homework. A Cadaques winner is not necessarily the next Noseda. Just “winning” Cadaques means absolutely nothing. Ask any of the Spanish orchestras who get stuck playing with them, for better or for worse.

    • Simone says:

      Arturo, I really don’t understand such bitterness toward the Cadaqués Competition (at least this edition). I’m not talking about the orchestra itself, whose organization I don’t know much about.
      The ongoing results of the competition were announced daily on the orchestra blog in Spanish and English, and every round could be seen live via streaming on the orchestra website. How can this possibly be considered lack of transparency?

      As to what you call “mistakes” in the past, winning a competition doesn’t guarantee the winner to be a great artist or even simply ready for a professional career. Isn’t this why Bartók said that competitions are for horses? You rightly observe that the vast majority of past Cadaqués winners cannot be even remotely compared to Noseda (or V. Petrenko). Yet this is true for any competition. Take a look at Besançon, Solti, Donatella Flick… That’s why your “word of caution” to orchestras hiring competition winners should apply to any competition, not just this one.