Major conducting competition is all-male, again

Major conducting competition is all-male, again


norman lebrecht

December 17, 2017

It’s the finals of the Cadaques competition in Barcelona.

The quarter-finalists are:
Dominic Grier (UK)


Kaapo Ijas (Finland)

Felix Mildenberger (Germany)

Wilson Ng (China)

Jaume-Blai Santonja Espinós (Spain)

Sergey Simakov (Russia)

Nuno Coelho (Portugal)


The jury: Gianandrea Noseda (chair; 1994 winner); Annette Mangold (artistic planner, Berlin Philharmonic), Nicholas Kenyon (MD, Barbican Centre), Lutz Köhler, Jaime Martín (conductors), Jun-ichi Nihei (Japan Arts Corporation), and the Cadaqués Orchestra.


UPDATE: The semi-finalists are Felix Midenberger, Sergey Simakov and Nuno Coelho.


  • apalled says:

    This post is ridiculous!
    I was there to watch… in the 1st round they selected some wrong people indeed BUT this 7 were absolutely good conductors and the best 7 if the second round.
    Let’s start to look for quality…
    Good luck guys: you are doing great!

  • Rodrigo says:

    The organization of this competition is really bad. They have not been posting any updates or lists of competitors on their website or social media pages.

    It only emphasizes the fact that this is an inbred, insular competition. Sure they livestream, but they don’t have the courtesy to inform the public ahead of time of which candidates are conducting. So how are we to know how fair it is?

    Where is the list of candidates? They are selling tickets to the finals already but don’t even inform the public of who is competing. Kudos to Mr. Lebrecht for finding this info – Cadaques hasn’t deemed it important enough to share with anyone else.

    Boo for Cadaques and their poor public relations, lack of communication with their public, for keeping a secret of candidate names and for guaranteeing another insular, old-boy competition which provides absolutely no transparency to the viewing public.

    What a joke.

  • Sue says:

    Ah, the Gender Police now!! I can see where all this is going!

    • John Borstlap says:

      I’m the only woman here on the staff and that makes me very happy, you can get away with things that are truly difficult for males. Every time when the Gender Police comes for their annual check, we hire a dozen of ladies from the bridge club in the village, spoil them with tea and cakes, and the civil servant crew leaves the estate perfectly satisfied.


  • RW2013 says:

    Köhler is a teacher of Mildenberger.

    • Not the student of Ehwald says:

      That’s ok man, in Bucharest is even more lol, YuAn Chang 2016 Winner is the student of Ehwald, third prize also, and come 2017, the first prize Jupping is the student of Ehwald again!!!!! Ridiculous!!!

  • Gaddi says:

    Not sure I understand what’s your point exactly.
    So by you, if a competition has no women in the finals it’s not a good one?
    Did you even watch all the competitors, by livestream or in person? This is quite a ridiculous title.
    You are welcome to write about any suspicious corruption, but to say “There are no women in the finals, it’s a bad competition” is just a wrong way to see things.

    • John Borstlap says:

      My fly on the wall informed me that at least two of the candidates were reverted transgender lesbians. That’s why nobody noticed.

  • Musician says:

    I think this discussion about gender in any profession, specially music and in particular conducting, has to see an end soon. There is good and bad women conductors, there is good and bad men conductors – period. Anybody who watched the livestream (and understand a little bit about music or conducting) will agree, that the three finalist are all good young conductors, some of them with great conducting experience, good mentors, knowledge and musicality. No matter who wins, it is a good competition this time. Just search for Mildenberger or Simakov in internet a bit. Good luck to all of them!

  • Nik says:

    If you have evidence that female contestants of equal or higher calibre were pushed out, then please share it.
    If you don’t, then this is a non-story.

  • Simone says:

    I was one of the participants in the competition. Those who did well passed to the following rounds, independently on gender, teachers, religion, or color of the eyes. It has been fair.