Tokyo competition keeps prizes for Japanese teachers’ pets

The winner of the Tokyo International Conducting Competition, Nodoka Okisawa, lists two jury members – Tadaaki Otaka and KenTakaseki – as her teachers.

Second and third prizes also went to Japanese contestants. The jury was predominantly Japanese.

So why bother to call it International?

Among the non-placed contestants were the highly-rated Earl Lee, associate conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony, and Conner Covington, associate of the Utah Symphony.

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  • nahokomusic says:

    The Jury of the Tokyo International Competition for Conducting was not entirely Japanese.
    Only 3 of 8 were Japanese in fact.
    Here is the full list of the Jury panel:

    Judges
    Werner HINK (Austria)
    Junichi HIROKAMI (Japan)
    Alexander LAZAREV (Russia)
    Dong-Suk KANG (Korea)
    Tadaaki OTAKA (Japan)
    Peter PASTREICH (USA)
    Hubert SOUDANT (Netherlands)
    Ken TAKASEKI (Japan)

    Also I would like to point out that Nodoka Okisawa was the first female conductor to win the competition (Japanese or otherwise) in its 50+ years history.

    • Prida helene says:

      There are other issues. First of all Mr Hubert Soudan was in Tokyo for ten years and you forgot the chairman of the Jury, so it’s 4 members on a panel of eight people, 50% it’s a lot. Second of all the Jury in 2015 was with 6 exact same members than 2018 including two europeans guy but it’s kind of strange.

      Last but not least, there is an other jury made with two person from the main Jury, those person are Tadaaki OTAKA (Japan)and Ken TAKASEKI (Japan) and they are choosing with document and footage who can be at the first round and who cannot be.

      That’s why I totally agree with Mr. Lebrecht!
      why call it international and make young conductors coming from fare away, spending a lot of money, felling bad and probably sometimes lose they’re confidence for nothing. In the first round they eliminated ex third prize Solti competition and fourth prize Svetlanov… well it definitely doesn’t sound like a fair competition to me.

      Jury 2018 (8)

      Yuzo TOYAMA (Japan)
      Chairman of the jury

      Werner HINK (Austria)

      Junichi HIROKAMI (Japan)

      Dong-Suk KANG (Korea)

      Alexander LAZAREV (Russia)

      Tadaaki OTAKA (Japan)

      Hubert SOUDANT (Netherlands)
      Conductor Laureate, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra

      Ken TAKASEKI (Japan)

      Jury 2015 (7)

      Yuzo TOYAMA (Japan)
      Chairman of the jury

      Mike GEORGE(England)

      Werner HINK (Austria)

      Junichi HIROKAMI (Japan)

      Tadaaki OTAKA (Japan)

      Hubert SOUDANT(Netherlands)
      Conductor Laureate, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra

      Ken TAKASEKI (Japan)

  • Bill says:

    Usual reason for calling something international is that you will have participants from multiple nations.

    Competitions generally post the jury composition early enough that someone deciding whether to enter can look at the jury and decide if there is some reason to think it will be particular favorable or disfavorable to their chances. If you think the jury will be biased against you, then don’t waste your time and money. But to blame the jury makeup after competing is just sour grapes.

    • SVM says:

      But competitions do not generally post the names of competitors who have studied with jury-members before the entry deadline, do they? And if the crux of a complaint about bias is evidenced by the jury having made an award to such a competitor, how exactly is one supposed to be able to complain in advance?

    • John says:

      Having all the prizes given to Japanese contestants is just more than bias… that’s just pure and clear corruption.
      When you go to a country’s competition you can assume maybe one contestant will get a free pass to the final, but that is actually mostly not the case.
      Never have I saw a conducting competition giving ALL the prizes to the citizens of the same country. And it’s hard to believe that’s just a coincidence.

  • Women Conductors Rule! says:

    This is a sign that women are truly on the rise in conducting and surpassing men.

  • Ken says:

    When I saw the list of finalists, I had the same feeling. Observing the performances at the venue, however, I think the ranking was perry fair. It was obvious that Okisawa, the winner, was far beyond the others, even with the first few bars of her “Don Juan”.

    You should not forget that there were many more applicants from Japan than from other countries. Especially there were not many applicants from musically “developed countries” of the West. A competition in the Far East may not be very attractive for first class talents from Europe, but it surely is for those from Japan. In other words, the size and average levels of the parent populations were c
    totally different.

    Yes, the Japanese candidates had advantages. The video uploaded in YouTube shows that their common language enabled them to communicate with the orchestra much better with subtle nuance. But, so what? It is universally acknowledged truth that Japanese are poor English speakers and that in every competition, the locals enjoy such language advantages.

  • Helene Prida says:

    for nahokomusic :

    There are other issues. First of all Mr Hubert Soudan was in Tokyo for ten years and you forgot the chairman of the Jury, so it’s 4 members on a panel of eight people, 50% it’s a lot. Second of all the Jury in 2015 was with 6 exact same members than 2018 including two europeans guy but it’s kind of strange.

    Last but not least, there is an other jury made with two person from the main Jury, those person are Tadaaki OTAKA (Japan)and Ken TAKASEKI (Japan) and they are choosing with document and footage who can be at the first round and who cannot be.

    That’s why I totally agree with Mr. Lebrecht!
    why call it international and make young conductors coming from fare away, spending a lot of money, felling bad and probably sometimes lose they’re confidence for nothing. In the first round they eliminated ex third prize Solti competition and fourth prize Svetlanov… well it definitely doesn’t sound like a fair competition to me.

    Jury 2018 (8)

    Yuzo TOYAMA (Japan)
    Chairman of the jury

    Werner HINK (Austria)

    Junichi HIROKAMI (Japan)

    Dong-Suk KANG (Korea)

    Alexander LAZAREV (Russia)

    Tadaaki OTAKA (Japan)

    Hubert SOUDANT (Netherlands)
    Conductor Laureate, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra

    Ken TAKASEKI (Japan)

    Jury 2015 (7)

    Yuzo TOYAMA (Japan)
    Chairman of the jury

    Mike GEORGE(England)

    Werner HINK (Austria)

    Junichi HIROKAMI (Japan)

    Tadaaki OTAKA (Japan)

    Hubert SOUDANT(Netherlands)
    Conductor Laureate, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra

    Ken TAKASEKI (Japan)

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