French hopes are dashed at Besancon

French hopes are dashed at Besancon


norman lebrecht

September 22, 2019

Nodoka Okisawa, 32, from Japan was declared winner last night of the Besancon Conducting Competition.

The French finalist Victor Jacob, 28, received a Special Mention.



  • FrauGeigerin says:

    Not surprised. It is the current fashion: women should get it all in conducting (regardless of their talent and experience). White European make conductors should not win anything.

    • Peter says:

      Or, you know, she was the best conductor in the competition. Radical suggestion, I know.

      You obviously know nothing about the contestants, so your evaluation that the European man must have been more deserving than the Asian woman speaks for itself.

    • Bruce says:

      If a man wins anything, it’s because he’s good. If a woman wins anything, it’s because she’s a woman.

      Very important to remember this always.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      Have you considered the possibility that the jury thought that her conducting was better than those of her competitors? Or is she an obvious token bc she is a women, no further proof needed?

    • Pedant says:

      Just a small point: if you’re going to be a petulant iconoclast, maybe don’t misspell the most crucial word of your argument? 🙂

    • Leiftur says:

      It was pretty obvious who will be winning this time. Many years without a female winner, and with the current trend of pushing forward women conductor, she had the highest chance of winning. Of course she isn’t as bad as a certain prize winner last year…Well it is a good time to be a female conductor I must say.

    • Suzanne says:

      I was at the competition – both Victor Jacob and Hioran Li found their way through the Strauss, but Nodoka Okisawa was able to give both the Tanguy and the Strauss form, had musically interesting ideas, and exhibited complete physical ease. Her calm intensity and ability to communicate with the orchestra clearly and without resorting to oversized gestures made for a compelling performance. She most deservedly won 1st prize, audience favourite, and orchestra favourite.

      • FrauGeigerin says:

        Very easy: 20 candidates to the final round, 3 of them women. They auditioned 270 candidates, of which 21 were women. This conductor is obviously talented, I know that, but statistically it wasn’t very likely that a woman won the competition.

        Women make just a small fraction of all conducting students, but lately most major assistantships, many of the competitions, many ofthe signings with agencies, and new positions as principal or principal guest conductor are going to women. Why? Are women in general better conductors than men or positive discrimination Iis being applied?
        I find this positive action terrible, because no historical injustice can be solved with another injustice. Real equality between men and women never comes with artificial measures, but with education measures and making sure that the laws are applied. Lasting equality will only come organically. Encourage more women to study conducting, and then things will change.

  • panteon of conductors says:

    I wonder why Mr.Lebrecht isn’t happy? woman in finals, woman – a winner. Maybe she is not as British as Mirga, but at least she is woman.
    p.s. another dead competition, but it’s not Nodoka’s fault

  • Caruso says:

    You mean: “Japanese winner at Besancon.”

  • Guest13 says:

    I really wanted to watch the competition, but there wasn’t any broadcast online. Lack of media presence is one of the factors why I think Besançon is not among the most important competitions any more. Nevertheless, congratulations to Nodoka Okisawa, I’m sure she did great. And thank you Mr. Lebrecht for telling us the winner – that’s not even written on their website…

  • Caranome says:

    is it conceivable one day to have conducting competitions “blind”, as in orchestral auditions? Just have a screen behind the conductor. That eliminates any biases, and the performances alone reign. Or the job involves more than that, such as motion, looks? And now we have introduced race, gender and whatnot into it.