Just one woman selected in Mahler conducting competition

Just one woman selected in Mahler conducting competition


norman lebrecht

June 29, 2020

The competition began this morning and the names have just gone up on the website.

Finnegan Downie Dear (UK)
Killian Farrel (Ireland)
Orr Guy (Israel)
Andreas Hansen (Sweden)
Thomas Jung (Germany)
Piero Lombardi Iglesias (Spain)
Harry Ogg (UK)
Mikhail Shektman (Russia)
Christian Vazquez (Venezuela)
Katharina Wincor (Austria)



  • RW2013 says:

    So many?!
    2:55 – 3:00 says it all.

    • Beethoven says:

      What does she say? ” I don’t know anything about (…)” What word am I missing?

    • Allen says:

      That’s so funny, she says “I don’t know anything about string playing” 😀

      • Novagerio says:

        “I don’t know anything about string playing” – Well, good luck dear! Open your eyes, and you’ll realize that 85% of an orchestra is formed by strings (!)
        – You know nothing about strings, you surely know nothing about an orchestra !! That’s to demonstrate what nonsense conducting conpetitions are! 😛

    • FrauGeigerin says:

      Indeed. That is the problem of so many conductors pushed into careers now: they don’t know what they need to know, they have not enough music experience, they have not lived enough, they don’t know yet what the want (musically)… still, they think they stand in front of 80 professional musicians and tell them what to do.

      And what does it matter that there is only one woman? Should there be a quota? I am against competitions, but if the best applicants are men, so be it… no need for quotas, no need for representation. The best, andonly the best regardless of sex, race etc.

      • Pauker says:

        I agree 100% about these young conductors who barely know anything. I watched part of the Ivan Fisher master classes also ( I watched for him, of course.LOL) I saw Wincor conduct. I thought she was absolutely clueless. No idea about instruments, what the difficulties are, no idea of what was going on. Plus zero technique… Just like conducting to a CD. The four I saw were all like that, more or less…… NO IDEA how to rehearse,what to do, what not to do, fix a problem. I am a 76 year old retired percussionists/timpanist. I have a dear 27 year old friend who conducts several local community orchestras in which I play. He is BRILLIANT, Knows knows knows,, knows history, composers lives, knows what may go wrong, and how to fix it, knows instruments(he’s a ‘cellist) radar ears– We discussed at length how I would play the long F# timpani rolls in TCHAIK #6- 1st mvt…. This woman, and the rest of them, wouldn’t have a clue… OK I’m dome. :>)))))))

        • Bluebass says:

          All this guys go to top schools (Royal Academy of Music, Curtis, HfM Franz Liszt in Weimar, Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, Sibelius Academy etc.) to study conducting, go to a couple of masterclasses, get active in the social media, and at 26 they think they are ready to be a maestro (not a conductor, a maestro). If they are interesting enough (particularly if they are women, a minority, or have a particularly interesting feature or story), and if they put a good show for the audience (nevermind it is neccesary for the music!) then they are signed by an agency. I could give you names and names and names…

  • Robin Mitchell-Boyask says:

    Wincor participated in the recent masterclasses under Ivan Fischer at the Concertgebouw, which I’ve been watching on their YouTube channel. She seems promising. That said, Fischer is the main reason to watch!

  • ??? says:

    No blacks, Asians or Americans. Also strange for an international competition…

  • Wurtfangler says:

    At least three of these conductors are already represented by the same leading agent in the world (Askonas Holt) and already have blossoming careers, so what are they hoping to gain from this?

  • Alfred says:

    Shocking No American or Asian conductors either.

  • Joseph says:

    Perhaps only the most qualified were picked… what a novel concept.

  • buxtehude says:

    Perhaps “Orr Guy (Israel)” contains one or more women.

  • Jacky Ridgway says:

    So what? If there are women conductors good enough, they will get selected. You must not have positive discrimination in the arts.

  • Not fair says:

    What do we have?
    One Dudamel-twin (Vasquez)
    One woman (not the best of them but she lives in EU, and as we know from Donatella Flick Competition – there is only EU and UK where one could find real conductor (sarcasm)
    Three big askonas holt stars (why not?)
    Totally new jury
    Mark Stringer among others (you know that is no universe he’ll be called for this competition as a jury… but covid made it possible…)
    Previous winner (Lavah Shani) in jury. Should judge guys of his age.
    If the Mahler Competition isn’t dead – tell me the opposite. I watched 7 candidates of this day. My God! First one is horrible, second one is rather good and then pupils and students only. It’s like a competition of your art university. Professors watching young students. You’ll say – but the comp is for young conductors! Yep! And they at least should be better than the other 500 young boys and girls that weren’t admitted for the contest.
    But I see the opposite. Who is in charge of choosing these people for the competition?
    Wtf is Vasquez doing here?
    Dear Mahler Comp, welcome to the rubbish competitions like Bucharest one.

    • GHJmusic says:

      Oh, and don’t forget: Stringer was the teacher of the only woman in the competition…

      Mmmh woman and former student of a juror. I think I know who is going to win!

    • Askonas... says:

      Also interesting, three Askonas Holt conductors, one Askonas Judge: Martin Campbell-White (Consultant und Gründer von Askonas Holt) and Mrs.Wincor studied with Stringer in Vienna.

      Nachtigall ick hör dir trapsen.
      And so here a quote from “Wunderhorn”:

      Lob des hohen Verstandes

      Einstmals in einem tiefen Tal

      Kukuk und Nachtigall

      Täten ein Wett anschlagen:

      Zu singen um das Meisterstück:

      „Gewinn es Kunst, gewinn es Glück,

      Dank soll er davon tragen.“

      Der Kukuk sprach: So dirs gefällt,

      Hab ich den Richter wählt,

      Und tät gleich den Esel ernennen.

      Denn weil er hat zwei Ohren groß,

      So kann er hören desto bos,

      Und was recht ist, kennen.

      Sie flogen vor den Richter bald.

      Wie dem die Sache ward erzählt,

      Schuf er, sie sollten singen.

      Die Nachtigall sang lieblich aus,

      Der Esel sprach, du machst mirs kraus.

      Du machst mir’s kraus! Ija! Ija!

      Ich kanns in Kopf nicht bringen.

      Der Kukuk drauf fing an geschwind

      Sein Sang durch Terz und Quart und Quint.

      Dem Esel gfiels, er sprach nur: Wart!

      Dein Urteil will ich sprechen.

      Wohl sungen hast du Nachtigall,

      Aber Kukuk singst gut Choral,

      Und hältst den Takt fein innen;

      Das sprech ich nach mein’ hohn Verstand,

      Und kost es gleich ein ganzes Land,

      So laß ichs dich gewinnen.

      Kukuk, Kukuk, Ija!


      In Praise of High Intellect

      English Translation © Richard Stokes

      Once upon a time in a deep valley

      The cuckoo and the nightingale

      Between them made a wager:

      Whoever sang the finer song,

      Whoever won by skill or luck,

      Should carry off the prize.

      The cuckoo said: I have, so please you,

      Already chosen the judge.

      And named the donkey straight away,

      Because with his two large ears

      He’ll hear much clearer what is bad,

      And also know what’s good.

      So soon they flew before the judge,

      When he was told how matters stood,

      He commanded them to sing.

      The nightingale sand beautifully,

      The donkey said, you’re confusing me.

      You’re confusing me. Hee-haw! Hee-haw!

      I just can’t understand it.

      Whereat the cuckoo quickly sang

      His song through thirds and fourths and fifths.

      The donkey liked it, merely said: wait,

      Wait while I give my verdict.

      Nightingale, you sang well,

      But you, cuckoo, sing a fine hymn

      And keep the strictest measure;

      My high intellect pronounces this,

      And though it cost a whole country,

      I declare you now the winner.

      Cuckoo, cuckoo, hee-haw!

    • GG82 says:

      Is age the last form of discrimination acceptable in music?

      There are many bad things to be said about competitions in general. For me one of the worst is the fact that most of them set random age limits for participation (27, 28, 30, 35…). It does not make sense. Why an age limit in art when there are none in the Olympics? Competitions should not exist, but if they MUST exist, then they should not have discriminatory age limits, and instead be opened to conductors of any age who do not have yet a professional career in conducting.

  • Axl says:

    It doesn’t matter is there one or two women, one or two man etc. If there’s one woman, she’s quite sure better conductor than other female conductors.
    Again, again and once more again – only (conductiong) skills!! Not gender, nation or so on!

    • Giselle says:

      >only (conductiong) skills!! Not gender, nation or so on!

      I am pretty sure you do not know what conducting really is and how the field works.
      If the truth is that everything is equal and meritocracy works, there would be not so many frauds among conductors (both male and female).

      Many factors play a huge role, including family connections (we can observe in almost all competitions) or other unknown for us reasons.

  • Anon says:

    The profession with the largest percentage of frauds among its practitioners is also the last to welcome gender equality? No surprise here. The same factors that enabled frauds to thrive also prevented women from taking up the job. Now you can enjoy working with frauds that are women too!

    If not for blind auditions the gender ratio in orchestras will not look that different than the gender ratio among conductors. Instrumentalists should thank heavens that they can be judged without being looked at.

    • Giselle says:

      As a woman conductor I totally agree with you. Chances are much more women would be selected and the vast majority of the selected participants of this (and many other) competitions would not be selected.

  • Edward says:

    I hope she was selected because of her skills, not because the committee feels they should have at least one female candidate, or media would say, “no single woman made to the competition”

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    Yes indeed. There are three music professions where it is possible to be a fraud and still receive praise and be successful. The three professions are composer, conductor, and musicologist.

  • Leo Doherty says:

    My advice to these competitors is not to perform during rehearsal time but rather focus on the orchestra getting the technical aspects of the composition right.

  • David says:

    Why are so many people so easily triggered here? Nobody in the arts is suggesting a quota system. The reality is that in many industries in the world, women (amongst others) have historically been neglected and discouraged (an indisputable fact). In such conditions, it is inevitably incredibly difficult for a woman to achieve high levels.

    The purpose here is to call attention to such discriminatory culture in order to fix it (conducting is notorious for this). Assuming that everything has always been/is already fair and that there are few female conductors because they’re simply not as good as men, is precisely what perpetuates the hindrance of women’s participation and achievement. I know classical music audiences tend to be the older generations who lacked this kind of perspective in their education, but seriously, you need to catch up, otherwise you are surely going to be left behind and we’re not going to wait for you.

  • Wayne says:

    There actually was another female contestant, Yeo Ryeong Ahn, from Korea. Also curious why Norman failed to list Wilson Ng, another asian candidate.