Mahler conducting competition goes ahead (why?)

Mahler conducting competition goes ahead (why?)


norman lebrecht

June 17, 2020

In a summer when all else is on hold due to Covid, Bamberg is going ahead with its international Gustav Mahler conducting competition at the end of this month. The contest has been held every three years since 2004. Gustavo Dudamel was the first winner.

The most recent was Kah-chun Wong.

Distancing measures have been put in place, but contestants will be arriving from all over the world. Does that make any sense at all?

The jury consists of: Marina Mahler, Jakub Hrůša, Bertrand de Billy, Juanjo Mena, Barbara Hannigan, Helmut Lachenmann, Deborah Borda (replaced by Pamela Rosenberg), Martin Campbell-White, John Carewe, Ara Guzelimian, Marcus Rudolf Axt, Martin Timphus. Whether all will turn up remains to be seen.


  • Suzanne says:

    The most recent winner’s name is Kahchun Wong!

  • just saying says:

    If it follows CDC regulations and distancing measures are put in place, why not? I’m glad we have a chance to start returning to some semblance of normalcy.

  • Clevelander says:

    The Enescu Competition is going on as well.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    How large a stage is needed to accommodate a Mahler orchestra meeting distancing requirements? The rear echelons might need telescopes to see the conductor’s beat, and they’ll have to play ahead of the beat to synchronize the sound at the podium…

  • Bruce says:

    What pieces will they conduct? I’m wondering if they will pack the stage with a huge orchestra as if things were normal, or (hopefully) do reductions — I know there are small-orchestra versions of the 4th Symphony and Das Lied, as well as the Ruckert Lieder and at least some Knaben Wunderhorn songs.

    A chamber version of #7 might be fun 🙂

  • Marge O. says:

    because most countries have a real care system and a real community with competent leadership not focused on economic hustling.That’s why the show can go on with the bad flu.

  • fflambeau says:

    I think it makes sense because it is conducting, not singing which is far more dangerous. Also, Germany has a low rate of virus and excellent medical care. Bamberg is also small and intimate; a nice place but it forunately probably has very little covid.

  • RW2013 says:

    Why should any conducting competition even exist?

  • Edgar Self says:

    Why try-outs for sport unless to recognize talent and foster it. Few opportunities otherwise these days or in the best of times.

    “The Student Conductor”a novel by former orchestral player Robert Ford is full of insight and detail into the training of conductors by failed genius conductor Karl-Heinz Ziegler in Stuttgart in practical situations with student, professional, and semi-professional orchestras, after an audition decribed at length. I read it several tim,es, confused by the ending, which I’m used to. There is always “the problem of the ending”, not just in chess.

  • kman says:

    It’s commonplace to rail on certain women conductors and how dance around with no technique.

    But have you seen this video of Kahchun Wong?

  • Good. Stop living in fear.