Ten outstanding conductors have been selected for the shortlist in the Siemens Hallé International Conductors Competition. A total of 287 musicians from 55 countries entered the competition, which is a collaboration between the
Siemens Arts Program and the Hallé Orchestra of Manchester. The ten shortlisted conductors, comprising three women and seven men, come from nine different countries. An overview of the semifinalists is available in the notes at the end of this press release.
In the finals, which will take place in Manchester on February 22, the competing conductors must demonstrate their mastery of a very broad repertoire of works by composers such as Beethoven, Brahms, Britten and Verdi. In the final round, the top four competitors will conduct the Hallé Orchestra before a large audience in the church of Hallé St. Peter’s. The best talent will be offered a two-year engagement as Assistant Conductor to Sir Mark Elder CH CBE, the Hallé Orchestra’s Music Director. The first prize includes an appointment as Music Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra and a monetary award of £15,000. The winner will also have an opportunity to advance his or her career through a large number of guest appearances worldwide.
“The position of Assistant Conductor has already helped a long line of aspiring stars in the conducting world achieve decisive success. We’re pleased to collaborate with Siemens on this project. Our partnership makes it possible to present the competition to an international audience and bring the best musical talents to Manchester,” said John Summers, Chief Executive of the Hallé Orchestra.
Digital component used for first time: Conducting via avatar
A special feature of the competition is the performance of a digital task. In a so-called digital challenge, the competing conductors direct works by Richard Wagner and Igor Stravinsky in front of a camera that records their movements and displays them simultaneously to the orchestra as an avatar on a screen. This digital component poses an extraordinary challenge – one that tests a conductor’s personality more than his or her musical abilities. This is the first time that a device of this type has been included in a conductors competition. The component, which was developed in cooperation with the Siemens UK Graduate Programme, is just one of Siemens’ and Hallé’s many joint projects.
“Our partnership with the Hallé Orchestra is something special. Not only does the orchestra share our passion for excellence, it’s also a key part of our commitment to the city of Manchester. With its unique digital challenge, this competition is a wonderful example of the ways in which technology and art can cooperate and profit from one another in order to create something new and innovative,” said Carl Ennis, CEO of Siemens UK.
Siemens building solutions create optimal conditions for instruments
There is yet another link to Siemens at the event location: the Anglican church of Hallé St. Peter’s has been equipped with Siemens infrastructure solutions. By making it possible to precisely control the temperature and humidity in every room, these solutions create optimal conditions for storing and playing musical instruments. The building solutions also reduce CO2 emissions and cut energy costs by up to 35%.
“Conducting an orchestra and managing a business have a lot in common. Siemens has always placed a high value on culture and the arts. That’s why we’re constantly exchanging ideas with musicians and artists – just as we do with scientists and engineers,” said Stephan Frucht, Artistic Director of the Siemens Arts Program.
In addition to Stephan Frucht and John Summers, the seven-member jury of the conductors competition comprises Sir Mark Elder CH CBE (Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra), Carola Reul (Managing Director of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie), Geoffrey Owen (Hallé Orchestra’s Head of Artistic Planning), Julia Albrecht (Director of the Artistic Management Department at Konzertdirektion Schmid) and Arna Kristín Einarsdóttir (Managing Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Canada) – all highly respected experts in the musical world.