The CompetitionHaving seen three young conductors – Brandon Phillips, Xavier Cloete and Chad Hendricks — benefit from specialized training in America, Len van Zyl, founder of the national conductors’ competition that bears his name, is confident that the fourth competition shortly underway will also produce another worthy young conductor ready to bear the South African mantle here and abroad. Phillips won the inaugural competition in 2010, Cloete the second one, three years later and Chad Hendricks in 2016. The finals of the 4th competition will take place on February 10, 2019, at the Cape Town City Hall.
Always mindful of the fact that South Africa is blessed with an abundance of musical talent and that the country is privileged to have many good teachers at a large number of music education facilities where students can hone their skills as singers, dancers and instrumentalists, Van Zyl was also aware that the same cannot be said for the advanced training of conductors. He saw the need for the specialised and vitally important function of music making which is essential to ensure that ensemble playing is achieved in a way which maximises the quality and coordination of the end product, especially in orchestral music.
In 2008, his dream was realized and the Len van Zyl Conductors’ Competition was established in partnership with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, with which the contestants work in the final rounds; with the participation of Professor Victor Yampolsky of Northwestern University, Chicago, the chairman of the adjudication panel and who also provides coaching and master classes to all participants; the renowned Philadelphia Orchestra which takes on the winner as a conducting intern; and counsel and advice from various well-known conductors both South African and international.
A financial trust was created by Len van Zyl.