The CompetitionHaving seen two young conductors – Brandon Phillips and Xavier Cloete, benefit from specialized training in America – Len van Zyl, founder of the national conductors’ competition that bears his name, is confident that the third competition now 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 and Cloete the second one, three years later. The finals of the 3rd competition will take place on 14 February, 2016, 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, that 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 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.