(formerly the Len van Zyl Conductors’ Competition)

The 5th South African Conductors’ Competition, established in 2009 as the Len van Zyl Conductors’ Competition, will take place in Cape Town from October 4 –6, 2021.  The next round and semi-finals as well as the finals, at which the finalists will conduct the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, will be announced later.

The only such competition for young conductors, this has already yielded four outstanding winners – Brandon Phillips, Xavier Cloete, Chad Hendricks and Schalk van der Merwe, all of whom are established conductors both here and in some cases abroad.

The competition is being presented with the support of the City of Cape Town.

The 5th competition is open to South Africans not older than 33 on January 1, 2022.  The repertoire in the first round will be Weber:  Overture Der Freischütz and Beethoven: Symphony No 1, in C, Op. 21, 1st mvt.

To date, some eighty young conductors’ have benefited from the knowledge and technical skills learnt at the master classes, and now the Len van Zyl Conductors’ Competition has metamorphosized into the South African National Conductors’ Competition.

Says Louis Heyneman, CEO of the co-founding Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra , “Len van Zyl’s vision and commitment made it possible for young conductors to gain insight and refine their skills from Victor Yampolsky, who gave masterclasses at each of the initial four competitions.  Len van Zyl has chosen to step back and relinquish his name to one that reflects its national importance, and we are grateful for all he did over the years.  Victor Yampolsky, sadly, has retired from his position as the longest-serving professor conducting in America, at Northwestern University after years of dedication to the competition, and we are delighted that Arjan Tien, a guest conductor for many years and now a professor of conducting in Holland, will take over the masterclasses.

The prize, which includes an opportunity to conduct the CPO at an appropriate time, now includes conducting classes at the Maastricht Conservatoire, as well involvement in productions of the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy, one of the world’s leading symphonic wind bands, and other symphony orchestras in The Netherlands, all under the supervision of Tien.

Tien will be assisted by Bernhard Gueller, Richard Cock, Brandon Phillips and Louis Heyneman in the adjudication process.  He is delighted to be involved and says: “To be part of the development and education of young conductors is very rewarding. Students are a constant mirror of oneself and therefore keep urging and motivating you to constantly analyse and develop oneself. In return, it is wonderful to be able to share one’s experience with the next generation, guide and help them grow and introduce them to the many facets of this wonderful, but complex ‘profession’, if not lifestyle.”

Should Covid-19 force changes to the plans, candidates will be notified immediately and the organizers reserve the right to make changes.

You will find the application form here.
The closing date is August 30, 2021, after which a selection will be made.

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