We received 381 applications for our fifth Mahler Competition. We have invited 14 candidates to Bamberg – three women, eleven men. Applications came in from a total of 64 countries (13% women, 87% men): the USA topped the list with 44 applications, followed by South Korea (24), Japan and Great Britain (22 each), Germany (21), Russia and Italy (20 each). The full list of applicants’ countries of origin ranges from Albania and Azerbaijan, through Indonesia, Iran and Israel, to Macao, Moldavia and New Zealand. For the first time, conductors also applied from Guatemala and even Central Africa! With this in mind, the Jury has decided to invite 21-year old Brian Kepher from Kenya to attend the Competition as a guest. This means that all five continents will be represented in Bamberg.
The candidates will arrive in a city which offers an ideal mix of 1000 years of history, world heritage, entertainment and natural environment, and they will come before a Jury of top-ranking conductors, composers, artists and managers. The toughest of challenges, but ideal conditions to compete under – we have always set great store by that. Even if only one candidate can win, we trust that their time in Bamberg will further all their careers in music. Making sure that a level contest delivers the best outcome for each candidate – as we see it, that is the true purpose of competitions.
We hope that all our candidates – no matter how the Competition turns out – will enjoy a similar experience in Bamberg to that of Gustavo Dudamel, winner of the first Mahler Competition in 2004, who still remembers: »I am eternally thankful that the Bamberg Symphony has helped me with their professional perfection, musical integrity and that special kind of human warmth that makes them a truly unique ensemble.«
Jonathan Nott Marcus Rudolf Axt
Chief Conductor Chief Executive