News item: Rotterdam's Conducting Competition

News item: Rotterdam's Conducting Competition

Bertie Baigent wins the first edition of the International Conducting Competition Rotterdam (photo © Allard Willemse)

Bertie Baigent (born 1995, United Kingdom) was awarded the Grand Prix of the International Conducting Competition Rotterdam on Friday, June 3rd. From May 26th to June 3rd, 2022, six young conductors presented themselves in five rounds with several renowned orchestras and ensembles. Tonight, all six of them conducted the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in De Doelen, Rotterdam. The jury, consisting of, among others, conductors Lahav Shani and Karina Canellakis,  announced the prizes.

Here's a four-hour 44 minute video of the finals and awards:

Grand Prix for Best Allrounder: €15,000

Winner: Bertie Beignet

Unique to the International Conducting Competition Rotterdam is that each category also brought about one winning conductor. Noteworthy about the result is that a different conductor excelled in almost each category.

Jury chair Ara Guzelimian: ''The unique format of the ICCR chooses six young conductors and allows them to focus on their designated repertoire many months in advance. The competition itself allows them to work in a remarkably wide variety of repertoire and with several superb ensembles over a two-week period. True to music itself, the ICCR gives these young conductors the gift of time.''

Proms Open Air Concert: €7,500

Winner: Martijn Dendievel

Contemporary Music: €7,500

Winner: Chloe Rooke

Classical Music: €7,500

Winner: Bertie Baigent

Opera: €7,500

Winner: Luis Toro Araya

Great Symphonic Works: €7,500

Winner: Bertie Baigent

Both the audience in the hall and the thousands of online viewers worldwide were able to vote for their favorite conductor for the Kersjes Audience Award.  

Kersjes Audience Award: €10,000

Luis Toro Araya

The finalists

From the 165 applications from all over the world, six young conductors were invited by the jury to participate in the competition:

Carlos Ágreda, 1991, Colombia  
Bertie Baigent, 1995, United Kingdom
Martijn Dendievel, 1995, Belgium
Chloe Rooke, 1996, United Kingdom
Joel Sandelson, 1994, United Kingdom
Luis Toro Araya, 1995, Chili

Five rounds
In five rounds with different orchestras and themes, from classical to contemporary, from opera to large symphonic works, the conductors directed various orchestras and ensembles in various locations. In addition to the evening concerts, the public could see the conductors at work during rehearsals live in the hall as well as through livestreams.

Proms Open Air Concert
The first round (May 26) was a well-attended free open-air concert with Sinfonia Rotterdam at the Kop van Zuid. The conductors directed a broad program with a personal story interwoven.
Winner: Martijn Dendievel

Contemporary Music
The second round (28 May) focused on 20th and 21st century music by Schönberg, Unsuk Chin and Ligeti, and took place in De Doelen. The conductors directed the DoelenEnsemble, a leading ensemble specialized in contemporary music.
Winner: Chloe Rooke

Classical Music
During the third round (30 May), the conductors performed classical music by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, a symphony orchestra specialized in playing music from the classical period.
Winner: Bertie Baigent

The fourth round (June 1) was devoted to opera, featuring a selection from Bizet's masterpiece Carmen. The finalists conducted the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Laurens Symphony Choir and five singers from the International Vocal Competition 's-Hertogenbosch.
Winner: Luis Toro Araya

Large Symphonic Works
The program of the fifth round (June 3) featured major symphonic works: a commissioned work by composer Joey Roukens called Night Flight, movements from Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony, Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony and Mahler's Fourth Symphony. Again with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
Winner: Bertie Baigent

International jury

More than 25 renowned conductors have joined the competition as jury members, including Lahav Shani, Karina Canellakis, Ton Koopman, Sophie de Lint, Anja Bihlmaier and Ed Spanjaard.