German choral conductor, Julia Selina Blank, has been crowned Champion at the inaugural World Choral Conducting Competition, which took place in Hong Kong from 12-14 July 2019.
Organised by the World Youth and Children Choral Artists’ Association (WYCCAA), the competition searches for talented and rising conductors of the next generation and aims to help them establish an international conducting career, bridging the gap between professional training and the profession.
12 conductors were shortlisted from a field of over 80 who had applied from 29 countries and regions across the world. The 12 took part in the first round of the competition, from which six were selected for round two. Both rounds took place at Tsuen Wan Town Hall Auditorium on 12 and 13 July 2019.
Three finalists were selected to take part in the Final Round, which took place at Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall at 2.15pm on 14 July 2019.
Competition Jury and Choir
All rounds took place in front of a Jury of world-leading choral conductors:
- Dr Brady Allred (USA)
- Prof Martin Berger (Germany / South Africa)
- Prof Ursa Lah (Slovenia)
- Dr Zoltan Pad (Hungary)
- Mr Avip Priatna (Indonesia)
- Prof Ragnar Rasmussen (Norway)
- Prof Leon Shiu-wai Tong (Hong Kong)
- Prof Yang Li (China)
Chairman of the Jury was Prof Péter Erdei (Hungary).
The Official Competition Choir was Utopia & Reality Chamber Choir, a versatile project choir consisting of professional conductors and talented young singers from across Europe.
Competition finalists, Julia Selina Blank, Benjamin Kirk and Heesong Lee, were asked to construct their own programmes of up to 20 minutes from the following list:
- The Spirit Rejoices by Zechariah Toh-chai Goh (Compulsory Commissioned Piece)
- Libera me by Nana Forte
- Miserere by James MacMillan
- Usquequo Domine by Ko Matsushita
- Credo by Sven-David Sandstrom
- The Conversion of Saul by Randall Stroope
World Choral Conducting Competition Prizewinners
Prizewinners were announced as follows:
- Champion – HK$60,000: Julia Selina Blank (Germany)
- 2nd Prize – HK$30,000: Heeseong Lee (South Korea)
- 3rd Prize – HK$15,000: Benjamin Kirk (UK)
- Audience Prize – HK$10,000: Julia Selina Blank
- Choir Prize – HK$10,000: Petra Grassi (Italy/Slovenia)
As well as the above cash prizes, Julia Selina Blank, Heeseong Lee and Benjamin Kirk received study opportunities with Prof Péter Erdei, Dr Brady Allred and Prof Ragnar Rasmussen. Julia Selina Blank also received a concert engagement with the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir in its 2019/20 concert season.
Dr Zechariah Toh-chai Goh (Singapore), composer of the Compulsory Commissioned Piece, was present as a special guest of the Competition and attended a premiere performance of The Spirit Rejoices at the Opening Ceremony of the World Youth & Children’s Choir Festival at Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall at 8pm on 14 July 2019. The performance was conducted by Competition Champion, Julia Selina Blank.
About Julia Selina Blank
Julia Selina Blank is a prizewinning conductor with international experience in leading ensembles, choirs and orchestras.
She holds degrees in conducting from the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich and the Norwegian Academy of Music. Her teachers include the professors, Michael Glaser, Fredrik Malmberg and Grete Pedersen.
She is the Founder and conductor of DAME – north-European female choir and the young professional group, Junges Vokalensemble Munchen. She has been musical assistant in the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir and has held concerts with Munich Symphonics and the Norwegian Baroque orchestra, ‘Barokkanerne’. As a scholar of the German ‘Dirigentenforum’ for young conductors, she has worked with the radio choirs of WDR and NDR and the Philharmonic Choir Berlin.
She was awarded First Prize at the inaugural London International Choral Conducting Competition 2018. Future engagements include the inaugural concert tour with JSB-Ensemble Oslo and preparing the Choir of the Bavarian Radio.
The 2019 World Choral Conducting Competition took place in Hong Kong from 12-14 July. The event was organised and presented by the World Youth & Children Choral Artists’ Association.