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  • 2023.03.27
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The 2nd Hong Kong International Conducting Competition announces Rodolfo Barráez from Venezuela as 1st Prize winner

The Finals of the 2nd Hong Kong International Conducting Competition, organised by Hong Kong Sinfonietta, took place successfully at Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall on 26 Mar (Sun). Rodolfo Barráez (29) from Venezuela was awarded 1st Prize as well as Orchestra Prize, while Yao-Yu Wu (33) from Taiwan won the 2nd Prize, Audience Prize (Live Audience) as well as Best Interpretation of the New Commissioned Work, a prize specially created to recognise Wu’s outstanding performance of Charles Kwong’s Infinity in the palm, newly commissioned for the Competition. The 3rd Prize went to Mikhail Mering from Israel (31), and Abner Padrino from Venezuela (30) took home the Audience Prize (Online Audience).

Based in Berlin, Rodolfo Barráez was brought up in Venezuela’s remarkable El Sistema which has produced distinguished icons like Gustavo Dudamel over the years, and is currently the Associate Conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, as well as a Dudamel Conducting Fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 2022/2023 season. He took the 2nd Prize at the inaugural Siemens-Hallé International Conductors Competition in Manchester in 2020, and the 1st Prize at the 2018 Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México International Conducting Competition. In 2022, he was selected to take part in the Conducting Fellowship of the Verbier Festival. In this Competition, Barráez took home HK$200,000 for the 1st Prize and HK$10,000 for the Orchestra Prize, as well as a concert engagement with Hong Kong Sinfonietta and mentorship opportunities with selected members of the Jury.

Music Director Designate of Hong Kong Sinfonietta and Co-chair of the Competition’s Jury Christoph Poppen said in his speech at the Award Presentation that each of the 16 Candidates shortlisted from the 194 applications from around the world was fantastic in their own ways, and that he was looking forward to seeing their future development. He also thanked the Jury, orchestra and administration team for working tirelessly in the past week, the audience for their enthusiastic support, composer Charles Kwong for his wonderful new work for the Competition, and soloist Fan Hiu-sing for playing with the Candidates in the Semi-finals.

Music Director Emeritus of Hong Kong Sinfonietta and Co-chair of the Competition’s Jury Yip Wing-sie expressed that conducting is never easy, and the 16 Candidates had displayed during the Competition an abundance of qualities which a top conductor possesses. They were given the opportunity to meet, connect with and learn from fellow conductors during the Competition, which would surely further their success in the future.

The 2nd Hong Kong International Conducting Competition began on 22 Mar and saw two rounds of competition spread over three days before the three Finalists were announced. In the Finals, they had to conduct local composer Charles Kwong’s new work for orchestra Infinity in the palm, commissioned especially for this Competition, as well as a symphony chosen from a list of three symphonies. In the order of appearance, Mering conducted Schumann’s Symphony No 4, Wu conducted Beethoven’s Symphony No 4, and Barráez conducted Schumann’s Symphony No 4 as well.

The Hong Kong International Conducting Competition provides an invaluable platform for young conductors under the age of 35 to establish a network in Asia. The Jury of the second edition was made up of international conductors and people shaping the music business today, including Co-chairs Yip Wing-sie (Music Director Emeritus, Hong Kong Sinfonietta) and Christoph Poppen (Music Director Designate, Hong Kong Sinfonietta), as well as members Lü Shao-Chia (Conductor Emeritus, Taiwan Philharmonic), Thierry d’Argoubet (Former General Manager, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse), Philipp Ernst (Artistic Planning & Deputy Managing Director, Munich Chamber Orchestra – Münchener Kammerorchester), Xenia Groh-Hu (Managing Director, karsten witt musik management), James Cuddeford and Laurent Perrin (Concertmaster and Assistant Principal Cello of Hong Kong Sinfonietta respectively).

Please visit www.hkconducting.com/live for the playback of the Competition, as well as behind-the-scene clips and interviews.


Brief biographies of the Prizewinners

1st Prize
Orchestra Prize

Rodolfo BARRÁEZ (Venezuela, 29)

  • Associate Conductor, Singapore Symphony Orchestra
  • Dudamel Conducting Fellow 2022/2023, Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • 2nd Prize, Siemens-Hallé International Conductors Competition 2020
  • 1st Prize, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México International Conducting Competition 2018
  • Conducting Fellow, Verbier Festival 2022


2nd PrizeBest Interpretation of the New Commissioned WorkAudience Prize (Live Audience)

Yao-Yu WU (Taiwan, 33)

  • Associate Conductor, Taiwan Philharmonic
  • Music Director, Taipei Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
  • 1st Prize, Orchestra Award & Audience Award, Besançon International Conducting Competition for Young Conductors 2013
  • Conducted the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lorraine, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, etc


3rd Prize

Mikhail MERING (Israel, 31)

  • Conductor, Bolshoi Theatre Chamber Orchestra & Bolshoi Theatre Wind Scene Orchestra
  • Semi-finalist, Tokyo International Music Competition for Conducting 2021
  • Assistant Conductor, Kostroma Symphony Orchestra (2014/2015)
  • Clarinettist, Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra


Audience Prize (Online Audience)

Abner PADRINO (Venezuela, 30)

  • Nominee, German Conductor’s Award 2021
  • Semi-finalist, Princess Astrid International Music Competition 2022
  • Conducted the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Gürzenich Orchester Köln, Trondheim Symfoniorkester & Opera, Orchestra Teatro Regio Torino etc
  • Cellist, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra


Competition playback: www.hkconducting.com/live
More about the Candidates: https://www.hkconducting.com/competition/2023-competition/#candidates


Download Images:

From the left: Yao-Yu Wu (2nd Prize), Rodolfo Barráez (1st Prize), Mikhail Mering (3rd Prize)
© HK Sinfonietta Ltd

All prizewinners
© HK Sinfonietta Ltd

Prizewinners and the jury panel
© HK Sinfonietta Ltd

All candidates with the jury panel
© HK Sinfonietta Ltd

Rodolfo Barráez in the finals
© HK Sinfonietta Ltd

Rodolfo Barráez in the finals
© HK Sinfonietta Ltd

Yao-Yu Wu in the finals
© HK Sinfonietta Ltd

Yao-Yu Wu in the finals
© HK Sinfonietta Ltd

Mikhail Mering in the finals
© HK Sinfonietta Ltd

2nd HK International Conducting Competition Finals
© HK Sinfonietta Ltd