German conductor, Julia Selina Blank, has won first prize at LICCC 2018, the inaugural edition of the London International Choral Conducting Competition, held at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Blank, 29, won £5,000 and the LICCC trophy. A second prize of £1,000 was won by Jack Apperley (UK). The other finalists included Pascal Adoumbou (France), Maria Avdeyeva (Russia), Rebecka Gustafsson (Sweden) and Jono Palmer (New Zealand).
The UK is a long-standing leading global hub for choral music and, whilst there are many competitions for choirs, instrumentalists and orchestral conductors, until now there has been nothing for choral conductors. According to the competition’s founders, LICCC aims to reflect the UK’s dominant reputation in the field by creating the world’s best competition in this space.
The distinguished international jury, chaired by Prof Ragnar Rasmussen of Norway, adjudicated performances by LICCC’s winners and finalists. LICCC 2018 received a huge number of entries of a very high standard, from 30 countries and 6 continents.
A highlight of the Grand Final was the world premiere performance of The Cries of Music by award-winning British composer, Janet Wheeler, with words specially written by Euan Tait. The piece beautifully and appropriately drew the parallel between the singers’ experience of choral music and our common human experience of life’s trajectory from beginning to end.
The event was open to choral conductors between the ages of 18 and 32 and is hosted by two London chamber choirs, Coro and Chantage, who were this year joined by distinguished Finnish ensemble, cc FREIA, under their conductor, the composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi.
The focus of the weekend being emerging choral talent, the event also masterclasses and a Gala Concert by the three participant choirs.
Julia Blank said:
‘For me, the spirit in this competition felt very special. The contestants were colleagues and everyone met to celebrate a weekend of great choral music. I am happy to have had the chance to experience this and highly recommend it for all the young choral conductors out there.’
The founders of LICCC said:
‘We have been delighted by the level of support from the musical community for this event, which we are convinced will have secured its place in the fabric of London’s world-renowned choral scene.’
The next London International Choral Conducting Competition will take place in 2020
Header photo: Julia Selina Blank