Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductor winner announced

Aug 8, 2010
David Afkham AWARD WINNER: Born in 1983 in Freiburg, Germany, David Afkham received his first piano and violin lessons at the age of six. At 15, he entered his native city’s University of Music to pursue studies in piano, music theory and conducting.

The winner of the first Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductor Award is announced today.

David Afkham, 27, of Germany – member of the Richard Wagner Vereinigung in Bayreuth and of the Conductor’s Forum of the German Music Council – was crowned with the prestigious title after being chosen from 80 other candidates by the nine-member jury following a multi-stage judging process.

The Award, which aims to provide highly gifted young conductors aged 22-35 years old with a valuable boost in their career, includes the prize of conducting a concert with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra at 11h00 on August 14, 2010, in Salzburg’s Felsenreitschule. In addition, David Afkham will also receive a sum of EUR 15,000.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Nestlé Chairman, praised the decision to create the Award and said: “I am delighted not only that such a worthy prize winner was selected, but also that we managed to inspire 81 young conductors to submit their application for the very first Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award.”

The tough entry process included presenting a curriculum vitae with photograph, a DVD including written statement on the interpretation of the piece performed using a personal approach, and a complete repertoire list with a special focus on music from the 20th and 21st centuries. Candidates also presented a list of completed projects and future projects, plus references.

In the final stage of the judging process, David wowed the judges in Portuguese capital Lisbon while conducting the Gulbenkian Orchestra, partner to the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award.

The process was judged by members including Pierre Boulez, Patron of the Award, Franz Welser-Möst Chairman of the Jury, Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra and General Music Director Designate of the Vienna State Opera, and pianist Mitsuko Uchida.

Mr Welser-Möst hailed the performance and said: “David Afkham presented a unique demonstration of his ability and is a worthy winner of the first Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award.”

Born in Freiburg, Germany in 1983, David has had a firm background in music since an early age. He took his first piano and violin lessons at the age of six. At the age of 15, he attended piano studies at the Music University in Freiburg, where he also studied conducting and music theory. In 2002, he won the German national ‘Jugend musiziert’ competition.

In addition, David has held the assistant conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra role since 2008. He also holds the ‘Bernard Haitink Fund for Young Talent’ scholarship and works regularly with Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In the same year, he also won the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition.

This year, David worked with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the French National Orchestra, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, the MDR Symphony Orchestra Leipzig, the Orquestra Gulbenkian Lisboa, the Real Filharmonia de Santiago and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra.

This summer will see his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra at the City of London Festival.

His future engagements include projects with the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

Related information:
Press release (pdf, 62 Kb)
Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductor’s Award