Taiwan's Wu Yao-yu (from left), German Kiril Stankow and Hungarian Huba Hollokoi. (From the website of the International Competition for Young Conductors in Besancon)
Paris, Sept. 22 (CNA) Taiwan's Wu Yao-yu was awarded the title of best conductor at the International Competition for Young Conductors in Besancon, France on Saturday, where he earned the favor of judges, the audience, and the orchestra.
The 24-year-old graduate student at Taipei National University of the Arts won not only the top prize, but two separate awards for top pick of the public and the orchestra.
"Is this for real?" Wu remarked in an interview with CNA following the award ceremony.
In the final round, Wu faced off against Hungarian Huba Hollokoi, 32, and German Kiril Stankow, 30. The three finalists were selected from among 296 candidates hailing from 46 countries.
Wu secured the prize after leading the Orchestre National de Lorraine in a program of three pieces: the first movement of the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by Johannes Brahms with soloist Olivier Charlier, Suite No. 2 from the Firebird by Igor Stravinsky, and Musubi II by Misato Mochizuki, resident composer at this year's Besancon Music Festival.
"There is still a lot left to learn," he said in spite of his triple affirmation, noting some jury members who pointed out a lack of attention to style.
With his win, the young conductor has earned the opportunity to work with several orchestras around the world, including the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. He was also awarded 12,000 euros (US$16,232.23) in prize money and a watch by Swiss watchmaker Breitling.
The youngest of this year's three finalists, Wu is now the second Taiwanese winner of the competition since it began in 1951.
He follows Lu Shao-chia, music director of Taiwan's National Symphony Orchestra, who won the competition in 1988.
The prestigious event was held yearly until 1993, since which it has been held every two years.
Past winners include Japan's Seiji Ozawa, music director laureate of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Czech Zdenek Macal, a former chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic.
President Ma Ying-jeou, Vice President Wu Den-yih, Foreign Minister David Lin and Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai have sent their congratulations to Wu.
(By Tsai Hsiao-yin and Kay Liu)