The City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra (CCSO) performs six concerts a year in Cambridge’s leading concert hall, the West Road University Concert Hall, under the baton of its Musical Director, Robert Hodge. The orchestra has always worked with young soloists at the start of their careers and has recently made a commitment to include partnerships with young composers and conductors as well. The first CCSO Young Conductors’ Competition took place in 2015/16. The winner of the first CCSO Young Conductors’ Competition was Sean Dunn, who was guided through the rehearsal process by Robert Hodge before conducting the Academic Festival Overture by Brahms in the autumn of 2016. The winner 2017/18 competition was Tess Jackson from Cambridge, who conducted the Overture to Euryanthe by Weber in May 2018. 2019 sees the start of the third competition which will involve the winner in rehearsals in the spring of 2020 culminating with conducting a performance of Rossini’s Semiramide Overture in the concert on 21st March 2020.
The application process is relatively straightforward being based on an initial written application from which up to six candidates will be selected and asked to attend a mixed interview and practical audition. The interview process is aimed at giving the jury a bit more understanding of the candidate’s intellectual approach to music whilst the practical audition seeks to understand the current abilities and potential of the candidate.
Candidates will also be asked to demonstrate conducting and rehearsing skills by working on the following repertoire, performed by piano duet:
Beethoven Symphony No 1 1st movement
Dvorak Slavonic Dance Op46 no.2
Clearly demonstrating rehearsal and conducting techniques whilst working with two pianists will not be the same as having to stand in front of a full orchestra!
Shortlisted candidates for Round One will be informed no later than 15th September, 2019. Round One will take place on Sunday, October 20th in Cambridge. Full details of the venue and directions will be issued to the shortlisted candidates.
The opportunity to stand in front of the full orchestra will be offered to up to three of the six candidates selected by the adjudication panel to go forward to the next part of the competition. It is important that the whole orchestra gets to “view” the potential candidates – after all they will be playing together in a concert. The successful candidates for Round 2 will be chosen to audition with the CCSO on the evening of Tuesday, 17th December, 2019. The successful candidates will be notified by the end of October, and will be provided with full details, including directions to the orchestra’s rehearsal location and particulars of the repertoire to be rehearsed. Each candidate will be asked to work with the orchestra for thirty minutes, during which time he or she should demonstrate conducting ability, communication skills and rehearsal technique. The winner will be chosen and informed before Christmas 2019 and will be asked to rehearse a work with the orchestra and perform that work in our March 2020 concert.