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Yoon Han-kyeol wins the Karajan Young Conductors Award

Posted August. 08, 2023 08:01,   

Updated August. 08, 2023 08:01


“I was truly happy to win the opportunity to conduct Saltsburg Festival through the final performance. It is an amazing opportunity rarely given to young conductors,” said Conductor Yoon Han-kyeol (age 29), winner of the Karajan Young Conductors Award held at Mozarteum in Saltsburg, Austria on Aug 6 (local time). “I focused on trying to deliver a good performance to the orchestra members rather than winning,” he said.

“I felt it would go well when I saw the eyes of the orchestra members twinkling when starting to conduct Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3,” said Yoon in a telephone interview with The Dong-A Ilbo on Monday. CEO “Matthias Röder of the Karajan Institute told me after the performance that the results were hands-down after watching the eyes of the orchestra, whom he had seen more than too often,” he said.

The competition, held by the Karajan Institute and the Saltsburg Festival in memory of legendary conductor Herbert Von Karajan (1908-1989), has delivered many young star conductors. Previous winners include Dutch National Opera Chief Conductor Lorenzo Viotti (2015) and Spanish National Orchestra Chief Conductor David Afkham (2010). The winner receives a prize of 15,000 euros (about 21.5 million won) and a chance to conduct at the Salzburg Festival the following year.

He attributes his win to the kind advice of his wife studying conducting in Germany and conductor Sir Simon Rattle.” After signing an exclusive contract with Asconas Holt, the agency known for renowned musicians such as Sir Rattle, Myung-Whun Chung, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, in November last year, Yoon took part in the European tour of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (BRSO) led by Sir Rattle as assistant conductor.

On the competition's final performance that day, Yoon conducted four pieces, including Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 in A minor, “Scotland.” He personally chose Korean composer Shin Dong-hoon’s chamber orchestra piece “Of Mice and Men” and the overture to Rossini’s opera “The Barber of Seville” and Mozart’s aria “Oh, You Gentle Star” was conducted as a designated piece.

Yoon became known by winning the first prize at the youngest age in the conducting category at the ‘Gstaad Menuhin Festival’ in 2019. From 2019 to 2021, he served as chief conductor of the Neubrandenburg Theater and Orchestra in Germany. “It is my dream to work with BRSO someday because I aspired to become a conductor after watching a BRSO performance conducted by Mariss Jansons (1943-2019) when studying composition in Munich,” said Yoon. “I wish to become a conductor as part of the orchestra to deliver the best performance.”