1. Hirokazu Amakasu (Japan) – I PLACE
(born in 1975)
Hirokazu Amakasu graduated from Tokyo College of Music and was a principal for the Symphonic Wind Ensemble led by Yasuhiko Shiozawa. He studied band methods with Toshiro Ozawa, conducting with Hisaatsu Kondo, Akihito Mihara. Amakasu is one of the leading band directors in Japan. He is a frequent clinician for the Japan Band Clinic. An active a contributor for method books and band magazines, his lectures are also produced on DVD. His enthusiastic and practical teaching style is appreciated throughout Japan. He was also invited to coach and guest-conduct the South Korea Youth Orchestra for the 50th Anniversary of Normalization of Japan-South Korea Relations Memorial Project. He is currently music director of Yamamomo Symphonic Band, having been a primary conductor since its establishment in 2013. He is in his third term as a trainee conductor at the Tokyo College of Music.
2. Guntis Kumačevs (Latvia) – DISTINCTION
(born in 1975)
Guntis Kumačevs has started musical education as a clarinet player and graduated from Music Secondary School in specialty of Clarinet and Ensemble Leader. Although Clarinet was the main subject in school, also conducting lessons of wind band made strong influence choosing next steps in musical life. Luckily, soon after graduating the school there appeared chance to work as a choir master in youth choir and afterwards to get first experience in wind band as a Drum Major (the leader of marching band) and also as a conductor. To improve conducting skills Guntis Kumačevs occasionally attends conducting master class, lectures and conferences dedicated to wind music.
3. Won Lim (South Korea) – DISTINCTION
(born in 1985) Won Lim has born at South Korea. After he goes to Seoul Art High School he decided to be a professional musician. After he did his Bachelor degree at Korea National University of Arts. During his piano studies he won several competition. After finishing his Bachelor Degree he began to study Orchestra Conducting in same school and He got the Artist Diploma. And worked as a pianist in conducting classes, and played with several Orchestras and chamber Music. Also conducted school Orchestras. Since 2017 he begin to study in Germany at Hannover Music school. He is working at Musik theater Operamobile as a pianist. And he was the semifinalist of Ionel Perlea conductin competition at Romania.
4. Michelle Rakers (Denmark) – I PLACE
(born in 1968)
American born conductor Michelle Rakers was Assistant Director for “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band and Chamber Orchestra from 2004 – 2018. She led the band and orchestra in countless high-profile programs at the White House, in Washington, D.C., and across the country on many national tours. Ms. Rakers is in high demand as a conductor and clinician. Since moving to be with her family in Denmark in 2018, she has led the Odense Symfoniorkester, Slesvigske Musikkorps, Sønderjyllands Symfoniorkester, Prinsens Musikkorps, Helsinki Guards Band – Sotilasmusiikki (Finland), Arméns musikkår (Sweden) and the Marinens musikkår (Sweden). Additionally, she was a resident at the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, in 2015 and 2016 and has been a guest conductor/lecturer at many universities across the United States. She earned her DMA in conducting from The Peabody Institute, Baltimore, Maryland.