The second edition of the international competition for wind band conductors Warsaw Wind Ensemble Conducting Competition 2021 ended on 5th December 2021. The competition was organized by the Warsaw Wind Music Association.
The competition consisted of four stages and 43 conductors from 17 countries applied.
Participants were judged by a jury consisting of distinguished Polish conductors and pedagogues: Prof. DMus. Hab. Janusz Przybylski (chairman of the jury), Prof. DMus. hab. Szymon Kawalla (Vice-Chairman of the Jury), Lt. Col. Adam Czajkowski – long-term Chapel Master-Commander of the Polish Army Representative Band, Jarosław Ignaszak – Conductor of the Wieniawa Orchestra, Lt. Col. DMus. Marcin Ślązak – Conductor of the Concert Band of the Polish Army Representative Artistic Ensemble, Maj. DMus. Paweł Joks – conductor of the Representative Air Force Orchestra from Poznań, Maj. DMus. Dominik Sierzputowski – conductor of the Military Orchestra in Bydgoszcz and DMus. Jarosław Praszczałek – pedagogue of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, secretary of the jury and coordinator of the Competition. The Jury was also strengthened by the winners of the first edition of the Competition: Dr. Chris David Westover-Muñoz (USA, first place in 2019) and Manataka Shibaoka (Japan, second place in 2019).
The first stage was held in an online format and was resolved on November 3. Based on the recordings submitted by the participants, the jury selected the 20 best conductors who took part in stationary auditions in Warsaw.
The second stage took place on the 3rd of December at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music. The conductors were accompanied by two pianists – Łukasz Nagórka and Misato Tokuda. During the auditions the participants conducted a symphonic poem Step by Zygmunt Noskowski.
During the third stage, which took place a day later, on December 4th also at the Fryderyk Chopin University in Warsaw, twenty conductors led a larger ensemble – a wind chamber orchestra consisting of 9 musicians. In this stage, participants faced a piece of Charles Gounod – Petite symphonie pour vents.
For the final stage, the jury selected the four best conductors on the basis of the scores from the second and third stages. Among them were: Hirokazu Amakasu (Japan), Guntis Kumačevs (Latvia), Won Lim (South Korea) and Michelle Rakers (Denmark/USA). The competition finals took place on Sunday, December 5, at the Ursynów Cultural Center. The finalists conducted the Concert Orchestra of the Representative Artistic Ensemble of the Polish Armed Forces. The repertoire of the finals included compositions by the winners of the Warsaw Wind Ensemble Composition Contest 2020. Two participants conducted Jiazi Shang’s Double Third Festival piece, and two conducted Jared Destro’s Madonna of the Lilies.
The auditions were followed by a Gala Concert summarizing the Warsaw Wind Ensemble Conducting Competition 2021 and the Warsaw Wind Ensemble Composition Contest 2020. During the Gala, the winners of the Competition were announced. The Jury decided to award two first prizes ex aequo. The first prize went to Hirokazu Amakasu (Japan) and Michelle Rakers (Denmark/USA). The other two finalists – Won Lim (South Korea) and Guntis Kumačevs (Latvia) received distinctions. Additionally, special prizes were awarded: the title of Best Conductor selected by the Orchestra went to Hirokazu Amakasu from Japan, and the distinction for the Best Polish Conductor went to Justyna Chmielek – Korbut.
The Gala Concert also featured the world premiere of works awarded in the Warsaw Wind Ensemble Composition Contest 2020, which was decided last year (the concert did not take place then due to the Covid pandemic). Works awarded in the Polish category: Tomasz Labuń’s Tchnienie Wolności, Piotr Sarnecki’s Joke, Bartłomiej Szułakiewicz’s Weselisko (distinctions), Wojciech Zwierniak’s Szumbrass, Karol Pyka’s Zawrat (3rd place ex equo), Krzysztof Falkowski’s Warsaw Wind (2nd place) and Marcin Molski’s AA20 (1st place), as well as the piece awarded 3rd place in the international category – Joshua Reed’s Aurora were performed by the Representative Orchestra of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences conducted by Chris David Westover-Muñoz, who conducted the orchestra as a reward for winning the first edition of the 2019 conducting competition. Other works awarded in the international category of the Competition: Frank J. Cogollos Martinez’s Sea Winds, Brian Field’s Ecce, reges deiectos! (distinctions), Jiazi Shang’s Double Third Festival (second place) and Jared Destro’s Madonna of the Lilies (first place) were performed by the Concert Orchestra of the Representative Artistic Ensemble of the Polish Armed Forces conducted by Maj. Dariusz Kaczmarski and by the winners of the Warsaw Wind Ensemble Conducting Competition 2021: Hirokazu Amakasu and Michelle Rakers.
Both competitions were organised by the Warsaw Wind Music Association in cooperation with PWM Edition, Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw and Ursynów Cultural Center Alternatywy. The events were co-financed by the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport from the Culture Promotion Fund – a state purpose fund, as part of the “Music” programme, implemented by the National Institute of Music and Dance.