Young Israeli conductor, Lahav Shani (24), has taken the top prize in the conducting competition that introduced Gustavo Dudamel to the classical world in 2004.
The Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition, which takes place in Bamberg, saw Shani take the €20,000 (£17,000) prize, ahead of Taiwan’s Tung-Chieh Chuang (30) and Austria’s David Danzmayr (33) – in joint second place.
Shani was born in Tel Aviv and studied piano and double bass. In 2009 he studied orchestral conducting at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin and studied piano with Fabio Bidini. As well as attending masterclasses with pianist András Schiff, he has also performed as a piano soloist and double bassist with the Israel Philharmonic. His orchestral work has led him to work under top conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur and Daniel Barenboim, as well as Gustavo Dudamel.
The competition was founded by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and its principal conductor Jonathan Nott and takes place every three years, with repertoire sourced from across the symphonic tradition. This year it included an obligatory symphonic works by Mahler alongside works by Ligeti and Rolf Wallin.
Joining Nott, this year’s panel of judges from the music world included Jonathan Mills, the director of the Edinburgh Festival, German conductor Markus Stenz and Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin.
Wolfgang Fink, general manager of the Bamberg Symphony, said: ‘It was a close race. We believe we have come to a wise decision.’