Vitali Alekseenok (left) and Martijn Dendievel | Photos: Elza Zherebchuk and Heike Fischer
Double Success: Weimar Conducting Students Win 1st Prizes at the German Conducting Award and the "Arturo Toscanini" International Conducting Competition
What a weekend! Weimar students Martijn Dendievel and Vitali Alekseenok won two of the most prestigious conducting competitions simultaneously last Saturday evening, on the 23rd of October. Master's student Martijn Dendievel, from the class of Prof. Nicolás Pasquet and Prof. Ekhart Wycik, was awarded 1st prize in the German Conducting Award in Cologne.
His fellow student Vitali Alekseenok, also a master student with Prof. Nicolás Pasquet and Prof. Ekhart Wycik, was awarded 1st prize at the 11th "Arturo Toscanini" International Conducting Competition in Parma, Italy.
The Deutsche Dirigentenpreis (German Conducting Award), organized by the German Music Council, was held for the third time in Cologne from October 18 to 23. Martijn Dendievel prevailed in three rounds of judging against twelve participants selected in advance from 274 applications by an 11-member jury chaired by conductor Markus Stenz. In the final concert with the WDR Symphony Orchestra and the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne, Martijn Dendievel conducted "Le tombeau de Couperin" by Maurice Ravel and the sextet "Alla bella Despinetta" from the opera "Così fan tutte" by W. A. Mozart.
"Winning this award is certainly an important recognition. But more than winning the prize, I was especially happy that the time and energy invested is appreciated and rewarded by a professional jury. The hard task now is to live up to the prize and do the best possible job in the engagements that will follow as well," says Martijn Dendievel. The 2nd prize was awarded to Aivis Greters from Latvia. Hangyul Chung from South Korea was awarded 3rd prize.
The "Arturo Toscanini" International Conducting Competition is organized by the Arturo Toscanini Foundation. Artistic directors and music directors of the world's most important opera houses formed the eight-member jury chaired by conductor Fabio Luisi. They selected a total of twelve participants for the three rounds of the competition. The competition program this year consisted exclusively of opera repertoire. At the finale with "La Toscanini", the Parma Philharmonic Orchestra, Vitali Alekseenok conducted a duet from Rossini's "Tancredi" and Act 1 of Verdi's "Macbeth" at the Teatro Regio in Parma.
"The competition was characterized by very high standards. I have been interested in Italian opera for several years. So I was able to show exactly what has been on my mind for a long time. I am very pleased that the jury and the ensemble of orchestra, chorus and soloists appreciated this," says the Weimar student.
In addition to the first prize of 15,000 euros, he received the audience prize, the prize for the best performance of a Verdi duet and the prize of the Conservatorio di Musica "Giuseppe Verdi" di Milano. Sasha Yankevych from Ukraine won the 2nd prize as well as the orchestra prize. The 3rd prize went to Felix Hornbacher from Austria.
Martijn Dendievel was born in Belgium in 1995. He is assistant conductor at the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen and has been supported by the Dirigentenforum des Deutschen Musikrats since 2018. In 2018 he won 1st prize at the MDR Conducting Competition in Leipzig, and in 2019 he won 1st prize and audience award at the Louis Spohr Conducting Competition in Kassel. In May 2021, he also won the Conductor's Academy of the Tonhalle Orchestra. Martijn Dendievel learned to play the violin at an early age, then switched to the cello. At the age of 14, he was accepted as a junior student at the Brussels Conservatory, where he completed a bachelor's degree in music theory with honors.
In 2014 Martijn Dendievel began his studies in orchestral conducting at the University of Music FRANZ LISZT Weimar with Prof. Nicolás Pasquet and Prof. Ekhart Wycik. At the same time he attended master classes with Bernard Haitink, Christian Thielemann and Iván Fischer. He has made guest appearances with the Belgian National Orchestra, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra and the Staatskapelle Weimar.
Furthermore, he has already conducted the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and the Bremen Philharmonic Orchestra. In December 2019 he celebrated his conducting debut at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam with the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen.
Belarusian conductor Vitali Alekseenok has been chief conductor of the Monferrato Classic Orchestra of the Piedmont region in Italy since the 2021/22 season and the new artistic director of the Kharkiv Music Fest since June 2021. He has also been conductor and artistic director of the Munich University Orchestra since 2017. He has conducted the MDR Symphony Orchestra, the Weimar Staatskapelle, the Kiev Symphony Orchestra, the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra and the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra, among others, and has worked as an opera conductor at opera houses in Munich, Barcelona, Weimar, Graz, Orvieto, Varna and Kiev.
Vitali Alekseenok is the founder and artistic director of the "Ensemble paradigme", which performs works by 20th and 21st century composers. In addition, he is actively involved in educational work: he was a jury member of the German music competition "Jugend musiziert", conducted educational projects in Western and Eastern Europe and led numerous youth orchestras in Germany, Italy, Poland and Ukraine. Since the 2020/21 season, he has been working at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main.
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