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Success in Finland: Master's student Henri Christofer Aavik wins 1st prize in the Jorma Panula Conducting Competition

Photo:Eric Seehof

Success in Finland: Master's student Henri Christofer Aavik wins 1st prize in the Jorma Panula Conducting Competition

Once again, a student of the "Weimar Conducting School" has scored a great success: Henri Christofer Aavik won 1st prize at the 8th International Jorma Panula Conducting Competition in Vaasa (Finland) in mid-November. The 26-year-old Master's student from the conducting class of Prof. Nicolás Pasquet and Prof. Ekhart Wycik at the University of Music FRANZ LISZT Weimar was invited to the competition from the 16th to the 19th of November as one of 20 nominees from more than 250 applications.

An eight-member jury, consisting of Jorma Panula (chair), representatives of the Vaasa City Orchestra and the Jyväskylä Sinfonia, the conductor Jan Söderblöm (Helsinki) as well as the educators Kenneth Montgomery (Amsterdam), Prof. Johannes Schlaefli (Zurich) and Prof. Nicolás Pasquet (Weimar), awarded the prizes. Due to the comparably high standard, three 1st prizes were awarded in the final: In addition to Henri Christofer Aavik, these also went to Nathanaël Isselin (France/Finland) and Jascha van der Goltz (Germany/Switzerland).

"The Jorma Panula Conducting Competition bears the name of the 91-year-old legendary instructor of so many northern celebrities, such as the Järvis, Salonens, Sarastes, etc.," says Weimar conducting professor Nicolás Pasquet.

His student Henri Christofer Aavik is very happy about his success. "The competition's repertoire was varied and gave us an excellent opportunity to present ourselves in different facets," says the Estonian Master's student. "In addition to the Pulcinella Suite by Stravinsky, the Third Symphony by Brahms and the Clarinet Concerto by Nielsen, we were allowed to tackle a fresh commissioned work by the Finnish composer Jukka Linkola."

Henri Christofer Aavik began his musical education as a trumpet player and later studied musicology at the Tallinn High School of Music. At the age of 14, he began to focus on conducting, and just two years later he was conducting performances as part of a youth project of the Estonian National Opera. As a result, Aavik was awarded the title of "Young Culture Maker of Tallinn".

In December 2020, he made his professional debut with Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Nutcracker" and is also invited to guest conduct at the National Opera in the 2021/22 season. Aavik has conducted the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the Staatskapelle Weimar, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra, the Göttingen Symphony Orchestra, the Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie Konstanz, the Estonian Sinfonietta and various Czech orchestras.

Between 2017 and 2019, he served as artistic director of the Academic Orchestra of the Ilmenau University of Technology. Since 2015, Aavik has been studying at the University of Music FRANZ LISZT Weimar with Prof. Nicolás Pasquet and Prof. Ekhart Wycik. In 2019, he completed an exchange semester at the Zurich University of the Arts with Prof. Johannes Schlaefli.

He attended master classes with Daniele Gatti, Luciano Acocella, Paavo Järvi, Kristjan Järvi, Bruno Weil, Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Johannes Gustavsson. He has also participated in contemporary music workshops with Christof Löser, Steffen Schleiermacher, Rüdiger Bohn and Zsolt Nagy. Since 2021 Henri Christofer Aavik is a scholarship holder of the Forum Dirigieren of the German Music Council.



Jan Kreyßig
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