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Leeds Conductors Competition

Leeds Conductors Competition

Leeds Conductors Competition

The Tenth Leeds Conductors Competition
8 - 12 September 2020
Leeds Town Hall

The Leeds Conductors Competition is presented by Leeds International Concert Season in partnership with Opera North. Since its inception in 1984 the competition has had a significant role in supporting the careers of young British conductors. Following a break of eleven years, the competition returns in 2020 for its tenth outing.


A note from the chairman

“It is an honour and a privilege to chair the jury of this year’s Leeds Conductors Competition. I and my colleagues are tasked with identifying the next generation of British conductors. It is in one sense a forbidding task for brilliant musicianship abounds but the special quality that marks a truly great conductor is rare and when seen and heard the effect touches us in an almost other-worldly way.

Learning and technique are a given. The less obvious characteristics of a great conductor are revealed through character and personality, charisma, connection, and communication. In the hands of a great conductor an orchestra through its music has something to say that touches the head and heart and takes us to another place. The experience can be revelatory.”

Timothy Walker CBE AM
Chief Executive and Artistic Director
London Philharmonic Orchestra


Competition history

Held nine times from its inception in 1984, the Leeds Conductors Competition has played a significant role in empowering the careers of young British conductors. A continuing partnership between Leeds International Concert Season (Leeds Arts, Events & Venues Service) and the Orchestra of Opera North, the 2020 event is the tenth competition.

The original brainchild of Michael Johnson (then of Leeds City Council) and David Lloyd-Jones, Founder Director of Opera North, the Leeds Conductors Competition enjoyed for some years the unstinting support of Sir Charles Groves. Following Sir Charles' death, his successors as Jury Chairman have included Paul Daniel, John Carewe and David Whelton. Those who have served on the Jury over the years have included Hugh Bean (Philharmonia), John Ludlow, Brian Pidgeon (BBC), William Relton, Jorma Panula and Jac van Steen.

Winners of past competitions have been Sian Edwards (1984), Grant Llewellyn (1986), Martyn Brabbins (1988), Philip Ellis (1992), Brad Cohen (1994), Garry Walker (1999), Paul Watkins (2002), Alexander Shelley (2005), and Geoffrey Paterson (pictured above, 2009).

Leeds Conductors Competition