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Result! Young Brit wins Salzburg baton contest

Ben Gernon blasted through the finals today to win the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award. 


Ben, 23, is a product of the Birmingham musical hothouse and a protege of the late Sir Colin Davis (see here), who would have been so chuffed at this result. Here he is with jury chairman Ingo Metzmacher and Salzburg Festival director Alexander Pereira. Press release follows.

ben gernon wins

Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award 2013

The Winner for 2013 is Ben Gernon


SF, May 12, 2013. The winner of the 2013 “Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award,” awarded today for the fourth time, is Ben Gernon.


Ben Gernon from Great Britain, aged 23, convinced the international jury chaired by Ingo Metzmacher during the Award Concert Weekend at the Felsenreitschule by performing works by Peter Maxwell Davies, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven with the Camerata Salzburg.

“The three concerts had a very high level. The jury decided quickly and unambiguously for young Ben Gernon from Great Britain. His great musicality and his special connection with the orchestra convinced us,” said Jury Chairman Ingo Metzmacher.

The idea of the Festival’s Artistic Director – introducing the three final candidates to the Salzburg audience during a weekend of concerts – met with enthusiastic approval.

Altogether, there were 82 applicants. The prize carries a cash value of € 15.000 and is awarded every year to a young conductor up to the age of 35. In addition, the winner conducts the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra in a Festival concert at the Felsenreitschule on August 17, 2013.

Nestlé’s Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe was highly impressed with the abilities of all three conductors: “In its fourth year, the ‘Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award’ shows once again how important it is to give young conductors a chance to present their talent as part of a renowned and internationally recognized music festival like the Salzburg Festival. With the ‘Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award,’ we wish to support the careers of these young talents, and we are happy to give them an important impulse for their further professional development with this platform.”


“At the recent award ceremony for the International Opera Awards in London, several experts confirmed to me that the ‘Nestlé andSalzburg Festival Young Conductors Award’ is among the most important initiatives for giving young conductors a platform for their later career. This year, we are delighted that we are able to give Ben Gernon the opportunity to conduct the Prize Winner’s Concert with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra as part of the Salzburg Festival on August 17,” said Artistic Director Alexander Pereira.


“The Award Concert Weekend is one of the three programme points which turn May into a Festival month, ahead of the traditional Festival months July and August. Then there is the multi-media exhibit re-rite at the Rauchmühle. Here, an installation conceived by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra introduces the audience to one of the most exciting works in musical history, Le Sacre du printemps, in a completely new way. It is a wonderful preparation for the highlight of this musical May inSalzburg, the Whitsun Festival, directed by Cecilia Bartoli. Here, Valery Gergiev and the ballet, chorus and orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre will present three ballets by Stravinsky in the spectacular choreography of their world premieres,” Helga Rabl-Stadler, the Festival’s President, added.

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  1. Huge, massive congratulations to Ben! Last year he gave excellent conducting support to emerging young conductors at the Sound and Music Summer School for Young Composers, held at the Purcell School. We are all very proud of him and delighted to hear about his success.

  2. Simon de Souza says:

    Bravo Ben! I had the enormous pleasure of coaching a horn section with the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Wales for Ben ealier this year! I was hugely impressed by him then and I’m certain this award is richly deserved!

  3. simon clarke says:

    Huge congratulations.
    Ben’s enormous energy and musicality are always inspirational – Southwark Youth Orchestra has benefited from his talents over the last few years. I’m so pleased for you.

  4. Halldor says:

    Hugely proud that when Ben was tuba player of the CBSO Youth Orchestra, we gave him his first chance to conduct an orchestra. He’s as modest and likeable as he is musical; think we’re going to hear a lot more from him – and rightly.

  5. Richard Benjafield says:

    Congratulations to Ben! All of us at the Guildhall School are extermely proud of you. Richard

  6. Jerry Cowhig says:

    Congratulations to Ben! Earlier this year Ben took over as principal conductor of the Bristol Ensemble and has quickly become popular with the players and the knowledgeable Bristol audience. He is a wonderful musician and a lovely man too.

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