Semi-finalists announced for the inaugural Siemens Hallé International Conductors Competition

14th January 2020

The Hallé is delighted to announce the names of the ten semi-finalists in the inaugural Siemens Hallé International Conductors Competition, to be held at Hallé St Peter’s in Manchester from Thursday 20 to Saturday 22 February 2020.

Ten outstanding conductors at the start of their careers (seven male and three female) from around the globe have been selected from a pool of 287 applicants representing 55 countries across six continents. Nine nationalities will be represented in the semi-finals: Joel Sandelson (British), Delyana Lazarova (Bulgarian), Andres Kaljuste (Estonian), Antoine Petit-Dutaillis and Chloé Dufresne (French), Elinor Rufeizen (Israeli), Diogo Costa (Portuguese), Francisco Valero-Terribas (Spanish), Jonas Ehrler (Swiss) and Rodolfo Barráez (Venezuelan).

After two days of competition including a day rehearsing with the Hallé Youth Orchestra, four finalists will be selected to rehearse and perform with the Hallé on Saturday 22 February. The winner will be announced that evening and will be offered a two-year engagement as the 8th Assistant Conductor for the Hallé, which includes the role of Music Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra during which time they will develop their skills under the mentorship of the Halle’s Music Director Sir Mark Elder CH CBE. The position of Hallé Assistant Conductor is a prestigious role for talented young conductors. The first Assistant Conductor was Edward Gardner OBE who held the post between 2001 and 2004, the most recent incumbent being Jonathon Heyward (2016 to 2019). In addition to leading the Hallé during their tenure, the winning conductor will receive a cash prize of £15,000 and the opportunity to establish themselves on the world stage through guest conducting appearances.

Serving as the judging panel are Sir Mark Elder CH CBE, Music Director of the Hallé; Professor Dr. Stephan Frucht, Artistic Director of the Siemens Arts Program; Arna Kristín Einarsdóttir, Managing Director of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra; John Summers, Chief Executive of the Hallé; Carola Reul, Managing Director of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie; Geoffrey Owen, Head of Artistic Planning for the Hallé; and Julia Albrecht, Director of the Artist Management Department of Konzertdirektion Schmid.

Among the unique elements of the Competition is the inclusion of a ‘Digital Challenge’, during which the ten semi-finalists will be invited to engage in a task that integrates motion technology into the conducting process. The exercise will test how each candidate adapts to unusual situations, and the technology developed will ultimately have lasting benefits for the Hallé’s education and outreach initiatives.

The Siemens Hallé International Conductors Competition builds upon a remarkable partnership between the Hallé and Siemens that has been developed over the last two years. Creating links between engineering and music, this collaboration has not only brought classical music to Manchester audiences, but has also delivered a variety of education and community outreach projects that engage children and support communities throughout the North of England.

John Summers, Chief Executive of the Hallé, commented: “Since it started in 2002, the Hallé’s Assistant Conductorship has identified and helped develop a number of rising stars of the conducting world, many of whom have gone on to great commercial and critical success. We are delighted to be working with Siemens to extend this opportunity to global audiences, bringing the very best and brightest musical talent to Manchester.”

Professor Dr. Stephan Frucht, Artistic Director of the Siemens Arts Program, added: “Directing an orchestra and modern business leadership have a lot in common. Siemens has always recognized the value of the arts, which is why we are in a constant exchange with musicians and artists, much like with scientists and engineers.”


Rodolfo Barráez, 26
Birth: Venezuela, Residence: Germany

Winner of the OFUNAM International Orchestra Conducting Prize (2018) in Mexico, Barráez’s upcoming engagements include the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra, Minería Symphony Orchestra, and Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra.

Diogo Costa, 30
Birth: Portugal, Residence: Portugal

Trained at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, Costa’s engagements already include the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Porto Symphony Orchestra Casa da Música, and the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra.

Chloé Dufresne, 28
Birth: France, Residence: France

Dufresne studied at the École Normale de Musique de Paris and is completing her Master’s degree at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, whilst being principal conductor of the Orchestre Inter-Universitaire de Paris.

Jonas Ehrler, 27
Birth: Switzerland, Residence: Switzerland

Ehrler made his debut with Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, Orchestre de Chambre de Genève and Ensemble Modern over the past season, having completed his conducting studies at the Zurich University of the Arts.

Andres Kaljuste, 37
Birth: Estonia, Residence: United Kingdom

Following his studies at the Sibelius Academy in Finland, Kaljuste has conducted orchestras including the Estonian Youth Symphony Orchestra and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, with whom he will open the 2020 Estonian Music Days Festival.

Delyana Lazarova, 34
Birth: Bulgaria, Residence: Switzerland

Lazarova received the James Conlon Conducting Prize at the prestigious Aspen Music Festival in 2019, and has worked with Hradec-Kralove Philharmonic Orchestra in Czech Republic, Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra in Greece, Meiningen and Konstanz Symphony Orchestras in Germany.

Antoine Petit-Dutaillis, 23
Birth: France, Residence: France

Petit-Dutaillis joined Alain Altinoglu’s conducting class at the Conservatoire de Paris in 2017, and has worked with the Regional Orchestra of Avignon, the Ensemble Intercontemporain and Miskolc Symphony Orchestra (Hungary).

Elinor Rufeizen, 32
Birth: Israel, Residence: United States

A recipient of the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship and Charles Schiff Conducting awards, Rufeizen recently graduated from The Juilliard School with a Master’s degree in orchestral conducting, studying with mentors Alan Gilbert and David Robertson.

Joel Sandelson, 25
Birth: United Kingdom, Residence: United Kingdom

Sandelson is currently Leverhulme Conducting Fellow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Assistant Conductor to Thomas Dausgaard at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He previously studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music under Sian Edwards.

Francisco Valero-Terribas, 44
Birth: Spain, Residence: Spain

Valero-Terribas studied at the Superior Conservatory of Music in Valencia, and since then has been Assistant Conductor at the Palau de les Arts Opera House in Valencia and Musical Director at the Contemporary Music Academy with the National Youth Orchestra of Spain.

For more information about the Siemens Hallé International Conductors Competition, visit the website:

Siemens Hallé International Conductors Competition website