Joel Sandelson is the winner of the 2021 Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award. Photos: SF / Marco Borrelli

(SF, 9 August 2021) Joel Sandelson convinced the international jury chaired by Manfred Honeck to award him the prize during the YCA Award Concert Weekend at the Mozarteum Foundation, leading the Camerata Salzburg in concert.

“I think it’s wonderful that here in Salzburg – Herbert von Karajan’s living-room, so to speak – there is this high-carat competition for talented young conductors. Each of the candidates was given the unique opportunity to conduct a fantastic orchestra such as the Camerata Salzburg in a concert programme they chose themselves. All the candidates gave impressive proof of their talent, demonstrating that the art of good conducting has a future. I would also like to thank the jury members, some from faraway countries, who gave their time for our young talents. The decision was not easy, but we finally agreed on Joel Sandelson because he put his naturally joyful musicianship at the service of the music and clearly conveyed his musical ideas. Finally, I would like to wish all those who participated the very best from my heart, encouraging them to continue on the sometimes thorny path of a conductor’s career, and never to lose sight of the beauty of music, which all of us ultimately serve,” said jury chairman Manfred Honeck during the announcement of the 2021 winner.

“I am overjoyed to have received this wonderful prize from an institution such as the Salzburg Festival. I enjoyed working with the Camerata Salzburg incredibly, and I wish to thank the orchestra especially, just like the Salzburg Festival and the jury. I also learned a lot from my two colleagues. Winning was a wonderful surprise,” says this year’s award winner Joel Sandelson.

Newly reconceived this year, the Herbert Karajan Young Conductors Award is presented for the tenth time. It will take place every two years in the future. A total of 250 candidates applied, eight of whom reached the semi-finals in 2021. The prize carries a cash value of € 15,000 and will be awarded every two years to a young conductor aged 35 or under. Furthermore, the award winner will conduct a Festival concert in August 2022 with the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna and a young soloist at the beginning of a promising career. This concert will be recorded and released on CD as part of the edition Salzburg Festival Documents.

The successful further careers of past winners, Gábor Káli (2018), Kerem Hasan (2017), Aziz Shokhakimov (2016), Lorenzo Viotti (2015), Maxime Pascal (2014), Ben Gernon (2013), Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (2012), Ainārs Rubikis (2011) and David Afkham (2010), demonstrate the international relevance of this distinction.

“There are few more rewarding tasks than supporting young musicians and giving them a future. I consider initiatives such as the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award an obligation of the Salzburg Festival. We are very pleased and consider it a great honour that this award now bears Herbert von Karajan’s name,” says Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser.

The Festival wishes to thank Rolex, a great enabler of the arts scene. Thanks to Rolex, the Salzburg Festival is able to implement projects that are artistically important to its mission. Rolex is a main sponsor; Rolex finances the Salzburg Whitsun Festival and, since 2021, the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award.