The scheme was specifically created to promote diversity and inclusivity in the classical music industry by supporting the development of two outstanding early-career conductors from backgrounds currently under-represented in the profession

The London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) today is delighted to announce its inaugural Fellow Conductors: Luis Castillo-Briceño and Charlotte Politi. Having been selected from close to 200 applicants, 6 conductors auditioned in front of a panel that included LPO Principal Conductor Edward Gardner, Chairman of the Orchestra and First Violinist Martin Höhmann, Artistic Director Elena Dubinets and Chief Executive David Burke, as well as members of the Board.

Castillo-Briceño and Politi will be Fellow Conductors for the 2023/24 season and be guided by the LPO’s Principal Conductor, Edward Gardner. They will become fully immersed in the life of the LPO, working intensively with the Orchestra over a period of 6-8 non-consecutive weeks.

The LPO Conducting Fellowship has been created specifically to promote diversity and inclusivity in the classical music industry by supporting the development of two outstanding early-career conductors from backgrounds currently under-represented in the profession. The LPO wants to develop the world-class conductors of the future and believes that talent is indiscriminate, yet it is clear that people from certain backgrounds and communities continue to be under-represented in the orchestral sector. Applicants were asked to self-identify their eligibility which could have included, but was not limited to: gender identity, race, socio-economic background, neurodiversity, disability or special educational needs.

Luis Castillo-Briceño has been an Equilibrium Young Artist since the 2020/21 season, mentored by Barbara Hannigan. He has assisted Hannigan with orchestras such as the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra as well as serving as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Junges Kammerorchester Zürich from 2019-21. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in piano from the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (Switzerland) and is currently finishing his studies under the guidance of Professor Mark Stringer (conducting) and Professor Andreas Henning (opera coaching) at the Universtität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna. Future engagements include the Münchner Philharmoniker and the Orchestre de Chambre de Laussane in the 2022/23 season.

Castillo-Briceño said: “I am incredibly excited and grateful to have been selected as one of the two recipients of the LPO Conducting Fellowship. To have the possibility to work, learn and be part of an institution as important and historic as the London Philharmonic Orchestra is an unbelievable opportunity and to be able to share closely with its musicians, staff and Principal Conductor, Edward Gardner, is a dream come true. I am looking forward very much to coming to London next season and to all the new experiences and beautiful music making!

Charlotte Politi is currently the Constant Lambert Conducting Fellow with The Royal Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet. For the 2022/23 season, she is one of the assistant conductors of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra where she made her debut in March 2022 when she stepped in for Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. In 2020 she was selected by Riccardo Muti for the Italian Opera Academy and in 2021 she was one of the participants at the Conductors’ Academy of the Tonhalle Zürich, under the guidance of Paavo Järvi. She studied conducting in Italy with Piero Bellugi and was selected as a Conducting Fellow at the Accademia Chigiana in 2015. She later studied at the Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe (Germany), and graduated with a Master degree from the University of Michigan (USA) under the guidance of Kenneth Kiesler.

Politi said: “I am so excited for this Fellowship and I cannot wait to work with Edward Gardner and everyone at the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It is a real honour to have been selected by the panel. I am looking forward to growing further as a conductor, developing my technique and own style as well as expanding my repertoire and experience. Having the opportunity to be immersed in the life of one of the best orchestras in the world is a thrilling prospect and I cannot wait to take full advantage of the opportunity.

The LPO Conducting Fellowship will include:

  • Opportunities to conduct the Orchestra in various settings including at LPO residencies, educational programmes, and ensembles of its rising talent programmes
  • Assisting opportunities and mentorship sessions with Edward Gardner
  • Full immersion into the life of the Orchestra, with the aim of forming the basis of a longer-term professional relationship

In addition, and considering the individual needs of the Fellow Conductors, the Fellowship may also include:

  • Assisting opportunities and 1-1 sessions with other LPO titled and guest conductors
  • Feedback from LPO musicians
  • Meetings with the LPO’s resident and featured composers
  • Professional development opportunities through sessions with LPO personnel, visiting artists and access to the LPO’s wide network of industry professionals
  • Opportunities to participate in wider LPO promotional activity such as pre-concert talks and social media activity
  • Additional tailored support around navigating the barriers specific to the Fellow Conductors

Edward Gardner, Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra said: “It was so exciting to hear six of the best early-career conductors audition recently for the LPO’s new Conducting Fellowship. We have worthy recipients in Luis and Charlotte who both demonstrated flair, passion and humility for their future careers. Developing the next generation of world-class conductors is really important to me and I am heartened that we at the LPO are taking the work of improving diversity and inclusion in our profession seriously and inaugurating this new scheme. Luis and Charlotte – I can’t wait to work with you and see you develop over the year!

Elena Dubinets, Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra said: “I am delighted to realize that our new talent development scheme has already sparked such incredible interest in the music community. We received almost two hundred applications from all over the globe and have selected two incredibly gifted early-career conductors through a process of rigorous auditions and interviews with the participation of the entire Orchestra. We will be helping them develop their skills even further by introducing them to every aspect of the Orchestra’s life and we very much look forward to welcoming them to our family next season.”

The London Philharmonic Orchestra has been working with various partners to help improve diversity and inclusivity in the organisation. We are thrilled that the LPO Conducting Fellowship has been endorsed in particular by Black Lives in Music, an organisation addressing inequality in jazz and classical music, and by Drake Music, who are experts in music, technology and disability.

Roger Wilson, Director of Operations, Black Lives in Music said: “This is a fantastic new initiative that will help to support emerging conducting talent while levelling the playing field of opportunity. Developing pathways for diverse talent is crucial to making the much-needed change we all wish to see in the classical sector. Building relationships and breaking down walls are important considerations in developing an inclusive classical music community. We applaud this very proactive and hands-on approach from one of the world’s finest orchestras.”

Cat McGill, Head of Programme Development and Delivery, Drake Music said: “Drake Music has partnered with LPO for many years on their hugely successful OrchLab project, and we are delighted to see this new initiative which will help support emerging conductors from under-represented groups.”

The LPO Conducting Fellowship is generously supported by Patricia Haitink with additional support from Gini and Richard Gabbertas.