The Malko Competition is the Danish National Symphony Orchestra’s international competition for conductors. It has been held every three years since 1965. At the heart of the competition is the goal to identify and bring out those great young musical talents who will one day grace the podia of leading orchestras all over the world. 

Nicolai Malko

The competition is named after the famous conductor Nicolai Malko, who in 1930 was named the first permanent conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and helped develop the orchestra into what soon became an internationally recognised body of musicians. Malko’s dedicated work with the orchestra emphasized that the presence of a thoroughly professional and fully engaged conductor is critical to the development and growth of every musical body. It is therefore in memory of his work that we continue the Malko Competition, determined to provide budding conductors with the best possible artistic and musical support as they follow their challening chosen paths.

As it has done from the very beginning, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra will dedicate all of its skills and energies to the competition. For the orchestra, the Malko Competition is about providing maximum artistic expression in partnership with the conductor in the same creative way as happens in all of its concerts throughout its orchestral season.

Fabio Luisi, principal conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, is the chairman of the 2018 edition of the Malko Competition and will be mentor to its winner.

The Nicolai Malko Competition 2018 is under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Henrik

The Nicolai Malko Competition 2018 is generously supported by
Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond
Augustinus Fonden



20-04-2018 Opening concert with Fabio Luisi and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra
22-04-2018 First round, participants 1-12
23-04-2018 First round, participants 13-24, Jury votes, announcement of result
24-04-2018 Second round, 12 participants, Jury votes, announcement of result
25-04-2018 Third round, 6 participants, Jury votes, announcement of result
26-04-2018 Day off
27-04-2018 Final round, 3 participants, Jury votes, Prize ceremony

Repertoire 2018

The candidate chooses two of the three possibilities below.
The jury chooses one of the candidate’s two choices, which may be an excerpt of the piece(s).
The candidate thus only plays one of the possibilities below.
Each candidate will have 15 minutes with the orchestra.
During the 15 minutes the candidate can rehearse with the orchestra.

1. W.A. Mozart: Die Zauberflöte - Overture (Breitkopf), and 
    W.A. Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail - Overture (Bärenreiter)
2. L.v. Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 - 1st movement (Bärenreiter)
3. L.v. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 - 3rd movement (Bärenreiter)

Each candidate will have 20 minutes with the orchestra.
The candidates prepare all three symphonies.
The candidate may rehearse with the orchestra.
The candidate can decide the order of performance.

P.I. Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 (Breitkopf)
G. Mahler: Symphony No. 1 (Universal Edition)
R. Schumann: Symphony No. 4 (Breitkopf, 1851 version)

On the day before the 2nd round, the exact excerpts will be announced to each of the candidates.

The 3rd round is divided into two parts: Morning and afternoon.

In the morning each candidate will have 20 minutes with the orchestra.
The candidate can decide the order of performance.

Poul Ruders: New commission for the Malko Competition (ap. 5-7 minutes) (Edition Wilhelm Hansen)
The candidate may rehearse with the orchestra.
The piece by Poul Ruders will be sent to the candidates on March 20th 2018. 

Without rehearsal the candidate will perform one of the following three pieces (by his/her own choice):
R. Wagner: Lohengrin - Prelude to Act I (Breitkopf)
C.M.v. Weber: Der Freischütz - Ouverture (Breitkopf)
G. Verdi: La Forza del Destino - Ouverture (Ricordi)

In the afternoon each candidate will, without rehearsal, perform 
A. Dvorak: Cello Concerto - 1st movement (KLHU)
Soloist: Andreas Brantelid
The candidate will have time to meet and talk with the soloist beforehand.

Each candidate will rehearse with the orchestra in the morning.
In the afternoon each candidate will perform one of the following three pieces (as decided by ballot on April 25th 2018):
J. Brahms: Symphony No. 1 - 1st movement (Breitkopf)
J. Brahms: Symphony No. 2 - 1st movement (Breitkopf)
J. Brahms: Symphony No. 4 - 1st movement (Breitkopf)

In addition the candidate will perform:
C. Nielsen: Maskarade - Dance of the Cockerels (Hanedans) (Edition Wilhelm Hansen)


1ST PRIZE: 20,000 € and a number of concerts with Nordic and European orchestras
2ND PRIZE: 15,000 €
3RD PRIZE: 12,000 €

AUDIENCE PRIZE (SMS-vote): 1,500 €

Fabio Luisi will be personal mentor for the winner of 1st prize.  

The winner of the 1st prize will receive advice and support for a period of one year from Jennifer Spencer who, for 20 years until June 2016, was a Director at Harrison Parrott, responsible for the strategic career development of a number of major and emerging conductors. During her time at Harrison Parrott Jennifer Spencer has worked with Paavo Järvi, Sakari Oramo, Yakov Kreizberg, Xian Zhang, Kirill Karabits, Krzysztof Urbanski, Elim Chan, Iván Fischer and Christoph von Dohnanyi (amongst others).
Amongst her portfolio of clients at present, she works as Director of Artistic and Touring Planning with Budapest Festival Orchestra.

The winner of the 1st prize will be offered the opportunity to conduct the Danish National Symphony Orchestra in an audiovisual studio-production of 5-10 minutes length. The recording can be used by the winner for non-commercial purposes, e.g. on the winner´s homepage. Note: The repertoire for this recording must be owned by the orchestra´s library in order to allow free publication. Therefore the repertoire will be agreed on in dialogue between the winner and the orchestra administration.  

The winner of the 1st prize will be offered a photo session with the danish photography artist Per Morten Abrahamsen.

CONCERTS with the following orchestras:

  1. Danish National Symphony Orchestra (several concerts in 2018, 2019 and 2020)
  2. Philharmonia Zurich
  3. RAI National Symphony Orchestra
  4. Opera di Firenze
  5. Orquestra de Cadaqués
  6. Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León
  7. National Arts Centre Orchestra
  8. China NCPA Orchestra
  9. Suzhou Symphony Orchestra
  10. Iceland Symphony Orchestra
  11. Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
  12. The Norwegian Radio Orchestra
  13. Oslo Philharmonic
  14. Arctic Philharmonic
  15. Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
  16. Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
  17. Gävle Symfoniorkester 
  18. Malmö Symphony Orchestra
  19. Jönköpings Sinfonietta
  20. Swedish Chamber Orchestra
  21. Tapiola Sinfonietta
  22. Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
  23. Tivoli Copenhagen Phil
  24. South Jutland Symphony Orchestra
  25. Aalborg Symphony Orchestra

Observers from the following orchestras will follow the competition searching for possible future conductors. 

  1. Wiener Philharmoniker
  2. Berliner Philharmoniker
  3. BBC Symphony Orchestra
  4. BBC Philharmonic
  5. Münchner Philharmoniker


Members of the Jury 

Rules and voting procedure for the Jury 

The competition takes place in 3 rounds and a finale. In the 1st round, which runs over two days, 24 candidates will participate. 12 candidates will be selected for the 2nd round, which runs over one day. 6 candidates will go on to the 3rd round. 3 candidates will go on to the Finale. 
The Jury votes after having heard all candidates. If a member of the jury has not heard all candidates in a round, the juror cannot vote in the round.
Voting is by secret ballot in the presence of a Moderator representing, and appointed by the Management of the Competition. Ballots may not be made public.
The Jurors will vote independently and may not discuss the performances before or during the voting procedure.
If a member of the jury does not participate in the competition, for example on account of ”Force Majeure”, the Management has the right to appoint a new member of the jury immediately.
The Moderator collects all votes after each round, and checks that the ballot is properly signed by the juror. The Moderator and a neutral assistant count the votes and give the result to the assembled jury.
Prior to voting after the first, second and third round, each member of the Jury will be issued with a ballot with names of all the candidates performing in the round.

First round
After the first round each member of the Jury places a “+” beside the names of the 12 candidates whom the Juror deems best qualified. The 12 candidates who obtain most votes will qualify for the second round.

Second round
After the second round each member of the Jury places a “+” beside the names of the 6 candidates whom the Juror deems best qualified. The 6 candidates who obtain most votes will qualify for the third round.

Third round
After the third round each member of the Jury places a “+” beside the names of the 3 candidates whom the Juror deems best qualified. The 3 candidates who obtain most votes will qualify for the finale.

Inconclusive votes
If a vote proves inconclusive, the following procedures will be observed:
a) Should two or more candidates receive the same number of qualifying votes, a separate ballot will be held.
b) Should the votes be inconclusively distributed (minority votes) on both sides of the qualifying line, the contestants enjoying the support of the clear majority will be chosen first and those with not more than one vote will be rejected.
A new ballot will then be undertaken among the remaining candidates to allocate the vacancies.

After the finale, a separate vote is taken for each of the 1st-3rd Prize – beginning with the 1st Prize.
Prior to the vote, each member of the Jury is issued with a ballot on which he or she writes the name of the finalist to whom the Juror wishes to award the prize in question.
If the voting results in a tie between two finalists, a vote is taken to decide whether a Prize is to be divided between the two (in which case the subsequent Prize is not awarded, and the sum for the two Prizes is divided equally between the two winners (ex aequo)). If there is not a majority in favor of dividing the 1st Prize, the vote of the President of the Jury decides in favor of one of the candidates.
If the voting results in a tie between three finalists, a vote will be taken to select, finally, the two best-qualified. Then follows the above procedure for the case of a tie between two finalists.
In the event of all voting ballots for this prize being blank the prize will not be awarded.

After each of the first three rounds the president will announce the candidates continuing to the next round in alphabetical order, without mentioning the number of votes they have got.

After the finale, the president will announce the winners without mentioning the number of votes obtained.

The decision of the Jury is final and cannot be appealed.

Fabio Luisi

Fabio Luisi, principal conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, is the chairman of the 2018 edition of the Malko Competition competition and will be mentor to it´s winner.

Luisi is well known for his deep personal engagement in the music; at the same time his musical experience and range are vast – with principal conductor posts with among others the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Zürich Opera.

Before taking up the post Fabio Luisi had already forged a close relationship with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. But in his new, permanent role as principal conduc­tor, he can challenge the musicians and develop the Orchestra in earnest from this season on.

Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Since 1925 the Danish National Symphony Orchestra has been the cultural flagship of DR, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. With Maestro Fabio Luisi as its new Chief Conductor and a succession of prominent guest artists each season, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra is today among Europe’s leading symphony orchestras.

The distinctive sound of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra has been moulded over the years by Chief Conductors like Nicolai Malko, Herbert Blomstedt, Thomas Dausgaard and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.

Today the Orchestra offers everything from Classical sounds through Roman­tic tone-poems and modern masterpieces to new creations by the com­posers of tomorrow. At the same time, the Orchestra has a special feeling for Danish music – from classics like Carl Nielsen and Niels W. Gade to the very young Danish composing talents.

Each year more than 100.000 music-lovers experience the magic of live symphonic music with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra – both in the DR Concert Hall and on the Orchestra’s major annual tour abroad.

The Orchestra’s popular Thursday Concert series is experienced every week by many Danes on radio and TV, and millions tune in when the concerts are broadcast internationally.

Previous winners

Tung-Chieh Chuang

Tung-Chieh Chuang is the celebrated winner of the International Malko Competition 2015 in Copenhagen. As a guest conductor, Tung-Chieh Chuang has recently conducted such orchestras as Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, MDR Symphony Orchestra Leipzig, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Tampere Philharmonic and Qatar Philharmonic. He worked with the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic and conducted the Filharmonica G. Enescu Bucharest, Oviedo Filarmonia, and Sønderjyllands Symphony Orchestra.

Highlights of the 2016/2017 season include concerts with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken, Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice, RTE Dublin and Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. Furthermore, he works with Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Turku Philharmonic, Helsingborg Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra Taiwan and Macao Orchestra. In October 2016 he will conduct the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra on a tour in China.

Rafael Payare

In May 2012, Payare was awarded first prize at the Malko International Conducting Competition, and in July 2012, he was personally invited by his mentor, the late Lorin Maazel, to conduct at his Castleton Festival in Virginia. This led to a close association and, in July 2015, he was honoured to accept the position of Principal Conductor of the Castleton Festival. In the summer of 2015, he conducted performances of Gounod 'Romeo and Juliette’ and a performance of Beethoven Symphony No 9 in memory of Lorin Maazel. 

The 2014-15 season saw his acclaimed debut with the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Musikverein, and invitations to the London Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic. This was followed by his debut with the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival. In September 2014, he was announced as Chief Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra in Northern Ireland and their partnership is now recognised as one of the most dynamic in the United Kingdom. Highlights with the UO have included his debut at the BBC Proms in August 2016 and a successful Beethoven and Tchaikovsky cycle with many of the concerts broadcast on BBC Radio 3. 

Notable invitations during the 2015-16 season included the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, NDR Sinfonieochester Hamburg, Hessischer Rundfunk Sinfonieorchesterand the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Southbank Centre, plus return visits to the Rotterdam Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra.

Joshua Weilerstein

Born into a musical family, Weilerstein’s career was launched after winning both the First Prize and the Audience Prize at the Malko Competition for Young Conductors 2009 in Copenhagen. He then completed a three-year appointment as Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, which concluded in the 13/14 season. 
Since then, he has steadily gained a growing profile in both North America and abroad, including recent guest conducting engagements with the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Fort Worth, and Vancouver; Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, The Florida Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, and the Aspen Music Festival, among others. 
In Europe, he has established strong relationships with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Stockholm Philharmonic, Oslo Phiharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Swedish Chamber Orchestra. He has also conducted the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchestre Berlin, and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. 
In the 2015/16 season Weilerstein makes debuts with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, Calgary Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, SWR Stuttgart, and Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and will make his Barbican debut when he returns to the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He will also return to the Baltimore, Vancouver, and Danish National Symphony Orchestras; the Royal Liverpool, Oslo, and Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestras; Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, and the Orchestre National de Lyon. With the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Weilerstein goes on tour in Germany, performing in Bremen, Hamburg, Hannover, and Düsseldorf.