Herbert von Karajan
Young Conductors Award

Herbert von Karajan
Young Conductors Award

Supported by ROLEX

The winner of the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award 2020/2021 is Joel Sandelson!

Joel Sandelson conductor
Joel Sandelson
Laureate of the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award 2020/2021

An international career as big as Herbert von Karajan’s may not be the goal of young conductors when they set out, but could well be the glimmer of a dream. The Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award is an initiative of the Salzburg Festival that aims to bring this dream closer.

The British conductor Joel Sandelson laid a strong foundation for his career at last summer’s Festival, when he was named winner of the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award 2020/21. The Award Winner’s Concert with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra in summer 2022 gives him a platform to showcase his abilities. Due to the pandemic, it took nearly two years to reach this moment, beginning with over 250 applications that were received for the reorganized, now biennial award. The jury selected eight conductors aged between 21 and 35 to take part in a Rehearsal Day without audience in Salzburg, where they demonstrated their skills in rehearsals with the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg and the oenm. oesterreichisches ensemble fuer neue musik. Three finalists — Jonas Ehrler from Switzerland, Luis Toro Araya from Chile and Joel Sandelson — then returned to the Salzburg Festival, where each gave a public concert with the Camerata Salzburg on the Award Concert Weekend in August 2021.

A jury of leading figures, chaired by Manfred Honeck, selected Joel Sandelson as the winner. He thus joins the ranks of recent award winners who are among the most exciting conductors to watch out for in their generation — as born out by successful past winners such as Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Lorenzo Viotti and Maxime Pascal.

The Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award is an initiative of the Salzburg Festival in cooperation with the Eliette and Herbert von Karajan Institute.


The Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award is open to conductors from all over the world who are over 21 and under 35 years of age.

Registration for the competition is online. The jury then examines the submitted material and selects up to eight candidates.

Rehearsal Day
On the non-public Rehearsal Day, the eight candidates work on two compositions each with renowned ensembles in the presence of the jury. In addition to a compulsory piece, further works are available for the candidates to choose from.
At the end of Rehearsal Day, the jury will announce which three finalists will be invited to the Award Concert Weekend.

YCA Award Concert Weekend
The three finalists will each conduct an approximately one-hour concert in the Great Hall of the Mozarteum Foundation during the 2021 Salzburg Festival. The concert programmes will be determined by the Salzburg Festival together with the candidates, with a special focus on contemporary compositions.
Following the last concert, the jury will select the winner of the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award, endowed with € 15,000 prize money, at a public awards ceremony.

YCA Award Winner’s Concert
In addition to the prize money, the winner of the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award will have the opportunity to conduct a concert with an international orchestra and a young, up-and-coming soloist as part of the 2022 Salzburg Festival. The programme selection is the responsibility of the prizewinner in consultation with the Salzburg Festival.
The prizewinner’s concert will be recorded and published as a CD in the edition “Salzburger Festspieldokumente”.

Finalists 2021

Jonas Ehrler
YCA Finalist
Luis Toro Araya
YCA Finalist
Joel Sandelson
YCA Finalist


25. May 2021
Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award 2021


Manfred Honeck chairs the jury for the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award in 2020/21.

Manfred Honeck Conductor
Manfred Honeck
Chairman of the Jury
Peter Alward
Peter Alward
former Director of the Salzburg Easter Festival
Gary Hanson
Gary Hanson
former Executive Director of the Cleveland Orchestra
artistic director pianist Markus Hinterhäuser piano
Markus Hinterhäuser
Artistic Director of the Salzburg Festival
Brian McMaster
Former Director of the Edinburgh International Festival
Alexander Meraviglia-Crivelli
Alexander Meraviglia-Crivelli
Secretary General of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra
Pamela Rosenberg
Pamela Rosenberg
former Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonic
Florian Wiegand
Florian Wiegand
Concert Director of the Salzburg Festival


Joel Sandelson conductor
Joel Sandelson
Laureate 2021, Great Britain
Music Director of the Wond'rous Machine Orchestra
Gábor Káli
Laureate 2018, Hungary
Guest conductor of various orchestras
Kerem Hasan
Laureate 2017, Great Britain
Chief Conductor of the Tyrolian Symphony Orchestra Innsbruck
Aziz Shokhakimov
Laureate 2016, Uzbekistan
Music Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg
Lorenzo Viotti
Laureate 2015, Switzerland
Principal conductor of the Dutch National Opera
Maxime Pascal
Laureate 2014, France
Music Director of the orchestra Le Balcon
Ben Gernon
Laureate 2013, Great Britain
Guest conductor of various orchestras
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla
Laureate 2012, Lithuania
Music Director City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Ainars Rubikis
Laureate 2011, Latvia
Music Director of Komische Oper Berlin
David Afkham
Laureate 2010, Germany
Chief Conductor of the Orquestra y Coro Nacional de España

Conditions of Participation

Terms of Competition and Privacy Policy

Participation in the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award is subject to the following terms and conditions:

1. Participants may not be younger than 21 years of age or have not yet reached the age of 35 on the cut-off date. The date of birth has to be verified by uploading a copy of the ID card in the registration form. The deadline for the application phase 2019/2020 is 31.01.2020.
2. Registration for the competition is only possible via the online form, which must be filled out completely and truthfully. The application must be accompanied by informative video material in which the applicant can be seen conducting an orchestra, preferably with various works or excerpts from works.
3. The information / personal data and files transmitted in the registration form will be processed by the Salzburg Festival (hereinafter referred to as the “Festival”) for the administration of the competition and will be stored for documentation and archiving purposes beyond the duration of the competition. If you have any questions regarding data protection, please contact the Festival’s data protection officer at datenschutz@salzburgfestival.at.
4. The applicant agrees to be personally available for any queries under the contact details given in the form. The Festival does not accept communication via third parties such as agencies.
5. The Festival and the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award jury reserve the right to check the accuracy of the applicant’s details. The applicant authorises the Festival to obtain information about his/her activities from previous employers and clients and undertakes to send requested documents quickly on request. Should the applicant fail to comply with such a request from the Festival or the jury within a reasonable period of time, this may result in the applicant being excluded from the competition.
6. The application videos must be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and must remain uploaded there until at least 30.08.2020. The applicant is at liberty to decide whether they shall be shared publicly or privately. The Festival shall be entitled to download and save the videos from the platform.
7. The competition comprises the following rounds: Up to eight candidates will be selected from the submitted applications and invited to Rehearsal Day. At the end of the Rehearsal Day, three finalists will be chosen to take part in the Award Concert Weekend during the Salzburg Festival. Following the final concert of the Award Concert Weekend, the winner of the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award will be announced.
8. The prize for the winner includes conducting a concert at the 2022 Salzburg Festival.
9. The selection of the applicants to be invited to the next rounds of the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award is at the sole discretion of the jury, and it shall not be required to justify its decision. It is also entitled to reject applications without giving reasons. The jury’s decisions shall be final. In addition, the jury reserves the right to cut short works in the individual competition rounds or to listen only to excerpts.
10. Travel to and from Rehearsal Day, Award Concert Weekend and Prize Winners Concert as well as accommodation for the selected candidates will be organised and paid for by the Festival.
11. By submitting an application, the candidate confirms that he or she will be available on the dates of the individual competition rounds and, if selected by the jury, undertake to be present on all dates. Failure to be present shall lead to exclusion from the competition.
12. All rounds of the competition will be held in Salzburg.
13. The Festival does not guarantee that the entire jury will be present at each round of the competition.
14. For Rehearsal Day, the Festival will specify one compulsory piece and several electives. The candidates shall be bound by these specifications. The programme for the concert at the Award Concert Weekend shall be drawn up in consultation with the Festival. The Festival reserves the right to reject any proposed works or programmes without giving reasons.
15. The Festival will provide the required sheet music upon request.
16. The Rehearsal Day is not open to the public, but the Award Concert Weekend is open to the public and forms part of the Salzburg Festival programme. The Festival alone shall decide on the admission of audiences.
17. The Festival has the sole right to make photographic, audio and video recordings during the competition and at the prize-winner’s concert, or to grant permission to do so. The participants grant the Festival the exclusive and complete right to use and exploit these recordings without separate remuneration.
18. In addition, the applicants agree in particular to an audio or audiovisual recording of the competition and the prize-winner’s concert and transfer the rights for the entire or partial use to the Festival by sending the application or at the latest when the recording is created.
The transfer of the rights includes the copyrights and neighbouring rights for all types of use and forms of transmission.
The rights are transferred for the worldwide exploitation of the production in all media, without limits in terms of material, time or content.
The applicant guarantees the existence of the rights transferred in connection with an exploitation in all audio/audiovisual media and confirms that such is not in conflict with any third-party claims or rights, in particular no work or label exclusive rights.
The Festival shall be entitled to transfer the rights to third parties, in particular public and private broadcasters, television stations, production companies such as the Salzburg Festival media partner Unitel, and cooperation partners such as the Eliette and Herbert von Karajan Institute.
19. The official languages of the competition are German and English, and the participants must be able to speak at least one of these two languages at a basic level.
20. By submitting their applications, applicants confirm their knowledge and understanding of these competition conditions.
21. All decisions of the Festival and the jury shall be final.

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For further information or if you have any questions please contact yca@salzburgfestival.at