Shi-Yeon Sung of South Korea has won the Sir Georg Solti International Conductors' Competition in Frankfurt. The event's organizers announced the results following the September 10 finals at the city's Alte Oper.
The 31-year-old Sung is the first woman to win the competition; she receives a €15,000 prize and a concert date with the Frankfurt Museum Orchestra and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony.
Japanese-American conductor Shizuo Kuwahara, 30, won the €10,000 second prize; 32-year-old Matthew Coorey of Australia, who is conductor in residence with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, took the €5,000 third prize.
Each of the three finalists had to prepare three works for performance — Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet, Bartók's Miraculous Mandarin suite and Strauss's Tod und Verklärung ("Death and Transfiguration") — with the jury assigning one of the pieces to each contestant on the spot. Sung's winning performance was of the Tchaikovsky; Kuwahara conducted the Strauss and Coorey the Bartók. Following the announcement of the awards, Sung led the Museum Orchestra in Beethoven's Egmont Overture.
The Georg Solti International Conductors' Competition was founded in 2002 and is held every two years. No first prize was awarded in the first competition, but in 2004 two contestants shared top honors: James Gaffigan of the United States and Ivo Venkov of Bulgaria.