Five Young Conductors 

Amos Lassen


p style=”text-align: left;”>Sir George Solti once said, “At the end of the day, it remains a secret why some can conduct 
and others can’t. We meet five young conductors in this compelling music documentary from Writer/Director Götz Schauder. Every two years in Frankfurt, 24 young conductors from around the world are 
invited to take part in the prestigious International Conductors’ Competition. 
They only have 20 minutes to work with an orchestra they have never met 
before conducting it before an intimidating panel of judges. We meet 20-year-old Aziz Shokhakimov from Uzbekistan, New Yorker Alondra de la Parra, Englishman 
James Lowe, Andreas Hotz from Germany and Japanese Shizuo Z. Kuwahara who 
conducts with his bare hands. They are tested on an international stage. The documentary is dramatic and gives fascinating insight into what goes on between orchestras and conductors. We see the friendships that develop and the opposition, the talent and maturity and the success and failure of these young people who are on the conductors on the verge of becoming world-class maestros.

In one case we see disappointment when Aziz Shokhakimov, the young conductor from Uzbekistan who learns that he has not made it to the third and final round of the Frankfurt Sir Georg Solti Competition. Aziz was just 20 years old at that time (filmed in 2008). It is almost a miracle that he was selected from 540 applicants to come to the competition and go against 23 colleagues for the coveted prize for young talent.

Conducting has a lot to do with personality and we see that there is not the one type of success. The director places emphasis on close and semi-personal attitudes in which all the concentration and bliss with which the people at the desk live their vision of a particular composition can be felt. But he also feels the exact moment when it’s time to change location and key. And of course, he does not lose the chance to echo all the associations that counterpoint the world of music with the world of everyday life or other areas of life.

The preliminary round, in which the participants meet the orchestra for the first time, is particularly exciting. The conductors have 30 minutes to rehearse with them. The individual conductors are intensely observed.

We see the differences between the various conductors’ personalities and the unusual insights into the inner life and the world of thought of the ones chosen to compete make the special charm of the film.