Australian conductor Nathan Aspinall will be one of 24 participants from around the world to compete in the Danish National Symphony Orchestra’s 2018 Malko Competition for Young Conductors in April. The 28-year-old conductor was selected from among 566 entrants from around the world, joining participants from 17 countries who will battle it out on the podium of the DR Koncerthuset in Copenhagen from April 20 to 27. First Prize includes a cheque for 20,000 Euros and a contract with 25 symphony orchestras.

“I’m very excited to have been selected as a participant in the Malko Competition,” Aspinall told Limelight. “It’s a great test for any young conductor to be at such an event in front of one of the world’s great orchestras.”

Nathan AspinallAustralian conductor Nathan Aspinall

Aspinall, who studied French horn and conducting at the University of Queensland and orchestral conducting with Hugo Wolff at the New England Conservatory in Boston, is currently the Associate Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. He has previously been Young Conductor with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, assisting Johannes Fritzsch, and has acted as Assistant Conductor for Opera Queensland. He has conducted the Sydney, Adelaide, Queensland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras and recently made his debut with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

“I look forward to the process of preparing for this,” he told Limelight. “It will be a great opportunity to grow and develop artistically and personally.”

The Malko Competition, which has been held every three years since 1965, was named for Nicolai Malko, the first permanent conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. This 12-person jury for this year’s competition will include the DNSO’s Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi as well as Japanese maestro Seiji Ozawa.

“Not only have we had an exceptionally wide field of applicants for this year’s competition; at the same time we are pleased with the very high standard of the candidates,” Luisi said. “This is truly the young world elite in what is already a very demanding musical discipline, and I personally look forward to seeing the candidates on the podium of our Danish National Symphony Orchestra!”

While the participants hail from around the world, a number of them have met each other through masterclasses and other competitions. “It means extra excitement both for us in the orchestra and for the public, that several of the participants have met or even ‘battled’ with one another earlier,” said DNSO timpanist and chairman René Mathiesen. “Besides showing that we have many really strong participants, it boosts the element of competition – while at the same time the high standard guarantees that we can all expect great musical experiences in the course of the competition week.”

Previous winners of the Malko Competition include Tung-Chieh Chuang, Rafael Payare and Joshua Weilerstein. While an Australian conductor is yet to win, Daniel Smith – who was recently appointed Principal Guest Director of Teatro Carlo Felice in Italy – took out second place in the 2012 competition.

Audiences around the world will be able to follow the competition through live-streaming. “I’m greatly looking forward to presenting our participants to the Danish public, and at the same time to the whole world through our international live-streaming,” said DNSO CEO Kim Bohr. “It’s a very attractive display window for the conductors, and at the same time we know that the special competitive atmosphere tempts many viewers, listeners and a dedicated live audience to follow the various rounds. In this way the Malko Competition helps to open people’s eyes to the magic of the conducting profession – and the way we are moved when conductor and orchestra succeed together.”