It was a tense evening in the ancient Franconian city of Bamberg: behind closed doors, the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition's jury was deciding which of three gifted young musicians would be awarded the chance to become the next Gustavo Dudamel. The Venezuelan superstar maestro's career began here, in front of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, when he won the 2004 contest. Who might follow in his footsteps?
From more than 400 applicants, only 12 young conductors had been selected to take part. The final trio included two relatively established artists in their early thirties and one callow youth of 24, who won. He is Lahav Shani (pictured), 24, born in Israel, but now living in Berlin where he has become a protégé of Daniel Barenboim. His two fellow finalists, David Danzmayr of Austria and Tung-Chieh Chuang of Taiwan, were unusually awarded joint second prizes, but it was in Shani that the jury saw the spark of possibility they wanted.