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Mikhail Leontyev
(Third prize)

The finals of the 15th Tokyo International Competition for Conducting was held on November 11, 2009 at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall. After winning the preliminary rounds, three contestants out of 152 applicants from 33 countries remained for the finals. The first and second preliminary rounds were also held in the same hall, which boasts excellent acoustics.
At 13:00, Julien Jean Leroy, Mikhail Leontyev and Keita Matsui conducted the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and performed the required piece "Overture "Ruy Blas" op. 95" by Fanny Mendelssohn (Breitkopf edition). Although it was a mere ten-minute performance, the piece opened with a solemn chord and then proceeded vibrantly to the first theme, gracefully on to the second theme, and finally reached the climax. It was a piece that allowed the conductors to show their individuality to the fullest.
The three finalists were all accomplished professionals, yet one could feel how tense they were under the pressure of being finalists in the atmosphere of a competition, which was quite different to that of a normal concert. The point was how they could create, with the required piece, an aura of their own world in a short span of time.
At 17:00, the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra took over and finalists performed compositions of their choice. Leroy conducted Symphony No. 2 op. 73 by Johannes Brahms; Leontyev, "Kamarinskaya" by Mikhail Ivanovitch Glinka; and Matsui, Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique" op. 74 by Petr Ilych Tchaikovsky. The two that had chosen symphonies had to play the highlight straight away rather than building the momentum with the first movement before reaching the climax. The difficult part was spurring the orchestra to the highlight and exciting the audience. At times one could feel they were rushing while at others there were tense moments as they struggled to communicate with the orchestra. Thunderous applause was given, though, when they managed to pull the orchestra forward forcefully.
There were no first or second place winners at this competition. Mikhail Leontyev won the third prize which came with the additional prize of the "Asahi Breweries Award". The audience applauded Julien Jean Leroy and Keita Matsui, who were given the Honorable Mention Award of a cash prize. While there were no first and second prize winners, all three, in their own right, put on vibrant performances and it was evident that the level of the competition had reached new heights.

At the Award Presentation Ceremony
(from left Mikhail Leontyev, Julien Leroy and Keita Matsui )
  • Mikhail LEONTYEV (3rd Prize/Russia)

    Mikhail Leontyev graduated from the Glinka State Academic Capella of St.Petersburg in 2000.
    He had studied the choral conducting under Prof. Tatiana Nemkina-Martynova at the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory of St. Petersburg.
    He received the special diploma and the special YAMAHA prize at the 5th International Prokofiev Competition in 2008. Since this February, he has been the conductor of the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the State Philharmonic on Caucasian Mineral Waters.

  • Keita MATSUI (Finalist/Japan)

    Keita Matsui graduated from the Tokyo College of Music in 2007. He has conducted the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, the Yamagata Symphony Orchestra, the Gunma Symphony Orchestra,the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra and others. He served as the choral conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus for the part of Stravinsky's "Oedipus Rex" conducted by Charles Dutoit at the periodic concert of the NHK Symphony Orchestra. He has studied conducting under Junichi Hirokami and Yasuhiko Shiozawa.

  • Julien Jean LEROY (Finalist/France)

    Julien Leroy graduated from Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris.He has been the musical director and the conductor of the Young Orchestra of Paris "OJAL" and Orchestra Symphonique Paris Rive Droite since 2003. He conducted the Verbier Festival Symphony Orchestra of Switzerland, the National Arts Centre Symphony Orchestra of Canada and others. He was selected as a finalist of the International Orchestral Conducting Competition "Arturo Toscanini" in 2008.