Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Fanfare for the uncommon woman conducting competition winner

Elim Chan
Photo: Clive Totman/LSO

The Donatella Flick Conducting Competition was won last night by Elim Chan, a 28-year-old conductor from Hong Kong. It's the first time the contest has ever chosen a woman as its winner. Chan will receive £15,000 towards her studies and concert engagements, a one-year post as assistant conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (under whose auspices the contest takes place) and a chance to take part in the orchestra's learning and participation activities. Runners-up were Jirí Rožen (Czech Republic) and Mihhail Gerts (Estonia).

Here is Elim's biography from the University of Michigan, where she's currently studying for a doctorate.

Born in Hong Kong, Elim Chan is the Music Director of the Michigan Pops Orchestra and the University of Michigan Campus Philharmonia Orchestra. Trained early in piano and voice, she gave her first public concert at age nine singing "Tomorrow" from Annie with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Elim was awarded the prestigious Harriet Dey Barnum Memorial Prize and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music with high honors from Smith College. In 2011, she completed her Masters degree in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance studying with Kenneth Kiesler. Elim has also studied with renowned conducting pedagogues Gustav Meier, Colin Metters and with Marin Alsop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.

Passionate about advocating new music, Elim has premiered and promoted numerous works composed by her UM colleagues- Michael-Thomas Foumai Roger Zare, David Biedenbender, Donia Jarrar. An active orchestral conductor, she received invitations to conduct the Hong Kong Children's Symphony Orchestra in 2011, and her work led to reengagements in 2012.

Internationally, this June Elim was one of the five fellows invited by Pinchas Zukerman to conduct the renowned National Arts Centre Orchestra in Canada. Recently, Elim also completed her July-August residency in Chile conducting the Bicentennial Youth Orchestra of Curanilahue in Chile, whose founding was to inspire and bring together poor but talented youth of the region through music. She also conducted the University of Talca's Symphony Orchestra with the invitation from Maestro Américo Giusti Muñoz. This fall, Elim is returning to the University of Michigan to pursue her doctoral studies in Orchestral Conducting.