SEPTEMBER THE 13th 2021, SEPTEMBER THE 18th 2021



Artes Association, in cooperation with Sofia Philharmonic and Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra, proudly presents the second edition of Arthur Nikisch International Conducting Competition.

The competition will be entirely LIVE and will be held in Sofia (Bulgaria Hall) and Pleven (Pleven State Philharmonic) from September the 13th until September the 18th 2021.

The candidates are welcome to apply from January the 25th 2021 until July the 31st 2021.

The repertoire of the competition, ranging from vocal to symphonic music, is intended to test in deep the knowledge and the artistry of the admitted conductors.

As an international competition with the aim to help emerging conductors to develop their career, Arthur Nikisch Competition provides an impressive set of opportunities to the winners and a huge media exposure to all the admitted candidates.

The prizes consist in professional opportunities with some of the most prestigious institutions of the countries involved, such as Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra and Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria, Opéra Grand Avignon in France, Teatro Massimo Bellini di Catania in Italy, Nizhny Novgorod Academic Theatre in Russia; the members of the jury are well known musicians from Europe, Russia and the United States of America.

The wide geographic distribution along with the prestige of the institutions and personalities involved, guarantees a wide range of opportunities to the winners, a unicum in the current panorama of classical music competitions.

Also unique is the fact that all the live stages of the competition will be held in front of the audience, thus offering an even larger visibility to the participants and the opportunity for everyone to make his/her opinion on the candidates. 





1.a The competition is open to musicians from any nationality, of both sexes and without any age limit; 

1.b The competition is structured in two main phases: ELIMINATORY PHASE and FINAL PHASE; 

1.c the ELIMINATORY PHASE starts January the 25th 2021 and ends on July the 31st 2021 and consists in the examination of videos and CVs (please check the guidelines for the videos at the bottom of the page);

1.d the FINAL PHASE will take place from September the 13th until September the 18th 2021 in Pleven and Sofia (Bulgaria) and consists on rehearsals and a concert with Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra in Pleven and Sofia; 

1.e in order to participate the candidates have to fill the on-line application form on the website and send all the required documents;


2.a the candidates are requested to make available to the jury two videos (please check the guidelines at the bottom of the page) and a recent CV;

2.b the candidates selected to take part to the FINAL PHASE will be informed a few days after the end of the ELIMINATORY PHASE, July the 31st 2021 and their names will also be published on the website and on the social media of the competition;



3.a the FINAL PHASE consists on a First Round, a Second Round, a Semifinal and a Final in which the candidates will have to conduct Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra with full instrumentation and the vocal cast of the Philharmonic, according to the schedule below;

3.b the admitted candidates will have to choose the pieces they want to conduct among the given repertoire, except for the Semifinal and Final phase; 

3.c in each Round the candidates will have a limited amount of time to show their proficiency to the jury; the exact amount of time can vary according to the decision of the jury;

3.d all the stages of the final phase of the competition will be held in front of the audience;



Each candidate will have to choose two symphonic pieces and two vocal pieces (in total 4 pieces) from the following lists; the candidates will have to decide the pieces they want to conduct at the moment of the confirmation of their acceptance to the FINAL PHASE;

SYMPHONIC (2 pieces to be chosen)

  • A. Dvorak: Symphony n° 9 “from the New World” mov. 1 ; Adagio – Allegro molto
  • A. Dvorak: Symphony n° 9 “from the New World” mov. 4 ;  Allegro con fuoco
  • L. van Beethoven: Symphony n° 5 in C minor mov. 1 ; Allegro con brio
  • L. van Beethoven: Symphony n° 5 in C minor mov. 3 ; Allegro
  • L. van Beethoven: Egmont Ouverture 

VOCAL (2 pieces to be chosen)

  • W.A. Mozart, from “Don Giovanni”: Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata
  • W.A. Mozart, from “Don Giovanni”: Dalla sua pace
  • W.A. Mozart, from “Le nozze di Figaro”: non più andrai
  • G. Donizetti, from “L’Elisir d’Amore”: Una furtiva lagrima
  • G. Donizetti, from “Don Pasquale”: Bella siccome un angelo
  • G. Bizet, from “Carmen”: Habanera
  • G. Rossini, from “L’italiana in Algeri”: Cruda sorte
  • P. I. Tchaikovsky, from “Eugene Onegin” Lensky’s aria “Kuda, kuda, vi udalilis”
  • P. I. Tchaikovsky, from “Eugene Onegin” Tatiana’s letter aria “Puskai pogibnu ya, no pryezhde”
  • C. M. von Weber, from “Der Freischutz”: Leise leise
  • J. Strauss II, from “Die Fledermauss”: Mein Herr Marquis
  • C. Gounod, from “Roméo et Juliette”: Je veux vivre dans le rêve
  • C. Gounod, from “Roméo et Juliette”: Dieu! quel frisson court dans mes veines? 

The jury will decide which pieces the candidate will have to conduct, choosing among the two proposed by the candidate; the jury can ask an entire movement/piece or parts of it; the jury can as well ask the candidate to run through or rehearse;


 Each candidate will have to choose one of the following symphonies:

  • P. I. Tchaikovsky: Symphony n° 5 in E minor op. 64
  • R. Schumann: Symphony n° 4 in D minor op. 120
  • C. Frank: Symphony in D minor

And will have to choose two numbers from: W. A. Mozart, Requiem in D minor KV 626:

1 Introitus: Requiem Aeternam
2 Kyrie
3 Sequenz: Dies Irae
4 Tuba Mirum
5 Rex Tremandae
6 Recordare
7 Confutatis
8 Lacrimosa Dies Illae
9 Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe
10 Hostias
11 Sanctus
12 Benedictus
13 Agnus Dei
14 Lux Aeterna

 The jury can ask an entire movement or parts of it; the jury can as well ask the candidate to run through or rehearse;


The candidates will have to conduct excerpts from Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite”, 1919 version;

The jury will decide which movement the candidate will have to conduct; the jury can ask an entire movement or parts of it; the jury can as well ask the candidate to run through or rehearse;


The Final consists on a dress rehearsal and a final concert to be held at Bulgaria Hall in the evening of Saturday September the 18th 2021; 

The candidates will have to prepare the following pieces:

  • J. Brahms: Symphony n° 1 in C minor op. 68
  • S. Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto n°2 in C minor op. 18
  • G. Verdi, from “Rigoletto”: Cortigiani, vil razza dannata
  • G. Puccini, from “la Bohéme”: Mi chiamano Mimì
  • G. Puccini, from “Tosca”: E lucevan le stelle

The final concert is part of the competition, the jury will vote after the concert and declare the winners in front of the audience; at the end of the concert the winners will receive an official document attesting the prize(s) received; the Final Concert wil be entirely recorded;



– lEv 4.000,00
– 1 concert during 2021/2022 season of Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra (Bulgaria);
– 1 concert during 2021/2022 season of Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra (Bulgaria);
– 1 concert during 2021/2022 season at Nizhniy Novgorod State Opera and Ballet Theatre (Russia);
– 1 invitation as assistant conductor for an opera production at Opéra Grand Avignon (France);
– 1 invitation as assistant conductor of M° Fabrizio Maria Carminati for an opera production at Teatro Massimo Bellini Catania (Italy);

– Official Diploma



– lEv 1.500,00
– 1 concert during 2021/2022 season of Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra (Bulgaria);

– Official Diploma




– lEv 1.000,00
– 1 concert during 2021/2022 season of “Dianopolis” Chamber Orchestra (Bulgaria);

 – Official Diploma;


6.a the semi-finalists will receive a certificate to attest their classification to the second edition Arthur Nikisch International Conducting Competition;

6.b the candidates that pass the eliminatory phase will receive a Participation Certificate;

6.c representatives of International Artists Agencies and music journalists will be invited to all the stages of the competition;


The jury is composed of:

M° Philippe Entremont, President of the jury

Daniel Abad Casanova, Music Director of the Chamber Orchestra of Valencia (Spain);

Fabrizio Maria Carminati, Music Director of Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania (Italy);

Ivan Donchev, concert pianist (Bulgaria);

Robert Franz, Associate Conductor of Houston Symphony Orchestra (USA);

Ms. Yuki Hasegawa, producer (Japan);

Delyana Lazarova, Assistant Conductor, the Hallé Orchestra (UK);

Yuri Medianik, Principal Conductor of Novaya Opera Moscow and Principal Conductor of Nizhny Novgorod Opera and Ballet (Russia);

Ms. Kremena Nicolova, Professor at École supérieure des Arts de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (Belgium);

M° Frédéric Roels, Intendant of Opéra Grand Avignon (France);

Nayden Todorov, Music Director of Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra (Bulgaria);

M° Alexander Toplov, Artistic Director of Nizhny Novgorod Academic Theatre (Russia);

M° Chavdar Valkov, Concertmaster of Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra (Bulgaria);

Andrea Vitello, Conductor, Warner Artist (Italy);



8.a in order to apply the candidates must fill the on-line application form (link in the menu) and upload the required documents; 

8.b the applications must be received by 24:00 (Midnight) UTC Monday July the 31st;

8.c the application fee for the ELIMINATORY PHASE is € 105,00; the participation fee to the FINAL PHASE is € 345,00;

8.d the application fee and the participation fee can be paid through bank transfer or Paypal;



Banca Alta Toscana IBAN: IT82 Z089 2221 5030 0000 0704 948 – SWIFT: ICRA IT RR PM0 (zero) of Associazione Artes



9.a the competition is a media event that will be recorded and broadcasted by television, radio and any other media that the organization will consider useful to the promotion of the event;

9.b submitting their application the competitors authorize the organization to the use of their image either through photographs and audio / video that can be broadcasted via radio, television and other media (internet, etc.);

9.c submitting their application candidates also authorize the organization to use their name and image in printed publications related to the competition; 

9.d the organization expects the candidates to be available for interviews, photo shoots, and any other activity designed to make the competition interesting for the media;  


10.a the decisions of the jury are final and cannot be appealed; jury members are not obliged to give any explanation to the participants for their decisions;

 10.b the organization is responsible for the fairness of the judgement and will consider any reasonable complain from the participants; possible complaints must be in written form;

10.c the application and participation fee will not be refunded for any reason, except for the cancellation of the competition; 

10.d the competition is open to the public from the First Round to the Final; sharing comments, pictures and impressions on social media is welcome; audio or video recording is not allowed;

10.e for any controversy the English text of the announcement must be considered;



A. the videos’ aim is to illustrate to the jury the candidate’s skills, thus it is required that the conductor is clearly visible and preferable that at least part of it is filmed in frontal view;

B. any instrumental or vocal ensemble is accepted;

C. the candidates can provide links to videos of performances from any historical period; no more than two videos will be judged, if a candidate sends more than two videos the jury will evaluate only the first two;

D. two movements/parts of the same piece are allowed;

E. the videos must be played in streaming mode (videos don’t have to be downloaded) and must be visible by the jury without any restriction;

F. the candidates shall send one link for each video;

G. the jury will watch all the videos but is not obliged to watch them in their entire length;