Winners of the Grachtenfestival Conservatory Competition 2019 are xSight@ Percussion Duo

On Sunday, February 10, six soloists and ensembles, all students at various conservatories in the Netherlands, competed for a professional jury prize and the public jury prize at the Grachtenfestival Conservatory Competition. Councilor Touria Meliani, from Amsterdam, presented both prizes in a sold out NedPho-koepel. "The jury was impressed of the high level of the performances," said jury chairman Frank van den Brink.

xSight@ Percussion Duo (Jose MiƱarro Sanchez en Georgi Tsenov), winnaars van de Vakjuryprijs, Wethouder Touria Meliani en de winnaar van de Publieksprijs: Elenora Hu. Foto: Melle Meivogel.

The jury praised the xSight@ Percussion Duo (Codarts, Rotterdam) with its convincing performance full of "exceptional coloring in dynamics. The duo challenges each other and is perfectly adapted to each other. It was a performance that caught you, "says jury chairman Van den Brink, who is the first clarinetist at the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. The jury was impressed by the mature performance of public prize winner Elenora Hu and her control of her voice as an instrument and fully understood the appreciation from the audience.

The finalists were judged by the jury on instrument control, choice of repertoire and the jury also looked at the way the musicians presented themselves to the audience. A few weeks before the final, all finalists received presentation training from Ab Nieuwdorp, a presenter of NPO Radio 4 and artistic advisor of the Grachtenfestival. xSight@ Percussion Duo wins a performance at the Lunchtime Concerts of the Concertgebouw on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019.

The Amsterdam counselor for Art & Culture, Touria Meliani, presented both prizes and emphasized the importance of spreading the Grachtenfestival concerts in all Amsterdam districts. The winners of the Grachtenfestival Conservatory Competition will perform during the festival, which will take place from August 9 till 18, 2019.

In addition to Frank van den Brink, the jury consisted of Pieter Alferink (talent scout and former impresario), Emlyn Stam (viola player, artistic director of the New European Ensemble), Mariana Izman (pianist, teacher 'Yehudi Menuhin School), Frederike Berntsen (music journalist at the newspaper Trouw) and Lestari Scholtes (secretary, programmer Grachtenfestival).


For more than twenty years the Grachtenfestival has been offering a stage to young musicians. The Conservatory Competition is held since 2003 and offers a stage for students a the Dutch conservatory to present themselves to the Dutch public. All Dutch conservatories send candidates to the national preliminary round, where a jury selects five candidates for the final. The sixth finalist is chosen by the audience.


Previous editions of the Netherlands Conservatory Competition were won by Matthijs Leffers, tuba (2018 Prince Claus Conservatory of Groningen), Kristina Vårlid, guitar (2017 Prince Claus Conservatory of Groningen), Raoul Steffani, baritone (2016 Fontys Academy of the Arts, Tilburg), Daahoud Salim, pianist (2015, Conservatorium van Amsterdam), Vincent van Amsterdam, accordion (2014, Fontys University of the Arts Tilburg), Nicolas van Poucke, piano (2013, Conservatorium van Amsterdam), Davai Perkusion (2013, Royal Conservatory The Hague) , Lidy Blijdorp, cello (2012, Conservatorium van Amsterdam), Blake Weston, clarinet (2011, Conservatorium van Amsterdam), Anne Veinberg, piano (2009, Codarts Rotterdam), Pia Greiner, cello (2008, Prince Claus Conservatorium Groningen), Dimitar Dimitrov, piano (2007, Prince Claus Conservatoire Groningen). Mirjam Overlach, harp (2006, Conservatorium van Amsterdam), Viktoriya Yermolyeva, piano (2005, Codarts Rotterdam), Frederieke Saeijs, violin (2004, Royal Conservatory The Hague), Niels Meliefste, percussion (2003, Royal Conservatory The Hague).