The jury of the competition

Lorenzo Donati

(Italy)
President of the Jury

Composer, conductor and violinist. He was educated in Arezzo, Florence, and at the Fiesole Music School, the Accademia Chigiana di Siena, and the Accademia di Francia. He studied composition with Pascal Dusapin, Ennio Morricone, Rosario Mirigliano, Romano Pezzati, Camillo Togni, and Azio Corghi. He attended conducting classes with Rinaldo Alessandrini, René Clemencic, Ottavio Dantone, Diego Fasolis, Roberto Gabbiani, Gary Graden, Carl Høgset, and Peter Neuman.

As a choir conductor he won first prize at the IV. International Competition Mariele Ventre in Bologna (2007). He has received commissions from prestigious international musical organizations and institutions and has won important first prizes in the composition competitions. He has conducted prestigious orchestras in Italy. 

He also leads prestigious choirs and vocal groups: Insieme Vocale Vox Cordis (from 1997), UT Insieme Vocale-Consonante (from 2014), Coro Giovanile Italiano (2011-2015), Hesperimenta Vocal Ensemble (1996-2011). With these groups he won first prizes and special prizes in many national and international competitions such as Arezzo, Cantonigròs, Gorizia, Montreux, Senlis, Tours and Varna. In 2016, with the UT Ensemble, he also won the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing.

From 2016 he is the conductor of the professional choir Coro della Cattedrale di Siena Guido Chigi Saracini and conducts important professional choirs like: Euro Choir (2016, 2017), Devlet Çoksesli Korosu (Turkish State Choir), Zbor Slovenske Filharmonije (Slovenian Philharmonic Choir). 

He is a professor at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Venice, teaches at the Chigiana Summer Academy in Siena and at the Accademia Corale Italiana. Invited as a member of the jury in the most important international choral music and composition competitions, he holds seminars and courses in numerous international masterclasses and festivals.

Bence Kutrik

(Hungary)

Artisjus award-winning composer Bence Kutrik has studied in San Francisco (San Francisco Conservatory of Music), Toronto (University of Toronto) and Budapest (Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music). He has taken part in several masterclasses and has won numerous concert and film music awards both abroad and in Hungary. His compositional work is based on the classical European tradition, but his musical thinking focuses on experimental music.

In 2023, his mixed-ensemble work Song on a Spring Evening was awarded the Classical Music Work of the Year by the Society ARTISJUS Hungarian Bureau for the Protection of Authors’ Rights. His piece for chamber ensemble, Ritual, composed for Bartók Radio’s 2017 ArTRIUM contemporary music festival, was a great success in the 2018 International Rostrum of Composers competition, which attracted candidates from 25 countries.

In 2018, he won first prize at the Anton Matasowsky International Composition Competition in Austria for his solo piano work Introverted Confessions, which became a compulsory piece at the 10th International Rosario Marciano Piano Competition.

In 2021, he founded the Danube Bend Contemporary Music Festival, which enriches the contemporary music scene in Budapest and its agglomeration with numerous concerts and masterclasses. He believes that composers should actively contribute to contemporary music not only by composing, but also by organising concerts and participating in performances.

In 2020, as a fellow of the Hungarian Academy of Arts, he began composing his first grand opera, based on Sándor Bródy’s play The Teacher, which the Hungarian State Opera House plans to premiere in December 2026. He is a founding member of the Hungarian contemporary music group STUDIO5.

Jānis Ozols

(Latvia)

Jānis Ozols obtained his musical education in Emīls Dārziņš Music School and Riga Cathedral Choir School. He acquired a bachelor’s degree in Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music with professor Sigvards Kļava and a master’s degree in choir conducting was supported by professor Jānis Zirnis.

Currently he takes an active role in the field of academic music in Latvia and abroad. He is also often working as jury member at international choir and singing competitions. Jānis Ozols has gained notable achievements and won many prizes in Latvia and abroad with mixed choirs Maska and Pa Saulei.

Jānis Ozols is the head conductor of Riga and Jurmala region choirs and since 2018 he is member of the board of the Latvian Song Festival Foundation and member of the Latvian National Centre for Culture Council in the sector of choirs.

While being the baritone singer of the vocal a cappella group Cosmos, Janis has worked along with world known musicians. They have attained several prestige prizes and awards through different contests and events including the Great Latvian Music Award in 2009.

His musical view and interpretation often differs from the usual. Being open to creative innovations and musical experiments is what highlights him among other conductors and helps in fulfilling his own ideas which are highly appreciated both by music professionals and lovers.

Bernie Sherlock

(Ireland)

Bernie Sherlock is a leading choral conductor. She has a degree in music from Trinity College Dublin, studied conducting in Hungary for two years, and has Masters and Doctorate degrees in conducting from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and the Royal Irish Academy of Music/DCU respectively.

She is founder-conductor of New Dublin Voices, Artistic Director of the Irish Youth Choirs, a former co-conductor of EuroChoir (2021), and a guest conductor with Chamber Choir Ireland. She has won international conducting prizes in Finland, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Slovenia, Wales and Ireland. Her work on the adjudication panels of international conducting and choral competitions and directing choral workshops takes her around Europe and to the US, Canada and China.

Under Bernie, New Dublin Voices has gained critical acclaim for its innovative concert programming and its work in television, radio and recording. The choir is a multiple winner of international first prizes and has premiered approximately 80 works.

Bernie has extensive experience directing a wide range of choirs, including the Culwick Choral Society and the Choral Society of Trinity College Dublin. For twelve years she directed and taught at the International Choral Conducting Summer School run by Sing Ireland.

Bernie is a founding Board-member of the World Choral Conducting Network, and a representative for Ireland on the World Choir Council. She is a Lecturer in Music at the TU Dublin Conservatoire where she is also director of the TU Chamber Choir.

Dr. Betsy Cook Weber

(United States)

Betsy Cook Weber began her career teaching K-12 vocal music for thirteen years in public schools. She is currently the Madison Endowed Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at the University of Houston Moores School of Music and is also active internationally as a conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer.

In 2013, she became the first woman to receive the Texas Choral Directors Association’s coveted Texas Choirmaster Award. Weber is currently Guest Conductor of the Grammy Award-winning Houston Chamber Choir and will become Artistic Director of this historic ensemble during the 2025-26 season.

Weber also served for eight seasons as Director of the Houston Symphony Chorus, preparing programs for some of the world’s leading orchestral conductors. She led the Chorus on successful tours of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany and was named Director Emeritus in 2022.

Weber routinely prepares singers for Houston’s early music orchestras, Ars Lyrica and Mercury Houston, and is also often called upon to prepare singers for touring shows, including Josh Groban, NBC’s Clash of the Choirs, Telemundo’s Latin Grammys, Star Wars in Concert, Andreas Bocelli, Eric Whitacre, and The Eagles.

Choirs under Weber’s direction, including the University of Houston Concert Chorale, have been featured at multiple state and national conferences. Internationally, Concert Chorale has won top prizes at prestigious competitions in Wales, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, and the Netherlands. They were delighted to be declared the winners of the 2018 Bela Bartók competition.