Adjudicating Panel

Volker Hempfling, Germany (Chair)

Volker Hempfling was born in the Saarland, Germany in 1944, and studied in Herford and Cologne (church music, organ, orchestral conducting, singing). From 1972 to 1997 he was organist, church music director and conductor of the Domkantorei Altenberg as weIl as director of the Sacred Music series in Altenberg Cathedral. In 1968 Volker founded the world famous Kölner Kantorei and in 1983 he became director of Cologne’s Gürzenich-Chor. In 1985 he became Professor of Choral Conducting at the Saarbücken University of Music. In 1993 he moved to the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf, where he was Professor of Choral Conducting, Director of the Protestant Church Music division and Conductor of the Chamber Choir until 2004. For 21 years he has led an annual seminar on choral conducting in Freiburg. Since 2003 Volker has been a lecturer of International Seminars for Choral Conducting in the Bavarian Music Academy following the International Chamber Choir Competitions of Marktoberdorf.

In addition to guest appearances conducting in Germany and numerous other countries, Volker gives conducting lectures and vocal training courses throughout the world. His work as a member of the adjudicating panels at national and international competitions have taken him to cities such as Marktoberdorf, Cork, Maribor, Tours, Tolosa, Budapest and Vilnius.

Urša Lah, Slovenia

Urša Lah studied Musical Education at the Ljubljana Music Academy and Choral Conducting at the University of Tromsø (Norway).

With Mixed Youth Choir Veter, APZ Tone Tomšič University of Ljubljana and the National Radio Chamber Choir, she has been involved in many première performances, and won many first prizes, golden plaques, special prizes and conducting awards at national and prestigious international choral competitions, including the Grand Prix of Europe (Debrecen, 2008).

In recognition of her valuable work with choirs, Urša received the highest award of the Municipality of Ljubljana for cultural achievement in 2008, and in 2009 the award of Public Fund of the Republic of Slovenia for Cultural Activities. Urša now lives in Norway, where she conducts the Finnmark Opera Choir, the choir of the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra and the chamber vocal ensemble of the Tromsø Music Conservatory. She teaches at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Tromsø, is a lecturer in educational seminars for choral conductors, a frequent member of adjudicating panels at international choral competitions, a guest conductor of recognised ensembles and one of two artistic leaders of the international Utopia & Reality Chamber Choir.

Zoltán Pad, Hungary

Zoltán Pad (1980) studied with Péter Erdei in Budapest and with Michael Gläser in Munich. As a choir master Zoltán has worked with prominent artists such as Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, Ennio Morricone, Iván Fischer, Martin Haselböck and Howard Arman, and orchestras such as the Hungarian Radio Orchestra, Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra, Oradea Philharmonic Orchestra and Alba Regia Symphony Orchestra.

Zoltán worked as Choir Leader at the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, before becoming Principal Conductor of Kodály Choir Debrecen (2009-2014). Since 2014 he has been the Principal Conductor of the Hungarian Radio Choir. Since 2005 Zoltán Pad has also taught choral conducting at the Liszt Academy’s Kodály Institute. Between 2009 and 2014 he was a member of the Artistic Board of the Béla Bartók International Choir Competition, and was Artistic Director of the Competition in 2013/14.

Zoltán is regularly invited to give music workshops and conducting master courses around the world, and he works frequently with youth choirs and amateur choirs. He has been a member of the adjudication panels of various international choir and conductor competitions.

Esther Jones, UK

Esther Jones is an experienced choral clinician and conductor who is in regular demand as an adjudicator, teacher and workshop leader. She studied music at Oxford University and choral conducting at the Royal Academy of Music as a postgraduate, where she was the first Open Academy Fellow and now teaches part-time. Alongside this role, she is currently Acting Artistic Director of London Youth Choir and Deputy Musical Director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. 

She is also a collaborator on the ‘Created out of mind’ project, which draws together scientists, artists and broadcasters at the Wellcome Collection in London to produce research and artwork related to dementia.

Other recent engagements include working as a tutor on BBC TV’s The Choir: Sing while you work with Gareth Malone, conducting Britten’s A children’s crusade at Aldeburgh International Festival, and chorus-mastering NYCGB singers for an award-winning performance of Britten’s War Requiem conducted by Marin Alsop in November 2014. 

David Brophy, Ireland

David Brophy was born in Dublin and is a graduate of the Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin. Following further studies in Ireland, England and Holland, he was appointed Apprentice Conductor with Chamber Choir Ireland and subsequently became the first appointee as Assistant Conductor with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. A former Principal Conductor of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, David now enjoys a close relationship with both RTÉ orchestras in addition to regular appearances as guest conductor with the Ulster Orchestra. His career has seen him conduct throughout Europe, Africa, Canada and China, in addition to engagements with some of the finest orchestras in the US, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

David has collaborated with many internationally acclaimed soloists, among them Tasmin Little, Barry Douglas, Lang Lang and Nicola Benedetti. He has broadcast on RTÉ, BBC, CBC (Canada), Sky Arts 2 and across the EBU, and has recorded for Silva Screen, LyricFM, Tara Records, V2 Records, New World Records and Compass Records recording labels.

Aside from his work as a musician, David presented the RTE1 award-winning TV series Instrumental and most recently fronted the IFTA award-winning High Hopes Choir for Tyrone Productions and RTE1 TV. He has most recently been appointed to the board of Ireland’s Contemporary Music Centre.