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Jurjen Hempel studied conducting with David Porcelijn and Kenneth Montgomery at the Utrecht Conservatory. Already during his studies he was invited to assist Edo de Waart, Hans Vonk and David Robertson. On invitation of Seiji Ozawa, he studied at the Tanglewood Conducting Class where he worked with Bernard Haitink and Lorin Maazel.
An important recognition of his already distinguished career at that time was when he was finalist and prize-winner at the first Sibelius Conductors Competition in May 1996 in Helsinki. Immediately invitations came from the various Finnish orchestras, followed by re-invitations in the past seasons.