The day has arrived… the moment of truth when the final three conductors left standing after two grueling days of competition at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama finally face the London Symphony Orchestra in a battle to win the coveted title of Assistant Conductor of the LSO and a £15,000 bursary.

Our three heroes battling it out on the Barbican stage today are Niklas Benjamin Hoffmann from Germany, Kerem Hasan from the UK and Vlad Vizireanu from Romania. They each have an hour and 40 minutes of rehearsal time with the LSO during the day, followed by the public final at 7pm in the presence of HRH the Duke of Kent and the illustrious jury.

Also voting will be the Orchestra members themselves, which is incredibly important to the three finalists as they are the ones the winner will get to work with for the next two years – let’s hope they like them!

What will the biggest challenge today be? A professional outfit such as the LSO could easily play entirely without a conductor, and our contestants today need to convince the band to come with them rather than play on autopilot. A sensitive mixture of persuasion but also authority would be the perfect combination. A conductor must convey that sense of authority however young they may be, but if they take it too far they will irritate the orchestra and once they’ve done that, they’ve lost them. An orchestra can be stubborn when provoked. History is littered with examples of conductors whose relationship with the orchestra has completely crumbled, even resulting in fisticuffs on occasions. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen tonight…

The Jury will be watching closely today to see how the contestants manage to drive this Ferrari of an orchestra – finely tuning it, being in control but also letting the musicians play freely and expressively – not getting in the way of the music. As Daniel Harding once said “it has got to be better with you than without”.

All the finalists will conduct the overture to the Force of Destiny by Verdi, then they will conduct four variations each of Elgar’s ‘Enigma’ Variations, and one movement of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances. Vlad will kick off proceedings conducting first followed by Kerem, and Niklas will end the evening before the Jury retires to deliberate.

It has been incredible to watch the journeys of these young conductors over the last three days. Their determination, stamina and sheer love of music has borne them through a tough ordeal. To have got this far is a clear indication that they have talent, which, if nurtured properly, will ensure a life long career for them in this highly competitive field. But the winner will be propelled into the fast lane learning to conduct one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Good luck to them all.