The Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition, held every two years, was founded in 1990 by philanthropist Donatella Flick. Ahead of the three rounds which will crown the 2016 winner, between the 15th and 17th November, Bachtrack's insider Nicole Wilson meets the competitors who will have to prove their talent conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.

How did your musical journey begin?

When I was 6 years old I started learning the clarinet and played in the school orchestra. When I was a child most of my friends idolised sportsmen and popular singers; I idolised composers, orchestras and conductors. I was given the opportunity to start learning conducting from the age of 16 when I conducted an amateur orchestra.

How do you practise at home?

I practise in my head with the part. I work with a mirror and sometimes a camera. Videoing it is a good exercise but it’s hard watching yourself back!

Who’s your favourite composer?

I like French composers, Debussy, Ravel, Saint Saens. But also I love your Elgar.

Is there a particular conductor who inspired you?

I often watch and listen to Carlos Kleiber and Seiji Ozawa. I’m a fan.

If you could conduct any orchestra in the world apart from the LSO, which would it be?

I was in Berlin for two months and heard the Berlin Phil. It’s a marvellous orchestra. They did some concerts for kids, which I know they do in London too. I loved their sound, their energy. I saw a concert with Simon Rattle and I was surprised how emotional it was.

How do you prepare mentally before you go on stage?

I close my eyes, I love to be alone in the moments before a concert.

The life of a conductor is hard, with lots of travelling away from home. Do you enjoy coming home?

I love the moments with my family. I have one daughter who’s five and I’ll be soon a father again. My wife is due to give birth on the first day of the competition!

Does your daughter show any interest in music?

Yes she will start general music lessons this year but is not learning a specific instrument yet and I go with her to the lessons as I’m the director of the music school!