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.

Why did you start conducting?

When I was 3 years old I watched TV on New Years Day with my parents and saw the New Years Day concert from Vienna, it was conducted that year by Zubin Mehta and I was fascinated by the guy that stands in front of the orchestra and seemed to control everything with very little or very great gestures. Sometimes I would put the CD on and stand in front of the mirror and conduct it. For the New Year’s concerts I would stand in front of of the television in a suit with a little baton I was given by our neighbour who was a professional violinist and conduct along!

Are you parents musicians?

My parents are not musicians, but supported me and asked at the music school what was needed to become a conductor. So I started to play the piano at the age of 6, and then became a member of the boys’ choir in Dresden. I was a member there for 10 years and that was amazing as I could learn the whole of the repertoire from renaissance to contemporary music. We sang all the big oratorios from Bach to Brahms, every year. That was just amazing. By singing those 10 years in the choir the wish grew, not to be a singer but to be a conductor.  I was working with singers from the boys’ choir, I was playing piano and accompanying them for competitions, and I really like this way of working with people and singers, but it was always clear that I wanted to work with an orchestra. I was told maybe I should learn an instrument, so I chose the clarinet the sound of which I love so much.

When did you first try conducting?

In my first year, in the third grade, the conductor knew I that I wanted to become a conductor. He had a meeting with someone important and left 15 or 20 minutes before the rehearsal should finish, he asked if someone wanted to carry on the rehearsal. I was stupid enough to put up my hand. I was there and had to rehearse with people who were a little bit older than me. I was standing before them, and that was the feeling of “let’s try, let’s do it.” Somehow I persuaded them to do what I want. I was studying our choir conductor a lot, I had an eye on him always and didn’t have my head in the score a lot. I was interested in how you conduct, what you do with the arms, what you can do with the hands for articulation, for dynamics, how do you do all this stuff.

When you’re conducting a concert, before you go on stage, how do you feel?

Thrilled in a very positive way. I try just to focus and go inside me and think all what will happen, so when I go on the rostrum it’s a very good feeling and I just dive into the music.

Afterwards do you go out drinking with the orchestra?

Sometimes, from time to time, but usually  I’m exhausted after a concert. So I just exchange words with people who come to see me after the concert, and sometimes I just go home or to the hotel. Sometimes I look at the score and think about what was not so great, what I could do better next time.