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 start?

I started composition quite early, I was 7 years old. I composed a lot without any lessons, I was so excited about it. I learned a lot from composition.

How old were you when you first tried conducting?

I was 7 years old and afterwards I practised a lot without taking any lessons I started to conduct properly at about 17 years old. I liked composition so I decided to audition for the conservatory in Paris.  It was a crazy thing to do, having no teacher but I just practised in the air and was so sure I wanted to do this that I put in a lot of energy and a lot of patience. The Paris Conservatoire thought I could be a problem, but they liked that I did what I wanted without any reserve and I passed the audition!

Can you describe the feeling of conducting?

Conducting is a fantastic feeling and once you’ve tried it, you can’t stop, it’s impossible.

What made you want to be a conductor ?

I want to be a conductor because as a percussionist I played in a lot of orchestras and always watched the conductor. I thought he did something very magical which was bigger than playing percussion (percussionists can’t play Mozart and Beethoven!)

Do you find it lonely being a conductor?

It's very strange because you are always alone as you prepare the score. There is no sound just the score reading and then in the first rehearsal you suddenly have a lot of musicians there and there is a lot to deal with. It’s so exciting but after the concert you go to the hotel and it's all finished. Sometimes it’s nice to go out with the orchestra but sometimes people in the orchestra want to talk to you about what you’re doing wrong and what to change and that can be a bit much. It can be difficult for me when I conduct friends in the orchestra…

Are you looking forward to the competition?

Yes! It’s my first competition and when I got the letter I couldn’t believe it when I read that I had been accepted. I thought maybe I had misunderstood the English… So I hope not to be too stressed but even if I don’t do well then… well London is a beautiful city!