Twenty of Europe’s most talented young conductors have been selected to compete in the 16th Donatella Flick Conducting Competition from 27 February – 1 March 2021 in London. Presented every two years, in partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra [LSO], the Competition was founded in 1990 by Donatella Flick and is marking its 30th anniversary.

26-year-old identical twin brothers Johannes [pictured] and Paul Marsovszky from Germany, have made the shortlist, competing with 18 other conductors from around Europe. Three contestants are from the UK, and 15 others will travel to London from Austria, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and Spain.

The top prize is a £15,000 cash award from Donatella Flick and a year’s tenure as Assistant Conductor at the LSO. In this role, they will have the opportunity to assist the Orchestra’s top-flight roster of conductors, led by Sir Simon Rattle as Music Director, with Gianandrea Noseda, François-Xavier Roth, himself a winner of the Competition in 2000, and Michael Tilson Thomas. They will have access to the LSO’s players and guest conductors, including Sir Antonio Pappano and Bernard Haitink. Besides precious rehearsal, performing, and technical experience, they will gain invaluable insight into the conductor’s role today, and they will be able to see first-hand the challenges faced by a busy 21st Century orchestra.

Donatella Flick, the Competition’s founder, said:

“Over the past 30 years, I have met young conductors brimming with talent and an enthusiasm for music, which I share. This year, the coronavirus pandemic has changed all of our lives. Musicians face a stark reality that sees many unable to perform, rehearse, or play together and all are facing an uncertain future. The challenges ahead are considerable, and all our lives will be lived in different ways. However, we will always find ways to make great music that will survive this crisis and play a crucial part in the healing process. I have been determined that my Competition goes ahead. We still hope to have a live audience in the Barbican Hall for the final, albeit perhaps reduced in size. We will again live-stream the Competition final so that everyone can be part of it and witness these talented young musicians with, I hope, the brightest of futures ahead of them. Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to those shortlisted. I wish you all the very best of luck.”

The Competition is open to conductors aged 30 or under from the European Union, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and the UK. Nearly 100 candidates submitted a video clip of themselves conducting. A selection panel assessed each video before choosing the best 20 to invite to London for the quarter-final.

Contestants will conduct the Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra in the quarter- and semi-finals on 27 and 28 February at LSO St Luke’s, leaving three finalists who will conduct the full London Symphony Orchestra at a public concert in the Barbican Hall on 1 March. The winner is crowned at the end of the final round.

Witnessing each round is a jury of musicians of the very highest calibre comprising leading conductors and members of the LSO. The jury decides which contestants make it through each round, and they choose the winner during the Competition’s final. The LSO also has a collective vote in the final round. For the 2021 Competition, the jury comprises the conductors Ivor BoltonSian Edwards, and Vassily Sinaisky, the composer and conductor Sir James MacMillan, soprano Danielle de Niese and Rachel Gough, LSO Principal Bassoon. The violinist Lennox Mackenzie, who retired from the LSO in 2018, returns to the Competition to chair the panel.

The 16th Donatella Flick Conducting Competition takes place at LSO St Luke’s and the Barbican Centre in London from 27 February – 1 March 2021.

On 1 March, three finalists perform Berlioz’s La Carnaval Romain, Brahms’ Variations on the St Anthony Chorale, and Ravel’s Daphnis & Chlöe Suite No 2, conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in the Barbican Hall.

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