You only graduated in 2022, and already have a tremendous number of exciting projects under your belt. Tell us a bit about how the past year has been for you since you left the Academy.

I feel like I’ve learnt a lot this past year because I had such a quick shift from student to professional life. Coming out of an institution like the Academy, which provides so much care and stability, is a big psychological adjustment. I am very grateful for the classes I had during my training which helped me to prepare for the shift. Having said that, I have found the freedom since graduating incredibly fulfilling. I haven’t even had an apartment for the past year because I’ve been on the road so much!

I was really pleased to get a job in Paris as Principal Chief Assistant Conductor of Ensemble Intercontemporain shortly after graduating, which gave me a certain level of stability and structure. Winning the Dontatella Flick Conducting Competition is going to fundamentally change my life and has given me the opportunity to work with the London Symphony Orchestra which I am very much looking forward to.

It’s a perfect balance right now, as I am working with arguably the best orchestra in the world for contemporary music in Paris and now one of the best orchestras in the world for traditional and romantic repertoire in London.

'I’m very grateful for the trust that musicians place in me as their conductor...I do not take it for granted.'

What inspired you to pursue conducting?

What drew me most were the communication and interpersonal aspects of conducting. There is obviously a technical side to it in preparing a rehearsal and actually conducting an orchestra, but those secondary skills are also vital. It is a unifying job because you have so many different individual thoughts, wishes and interpretations to consider. The Academy nurtures every player as an individual, while recognising there must be a unified sound within an orchestra. That’s where my role as a conductor comes in and what I find particularly interesting. I don’t think there is another job in the music world quite like conducting, it has a practical and organisational aspect to it, so I feel like I have two jobs in one.

I’m very grateful for the trust that musicians place in me as their conductor. Musicians who come out of somewhere like the Academy are so well trained and talented. When they join an orchestra, they give up some of their own subjective thoughts and interpretations to create that unity and this trust in the conductor means a lot to me, I do not take it for granted.

Why did you choose to study in London?

I was intrigued to experience a different educational culture in the UK, compared to my studies in Germany and Holland. I thought it would be enlightening for my musicality to study in the UK. One of the important things about London is the number of agencies which shape our future as musicians, based in the city, and there is a very high concentration of excellent orchestras, like the BBC orchestras. These environmental factors were crucial to my choice.

One of the reasons I wanted to study at the Academy specifically was due to my admiration for the Head of Conducting Sian Edwards. She had an excellent guiding hand, while also giving me the freedom to develop my music myself.

'I think it’s important to recognise that there are so many different ways to have a career. You don’t have to win a competition to do well.'

Congratulations on your recent win in the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition. How do you approach competitions like that, and what does it mean to you when you achieve the success you have?

I think it is helpful to approach a competition as just another day in the office, to try to see it the same light as any other concert where you are going in to do your job. Going into a competition can be stressful, so your mindset is very important, and you must have absolute trust in your own capabilities.

In the run up to the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition I was very well prepared and focused, but I also made sure to relax by going on walks, seeing friends and playing the piano. One key point is that I was really enjoying it! If you go into a competition and feel like you have to change your character, then people subconsciously don’t really buy it.

I feel very humbled by the win and I’m conscious, as this journey starts, that people will be watching me and my career over the next couple of years. I’m also very grateful for the jumpstart this has given me, but I think it’s important to recognise that there are so many different ways to have a career. You don’t have to win a competition to do well.

What are your long-term career ambitions?

I was watching old Donatella Flick conducting competition winners, and they are doing incredibly well. Ultimately, I would like to become a chief conductor of an orchestra, hopefully in the near future. I want to play an active part in shaping music and the industry. For now, I’m delighted to have this opportunity with the LSO where I can continue to develop and learn. It takes years of hard work to take on a chief position in music, so I will try to stay focused and work hard and I’m certain more senior roles will open up to me.

'I don’t think there is another job in the music world quite like conducting.'

What advice would you give to someone graduating this year?

Be proactive and entrepreneurial. There are lot of other elements to the music industry, outside of the technical work of learning an instrument. How do you advertise? How do you do PR? How do you network and approach people? Obviously, you can learn all these skills, but it can take some time to develop them. My advice is to try as much as possible. It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes, especially early on, and the Academy is a safe place to make mistakes.

Photo copyright: Ovidiu Matiu