The news is that Elim Chan has been awarded first prize in the 2014 Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition.
At the start of the day I really couldn’t have told you which way the result would go – who would second guess a competition jury when the candidates all had grounds for optimism? Of course, that’s exactly what I tried yesterday when it came to predicting which three conductors would progress from round two. But perhaps it’s significant that the one person over whom the jury and I were in agreement turned out to be the eventual winner. That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway!
But looking back over my notes from the three days, it’s clear to me that at every stage she proved herself and at every stage she showed something different about herself. And while it’s always hard to assess these things from outside (not least because an orchestra is lots of individuals as well as a unit), it seemed to me that the LSO tonight responded well to her. Whatever that’s supposed to mean. (Actually I do have some examples, but I’m not telling.)
As for the other finalists, it was only reading the programme before the concert that I twigged that Mihhail Gerts is that little bit older at 30 and Jiri Rozen younger at 23. And that made sense: Gerts looked like someone with more experience. He seemed to know what to say, he seemed comfortable on that little square of podium, he seems to have found his way of working. Rozen, though completely convincing in his movement, maybe needs to spend a little more time (talking) with musicians to work out how to get more from them.
But really, this is ridiculous advice. Or it’s ridiculous that I’m giving it. Much better I recommend you tune in if you can, to Classic FM radio (UK) on Friday 12 December at 8pm GMT when you can hear the concert broadcast, and see what you think. Just try not to be swayed too much by the audience applause after the second movement of Scheherazade, a suitably spontaneous and heartfelt recognition of Chan’s talent.