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Nicolò Foron (Photo credit: Mark Allan)

Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition Announces 2023 Winner

Italian-German conductor Nicolò Foron won £15,000 and a one-year position as assistant conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra


Founded in 1990, the biennial Donatella Flick Conducting Competition has since supported emerging conductors to establish international careers with highly sought opportunities and accolades. 

Nicolò Foron, 25, was named winner of the competition’s 17th edition, following three days of performances from March 21–23, 2023, held at London’s LSO St Luke’s church. 

Alongside his cash prize of £15,000, Foron will work with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) for up to one year as an assistant conductor. In this role, he will collaborate with LSO’s principal and guest conductors, participate in LSO’s outreach programs, accompany tours, plus receive the chance to conduct the orchestra in concert.

“Thank you so much to the jury, to Donatella Flick and to the magnificent players of the London Symphony Orchestra,” Foron said. “It has been such a great week. I’m ecstatic.”

Also a pianist and composer, Foron is principal assistant conductor of Ensemble Intercontemporain, winner of the International Conducting Competition Jeunesse Musicales Bucharest, 2022 member of Peter Eötvös' Mentoring Program, and conducting fellow at Tanglewood Festival.

After assisting Lorin Maazel at age 15, he studied conducting at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, London’s Royal College of Music, and the Royal Academy of Music. His other mentors included Bernard Haitink and Riccardo Muti.

This season, he will debut with the Orchestre National de Montpellier, Staatskapelle Weimar, and Gewandhaus Orchestra Mendelssohn Academy. Additional engagements have included the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen, Residentie Orchestra, Sinfonia Rotterdam, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, and the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra.

Alongside Foron, the other two finalists of the Competition were Jiří Habart and Jakub Przybycień. All three conducted the LSO in works by Wagner, Grieg, and Berlioz. Foron was announced winner by competition founder Donatella Flick with David Alberman and HRH the Duke of Kent.

Chaired by David Alberman, the jury comprised Sally Beamish, Martyn Brabbins, Sian Edwards, Juliana Koch, and Sir Antonio Pappano. As part of the judging panel, the LSO also had a collective vote.

“We have witnessed some tremendous music-making this week with 20 exceptional conductors from all over Europe inspiring us to feel that the future of music is in great hands,” said Alberman, who is also LSO’s principal second violin and chair. “We offer our huge congratulations and thanks to each of them.

“However in the end the jury came to the clear decision that of all the competitors, it was Nicolò’s outstanding combination of charisma, energy, technique and musicianship which demonstrated the greatest potential for an exciting future career,” he added. “We look forward to many more performances conducted by him!”'

This year, the Competition received 80 applications, 20 of which were shortlisted for the first round, 10 for the second round, and three for the Final. It is open to conductors aged 30 and under who are citizens of the UK; countries with full membership of the European Union; and Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, or Switzerland.

Past winners of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition include Elim Chan (who was the first woman to win the event), François-Xavier Roth, Clemens Schuldt, and Julio García Vico, among others. 

Established in 1904, the LSO has given 70 symphonic concerts each year at the Barbican Centre, where it is the only resident orchestra since the venue’s opening in 1982. Its conductors include Roth, Sir Simon Rattle, Gianandrea Noseda, and Michael Tilson Thomas as conductor laureate. Pappano will become LSO’s chief conductor as of September 2024.

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