Niklas Benjamin Hoffmann was last night announced as the winner of the 14th Donatella Flick LSO conducting competition.
The 26-year-old German conductor received the award from the Duke of Kent following a public concert at the Barbican in which the competition’s three finalists conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in the overture to Verdi’s The Force of Destiny, five movements of Elgar’s Enigma Variations and one movement of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances.
Hoffmann wins £15,000 towards specialist study and becomes LSO assistant conductor for a year, during which time he will be given the opportunity to work with the LSO and its family of conductors in the preparation of concerts, attend numerous rehearsals, and may also conduct the ensemble in concert. He will also take part in events for LSO Discovery, the orchestra’s music education and community programme.
The announcement of the winner was made by Lennox Mackenzie, LSO sub-leader and chair of the competition’s jury, which also comprised conductors Sir Antonio Pappano, Carlo Rizzi, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Yuri Temirkanov, soprano Dame Felicity Lott, and LSO principal bassoon Rachel Gough. The other finalists were Vlad Vizireanu (Romania) and Kerem Hasan (UK).
Hoffmann began to take conducting lessons with Professor Florian Ludwig during an internship at Theater Hagen, which led to his first engagement as répétiteur for two opera projects for the company.
In 2011, he started studying orchestral conducting with Professor Nicolas Pasquet, Professor Gunter Kahlert, Markus Frank and Martin Hoff at the Franz Liszt University of Music, Weimar, and participated in masterclasses with Professors Jorma Panula and Clark Rundell.
He now works with Czech orchestras in Teplice and Hradec Kralové, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra, Staatskapelle Weimar and the Leipzig Middle German Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has been chief conductor of the academic orchestra in Göttingen since October 2015, and in April 2016 was awarded a Dirigentenforum scholarship (the German Music Council’s extensive support programme for young conductors).
Founded by Donatella Flick in 1990, the biennial competition aims to advance the careers of young conductors and help its winner to establish an international conducting career. The competition is open to candidates up to the age of 35 who are citizens of the European Union.