Katharina Wincor (23) is from Austria and has been studying Orchestral Conducting in Vienna and Zurich. After winning the Neeme Järvi Prize at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival Conducting Academy 2017, Katharina was invited to Riccardo Muti's Italian Opera Academy before attending Marin Alsop's masterclass in London earlier this year.
Where are you at the moment and what are you currently working on?
Right now I am in Meiningen in a masterclass. We're working on repertoire by Mozart and Schubert and I try to take every opportunity in front of an orchestra also a bit as a preparation for the competition.
When did you first become interested in conducting?
In my senior high school it was very common that students would conduct the school orchestra in certain projects, so my interest developed at that time. But the first time that I actually conducted a group of people was when I was 17 years old. I founded a chamber choir for that and we still do projects several times a year.
Who are your musical role models?
The most impressive people were always those that I experienced in real life. For a certain time Harnoncourt definitely had a big impact.
How did you find out about the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition?
I always somehow knew about it…probably the first time I read the name of the competition was when Clemens Schuldt conducted a youth orchestra that I played in. He had won the competition shortly before.
How have you been preparing for the competition?
Mainly I just spend a lot of time with the scores. But also I try to take care of my health, sleep enough, eat nice food etc. I definitely don't want the preparation to kill me because then I will for sure not be good in the right moment.
What are your thoughts on the repertoire? Which piece(s) are you particularly looking forward to conducting and why?
The choice of the repertoire is amazing! It's a really good mix of different styles. That way the studying process always stays interesting and fun. There is no piece that I generally prefer, but if I would choose very spontaneously which piece I would like to conduct in the moment, I would pick Kodaly.
What is the piece that made you fall in love with music, either while performing it as a musician or experiencing it as an audience member?
I didn't have a monumental experience as a child that changed my life. But I do remember that the first time I worked on Monteverdi was very impressive. Also when I came across Gesualdo for the very first time I was quite shocked. I must have been around 16 or 17 then.
What is your all-time favourite piece of music?
My favourite piece is different every day. A short time ago it was Bach's double concerto for Oboe and Violin. Before that Brahms' Requiem. Right now I don't really think about any other music than the repertoire for the competition, unfortunately.
How do you relax? What are your hobbies?
With a lot of coffee! I don't have a permanent hobby, but I am extremely looking forward to spending most of December in the kitchen making Christmas cookies. Also I would like to do some sport again (swimming, jogging).
If there is anything you could change about classical music, what would it be?
I wish for music students to explore also different music from orchestral excerpts. Old music, contemporary music, jazz, pop, etc. We miss it a little in our education because we are so focused on winning an audition as soon as possible. But I think those other styles of music would broaden our horizon.
What advice would you give other budding conductors?
There is not much advice that I can give, but for me, a bit of self irony always helps. When I start taking myself to seriously, the music loses something.
What would the prize mean to you? How would it help your career?
It would, of course, be a huge step in my carreer! The assistantship would be incredibly interesting because I would be for a quite long time surrounded by musicians of extremely high level. From this I think, I could profit very much.