It’s 2 hours until the start of the final here and I have some interestingly mixed emotions. I’ve talked to some of the people who we didn’t pass to the next round, and it’s wonderful to hear their questions and understand how they played from their point of view. I’ve tried to tell them how they came over to me very honestly and mention some small things to them that might help on a future occasion.

It could be consistency of aesthetic beauty of sound from piano to forte dynamics, it could be about processing and performing new music very quickly and with great musical dedication, or about aspects of posture or stage manner. The reality is that but for small differences and a bit of improvement in one or two minor areas almost any of them could be taking part in the final, and yet it’s so hard to get them to believe that when they feel they have ‘failed’. They are all highly intelligent, stupendously talented young musicians, many of them already in first chairs in major orchestras so failure is tough when you get successful. Coming here is a high risk strategy in terms of commitment and high investment in terms of money.

Part of me says, on the other hand, that dealing with a perceived or even a real failure can sometimes teach you more than being successful, which just feels good! After all, we all need to be constantly reminded that the music and the composer come first and our first duty is to them, our ‘success’, is at best secondary. Painful it may be, but arguably salutary.

But for now I find myself feeling very nervous. It could be the memories of the competitions I did when I was younger, remembering the waves of nausea and simply wanting it to be over, or at least to hurry up and start so that some pent-up adrenaline can be discharged. However it’s also that at this high level making the right decisions rests on tiny things, and on the accessibility that someone gives to the audience onstage. It doesn’t have to be overt, just ouvert. Open.

I will report back results and other things later. Wishing everyone very good luck.

Don’t forget you can watch the final live this afternoon at 16:00 CEST (14:00 GMT) here and you can hear some audio clips of the competitors here:–1349136

You can follow me on Twitter at and find me on Facebook