Inaugural event takes place across 14-23 May 2018 in Leeds and London
Top-level recitals from distinguished past winners and alumni – Alessio Bax, Sunwook Kim and Lars Vogt – and Young Scholars of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation
Additional events in both cities strengthen The Leeds’s vision to make the piano accessible to all and build the Festival spirit
The Leeds International Piano Competition presents the first of what is to be an annual Leeds Piano Festival in May 2018.
The inaugural event, taking place across ten days in Leeds and London (14-23 May), brings together past winners and alumni including Alessio Bax (winner of the 2000 Competition), Sunwook Kim (winner of the 2006 Competition) and Lars Vogt (2nd prize in the 1990 Competition), who each perform recitals at both Leeds’s Howard Assembly Room and London’s Wigmore Hall.
These recitals contrast the core repertoire of Bach, Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven, on which The Leeds has always built its reputation, with works from eminent 20th-century composers such as Janáček, Schoenberg, Debussy and Dallapiccola.
The Festival forms an important part of the vision of The Leeds’s new artistic leadership, Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse, to expand its activities beyond the triennial competition and provide a much enriched programme of events for both pianists and audiences alike.
Three Young Scholars from the Lang Lang International Music Foundation – all teenagers from the United States, personally selected and mentored by Lang Lang – also perform a recital in both venues in Leeds and London as the first stage in a new partnership between the Foundation and The Leeds, who both share a passion for educating and inspiring the next generation of pianists and music lovers.
In addition to recitals from the exceptional pianists, the Leeds Piano Festival includes a number of events and activities which aim to bring The Leeds’s passion for the piano to wider audiences. A particular highlight promises to be ‘Discover the Piano: Piano Fantasia’: hundreds of local primary schoolchildren from all over Leeds are invited to Leeds Town Hall to explore and discover the piano in a family performance from creator and pianist Will Pickvance. They will also get to take part in various piano workshops and hear exceptional performances from the Lang Lang Scholars in a fun and accessible celebration of the piano.
The Lang Lang Scholars also participate in a public masterclass run by Alessio Bax at the Howard Assembly Room on 15 May, as well as Education and Learning programmes in both Leeds and London; the latter, in collaboration with Wigmore Hall’s Learning Programme, is a significant extension of The Leeds’s longstanding partnership with Wigmore Hall. This includes workshops and a visit to a primary school piano club, a visit to a dementia care setting in London, and a visit to the Rodillian Academy in Leeds, where every child plays a musical instrument. This focus on taking the piano out into the community not only embodies The Leeds’s vision of making the piano accessible to all, but also allows the Young Scholars to share their passion for the piano with a wide range of people outside the concert hall.
Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse, co-Artistic Directors of The Leeds International Piano Competition, said: “We are hugely looking forward to welcoming back Alessio Bax, Sunwook Kim and Lars Vogt to The Leeds as part of our inaugural Leeds Piano Festival, and are delighted that they have the opportunity to delight audiences once again in Leeds as well as London. The Festival not only celebrates the rejuvenation of the Competition and the incredible legacy that The Leeds has built over the last 55 years, but also demonstrates the Competition’s ethos to nurture young artists and to provide opportunities for professional development both on and off the stage. To this end we are tremendously excited to be welcoming the exceptional Young Scholars from the Lang Lang International Music Foundation to the Festival, and for them to share their passion and talent with us. This new Festival allows us to bring The Leeds’s vision of making the piano accessible to all to more people than ever on a local, national and international level.”
The Leeds recently announced the shortlist of 68 pianists for the First Rounds of the Competition, taking place internationally for the first time in the Competition’s 55-year history in Berlin, New York and Singapore in April 2018. The Second Round, Semi-Finals and Finals will run from 6-15 September in Leeds.