The Leeds International Piano Competition today [1 May 2018] announces details of the 24 pianists who have been selected to go through to the final rounds of the world-famous Competition in Leeds in September.
The shortlisted competitors, all aged between 20 and 29 years old, were chosen from among 68 outstanding young pianists from all over the world who took part in the first ever international First Round, held during April in Berlin, Singapore and New York.
‘The Leeds’, with its defining qualities of excellence and musical integrity, has long attracted some of the world’s most exciting young pianists. The 2018 Competition includes some striking innovations introduced by Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse since their appointment as Co-Artistic Directors after the last Competition in 2015. In addition to the new global First Round, developments include creating an unrivalled post-competition prize package, designed with a long-term career strategy in mind; a greater range of events, concerts and education work than ever before, including a new annual Leeds Piano Festival for London and Leeds which begins this month, and online live-streaming which will enable global audiences to watch all rounds. They have also forged a range of powerful new partnerships which, with the other enhancements, have invigorated the Competition and consolidated its position as among the most coveted prizes in the musical world.
Representing 16 nationalities, five of the 24 competitors are Chinese nationals, four are South Korean, two British and two Russian. One of the competitors is a dual national of Greece and Venezuela, while there is one each from Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and the USA.
The chosen 24 will gather in Leeds in September for the final rounds of the Competition. They are competing not just for generous cash prizes, worth over £90,000, but for a career-changing prize package which has redefined what a competition can offer young artists, and which has helped to attract young international pianists of the very highest calibre promising a thrilling Competition.
The portfolio prize includes artistic management with Askonas Holt, one of the world’s most renowned music management agencies; concerts and engagements with some of the world’s premiere venues and orchestras, including London’s Wigmore Hall and South Bank Centre, the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestras; concert and recording engagements with BBC Radio 3, broadcast partner of The Leeds; a major European tour organised with partners Steinway & Sons; a solo CD with a major label; a programme of recital engagements in Yorkshire and other UK venues; and mentoring from Co-Artistic Director Paul Lewis, Patron Murray Perahia and other members of the performer-led jury, chaired by Paul Lewis, which includes Sa Chen, Imogen Cooper, Adam Gatehouse, Henning Kraggerud, Thomas Larcher, Gillian Moore, Lars Vogt and Shai Wosner.
Building on an association which goes back to the Competition’s earliest days, the University of Leeds will provide accommodation to all 24 pianists from around the world for the duration of the Competition, as part of an enhanced partnership. This enables all the competitors to stay in one place for the first time, increasing opportunities for meaningful cultural exchange – something that is core to both the University and the new vision for the Competition. Competitors will also have access to the University’s world-class facilities, such as some of the the 27 new Steinway pianos in the School of Music, which recently joined such prestigious international institutions as New York’s Juilliard School when it became the first member of the UK’s Russell Group of universities to secure All-Steinway School status.
The University’s magnificent Great Hall will provide the backdrop for the Second Round and Semi-Final performances, while the beautifully-restored Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall will host numerous masterclasses and talks with competitors and competition alumni.
The Concerto Final performances take place at Leeds Town Hall with the Hallé, conducted by Edward Gardner for the first time, and an enhanced programme of activities during the Competition in Leeds – with masterclasses, lectures from major figures in classical music, exhibitions, and a new chamber music element in the semi-finals – aims to create a much enriched experience for both competitors and audiences.
BBC Radio 3 will cover the Semi Finals and broadcast the Finals live. BBC Four TV will cover the Finals, while all rounds will be streamed worldwide for the first time by medici.tv.
Adam Gatehouse, Co-Artistic Director and juror, commented: “Selecting just 24 out of the 68 outstanding pianists who played in our First Round across three continents was a very difficult task for the international jury, such was the quality of those who shared their extraordinary music-making with us. I am looking forward to bringing some hugely exceptional talents to the fore in the next rounds in Leeds in what promises to be a very exciting competition.”