Leeds International Piano Competition launches annual festival

The Leeds International Piano Competition will present the first of what is to be an annual Leeds Piano Festival in May 2018.

The inaugural festival, taking place across ten days in Leeds and London (14-23 May 2018), 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). All three will give recitals at Leeds’ Howard Assembly Room and London’s Wigmore Hall, contrasting the core repertoire of Bach, Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven on which The Leeds has built its reputation with works from eminent 20th century composers such as Janáček, Schoenberg, Debussy and Dallapiccola.

Lars Vogt © Gioriga Bertazzi
Lars Vogt © Gioriga Bertazzi

Three Young Scholars from the Lang Lang International Music Foundation – all teenagers from the United States personally selected and mentored by Lang Lang –  will also give recitals in both venues in Leeds and London as the first stage in a new partnership between the Foundation and The Leeds.

In addition, the Young Scholars will participate in a public masterclass run by Alessio Bax at the Howard Assembly Room on 15 May 2018 as well as Education and Learning programmes in both Leeds and London. The latter, in collaboration with Wigmore Hall’s Learning Programme, is an extension of The Leeds’ longstanding partnership with Wigmore Hall and includes workshops, 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’ 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.

Alessio Bax © Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
Alessio Bax © Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Other events and activities which aim to bring The Leeds’ passion for the piano to wider audiences include Discover the Piano: Piano Fantasia, during which hundreds of Primary schoolchildren from across Leeds will explore and discover the piano in a family performance at Leeds Town Hall by creator and pianist, Will Pickvance. They will also take part in piano workshops and hear performances by the Young Scholars.

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’ vision of making the piano accessible to all to more people than ever on a local, national and international level.’

Header photo: Sunwook Kim © Marco Borggreve

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