Inaugural piano festival is prelude to international competition


The inaugural Leeds Piano Festival gets under way next week, as part of a programme of expanding activities organised by the Leeds International Piano Competition in the city and beyond.

Featuring concerts in both Leeds and London from Monday, until Wednesday 23 May, the festival will act as a prelude to the main competition, which will see 24 talented young pianists representing 16 nationalities descend on the University for the second round and semi-finals, from 6-15 September.

Unlike the triennial piano competition, the festival will take place every year.

The University has been closely involved with the competition since its inception in the early 1960s, and remains a principal partner today. Read more about the partnership here.

The concerts – at the Howard Assembly Room at Opera North, and London’s Wigmore Hall – feature distinguished past winners and alumni of the competition Lars Vogt, Alessio Bax and Sunwook Kim (pictured above).

There will also be appearances by the brilliant young scholars of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, with which the international competition, affectionately known as 'The Leeds' has formed a new strategic partnership.

Three of the scholars, all under 19 and hand-picked by the world famous Chinese pianist, will take part in an extensive programme of outreach.

The festival demonstrates the competition’s ethos to nurture young artists and to provide opportunities for professional development both on and off the stage.

Adam Gatehouse, Artistic Director

A particular highlight promises to be ‘Discover the Piano: Piano Fantasia’, with hundreds of primary schoolchildren from across Leeds coming to the 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 Festival forms an important part of the vision of the piano competition’s artistic leaders, Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse, to expand its activities beyond the triennial competition and provide an enriched programme of events for both pianists and audiences alike.

Adam Gatehouse, co-Artistic Director, 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.”