‘A wonderful place to make music’

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Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, March 11 to 16. Review by Marrion Wells.

When I walked along Hastings promenade in the sunshine and saw the cliffs and looked out over the sea I thought this is a wonderful place to make music.

Such was South Korean Tae-Hyung Kim’s off-the-cuff greeting after being declared the winner of the ninth Hastings Music Festival’s Piano Concerto Competition.

This three-week long event, organised by director Molly Townson, covered the arts from Gershwin to Grieg, street-dance to sonatas, and musicals to madrigals.

The White Rock Theatre was filled almost to capacity on March 16 for the highlight, the Piano Concerto Competitionfinal.

Almost 40 youthful pianists from Eastern Europe and the Far East as well as the UK each played an excerpt from their chosen concerto.

Seven on Thursday played again, with three going forward to the finale to play their concerto in full with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, under its director Brian Wright.

This was then judged by Chairman Frank Wibaut plus Olivier Gardon from France, and Bernhard Havemann-wambach and Klaus Hellwig from Germany.

The first soloist from Italy, was diminutive 16-year-old Michelle Candotti whose appearance belied her composure in a sparkling performance of Chopin’s Concerto No.1 in E minor.

Jean-Paul Gasperan, senior by a year, showed his virtuosity in Liszt’s Concerto No.1 in B flat.

However South Korean Tae-Hyung Kim, a decade older, had the experience to give Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto the authority this great work demands.

Tae-Hyung Kim was awarded the first prize of the concerto trophy, £4,000, a cash amount, and other items.

Michelle in second place and Jean-Paul third, also received awards, presented with great charm by the festival’s president Petula Clark CBE.

Guests included music-lover Mayor of Hastings Alan Roberts and the Mayors of Winchelsea Beach and Bexhill, Hastings MP Amber Rudd and former MP Michael Foster, Cllr Jeremy Birch and celebrated pianist/former adjudicator Dr Peter Katin. All were unanimous in their praise. And the thousand-plus present on Saturday evening? They would suredly agree with Tae-Hyung Kim. Hastings IS a wonderful place to make music.