Pianists from near and far to compete in competition

Taek Gi Lee. Picture by John Cole
Taek Gi Lee. Picture by John Cole

The Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition returns to the White Rock Theatre at the end of next month for eight music-filled days.

As a curtain raiser for the main event, a new winter Prizewinners’ Recital will take place on the morning of Saturday, January 24 in the Recital Room at Fairlight Hall, the home of David and Sarah Kowitz, who are major sponsors of the competition.

The recital will feature talented young Polish pianist Marcin Koziak, a finalist and prizewinner from last year’s competition. He will be flying in from Poland to play pieces by Chopin, Schumann, Szymanowski, Prokofiev and Bartok. Tickets are £15.

The 2015 competition has a new and extended format which will be even more challenging for the competitors, as they will have to present two complete concertos from memory. As well as playing their own chosen concerto, all those who go through to the second stage will have to perform the whole of a compulsory Mozart or Beethoven concerto.

Professor Frank Wibaut, the chairman and artistic director of the competition, said: “This reflects the increasingly high standard of the competition. Having to present two complete concertos close to each other is quite hard, but it shouldn’t be a problem for really good players.”

Entries have been received from 30 different countries around the world, including China, Kazakhstan and Uruguay. In morning, afternoon and evening sessions over the first three days, the competitors will display their talent by playing excerpts from the concerto they have chosen from the competition’s list. Twelve of the 43 entrants will be chosen to go forward to the second stage on Wednesday, March 4 when they will lay the whole of a Mozart or Beethoven concerto.

Six will then proceed to the semi-finals on Thursday, March 5, each giving a 25-minute recital of music of their own choice. One of the highlights of the week takes place on Friday, March 6 at the Recital Room at Fairlight Hall. The three semi-finalists who do not go through to the final will be given a Masterclass by distinguished members of the international jury. Tickets are £20.

The competition will reach its climax on Saturday, March 7. The three finalists will play a complete concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. The winner of the final will receive a prize of £10,000 together with a chance to appear as a soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. They will also be offered other engagements throughout the year.

For information and tickets, visit www.HastingsConcertoCompetition.co.uk.