Piano competition ends with Russia taking crown

Alexander Panfilov receives a standing ovation from the audience after his performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3. Picture by John Cole

Alexander Panfilov receives a standing ovation from the audience after his performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3. Picture by John Cole

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This year’s Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition was won in fine style at the White Rock Theatre last Saturday (March 7) by Russian-born pianist Alexander Panfilov.

Playing with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the 25-year-old drew a huge response from the enthusiastic full house, with a performance of Rachmaninov’s

Not only did he win the first prize awarded by the distinguished international jury, Alexander also won the audience prize.

He said: “I still cannot fully believe that it has happened. I am especially delighted about winning the audience prize as well. It’s an absolutely incredible feeling being appreciated by the public as well as by the professional jury.”

The two other finalists, Garam Cho from South Korea playing Tchaikovsky’s

Professor Frank Wibaut, the artistic director of the competition and chairman of the jury, said: “It as a really fantastic evening. Alexander really came up to his full potential on the night and the audience were brilliant – they were so enthusiastic, warm and encouraging to all the contestants.”

It’s an absolutely incredible feeling being appreciated by the public as well as by the professional jury

Alexander Panfilov

It was the third time that Alexander has competed in the event.

He said: “It is great to see the competition growing and getting better and better every year. It is a brilliant opportunity both for performers and audience.

“For performers the best reward is to play with such a good orchestra while for the public it is a rare chance to hear a whole week of fascinating performances.”

Alexander received a first prize of £10,000 plus an additional £500 for the audience prize.

He also wins an opportunity to play Beethoven’s

The second prize winners each received £2,500.

The whole of the competition, which ran all week at the White Rock Theatre, was filmed by Oscar-nominated director Mike Figgis.

He posted short films of each stage of the event on a dedicated YouTube channel and now plans to produce a full-length documentary.

The finalists were chosen from more than 30 talented pianists from around the world who came to Hastings to perform live in front of the distinguished international jury at this year’s competition.

To see all the films and for further information go to the competition website at www.hastingsconcertocompetition.co.uk.