The cream of the crop to perform in piano competition final

James Sherlock, originally from Sussex. One of the competitors at Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition
James Sherlock, originally from Sussex. One of the competitors at Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition

The final of Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition which has brought young pianists from all over the world to Hastings, is to take place tomorrow evening.

The competition is a highlight of the Hastings Musical Festival, and the final will be attended by the festival president, renowned singer, actress and composer Petula Clark CBE.

The competition began on Monday of this week, with the first stage being completed on Wednesday, and the semi-finals on Thursday.

Three pianists have made it through to the final.

Finalists will play their chosen concerti in front of an international jury, for the first prize of £4,000, an engagement with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and prestigious recital engagements.

Those selected for the competition include eight Russian competitors, an Australian, an American, an Indonesian, four South Koreans, four Chinese, five Japanese and two Ukrainians, Daria Bitsiuk and Olga Paliy.

There has also been a strong European contingent with an Estonian, three Italians, 17 year old Paul Gasparian from France and last but not least two competitors from the United Kingdom, Alexander Ullman who is 21 and James Sherlock who is one of the oldest competitors at 29 years old.

Alexander is currently living in America to further his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and recently performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Cristian Macelaru.

James Sherlock is Sussex born and bred, having studied the piano with Kevin Smith in St Leonards before going on to study music at Cambridge University. He now studies with Pamela Lidiard at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and performs widely as a soloist, chamber musician and song accompanist.

Michelle Candotti was the youngest competitor at only 16 years of age. Born in Livorno (Italy) in 1996, she obtained the Diploma of piano with full marks to the “Dell’Abaco” Conservatory of Verona when she was 14 years old directed by Professor Laura Palmieri.

Another competitor He-Ren is only 18 and has already achieved great things.

Currently studying with Professor Matti Raekallio at the Juilliard School, she has already won several piano competitions.

In January 2007 at just 13, she won the Gold Prize, Yamaha Special Prize and Schlob Prize in the 8th International Chopin Piano Competition in Asia and in 2011 won the second prize of the 2nd Thailand International piano competition as the youngest contestant. In March 2012, she won the first prize of the Queens Symphony Orchestra Young Soloist Competition in New York and was featured as a soloist with the Queens Symphony Orchestra in the 2012-2013 season.

Tickets for the final are £15 with one under-16 admitted free with each paying adult. Visit www.whiterocktheatre.org.uk or call 01424 462288.