Festival starts with concerto

HASTINGS Musical Festival kicked off this week with pianists from all over the world exhibiting their skills at the White Rock Theatre.

The festival, in its 107th year, began with the 10th annual Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition.

Entrants performed in front of a panel of distinguished musicians, led by international pianist Professor Frank Wibaut.

Other judges included Dina Yoffe, prizewinner in the Warsaw Chopin Competition, Dame Fanny Waterman, co-founder and artistic director of the world-famous Leeds Piano Competition, Paul Roberts of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Siegfried Mauser, Rektor of the Munich Hochschule for Music and Drama, eminent British pianists Peter Katin and Jonathan Marten and Brian Wright, conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.

From a list of more than 40 piano concertos, varying from traditional (Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and their contemporaries) to modern (Prokofiev and Debussy) each performer played their recital to the adjudicators.

The Masterclass takes place at 6pm on today (Friday) at the Recital Room of Fairlight Hall, the home of David and Sarah Kowitz, whose Kowitz Family Foundation is the main sponsor of the competition.

Tickets, which include wine and canapés, cost £12, and can be booked by ringing 01424 430923.

Tomorrow (Saturday) from 6pm at the White Rock Theatre the three finalists will play their chosen concerto accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Brian Wright.

The winner will receive a £10,000 prize plus the chance to play as soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Tickets to tomorrow’s final of Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition are £20, £15 and £10.

The festival this week also featured two full days of Junior Singing in the Sussex Hall at the White Rock.

Thirteen-year-old Katie Wrenn received her trophy for Verse and Song in the 12 and under 16 years category from Ken Johnson, past general secretary of the festival. Katie also won the Bronze Medal for Singing, 12 and under 15 years, Unaccompanied Folk Song, 11 and under 14 years and Foreign Language Song, in the 12 and under 16 years category.

Molly Townson, chairman of Hastings Musical Festival, said: “The Medal classes are an exciting part in all sections throughout the festival.

This year’s Gold Medal Cash Prizes are donated by Hastings Round Table and it is because of the generosity of both individuals and groups like the Round Table we are able to offer these and other exciting events in the festival.”

Highlights in the coming week include tomorrow’s final of the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, Sunday’s Group Dancing Day which marks the start of six days of Dancing Classes, Monday’s Primary School Music Making Morning and Show Song Classes and next Tuesday’s Show Songs, and Speech and Singing from the First World War.