Grand piano to set up in Hastings shopping centre

Last year's event. Photo by Richard Grebby
Last year's event. Photo by Richard Grebby

People young and old are being called upon to show off their skills – no matter how great or small – on a beautiful concert-standard grand piano.

Whether you’re an aspiring Vladimir Horowitz, a would-be Jamie Cullum, an Elton John sound-alike or simply someone who can just about manage chopsticks with two fingers, you are invited to come to Priory Meadow shopping centre next month to showcase your talent.

Once again, as a precursor to the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition and the Hastings Music Festival, local pianists of all levels and all ages – in recent years players have ranged from just three years of age to pensioners well into their 70s – will be given the chance to play their heart out on a wonderful instrument generously provided by Sussex Pianos.

The popular event, known as Music in the Meadow, will take place over three days from Thursday, February 14 to Saturday, February 16, from 9am to 5.30pm.

The audience will hear music of all kinds, from pop songs to show tunes to classical sonatas.

Adults will be able to play for up to 20 minutes at a time, while children can play for as short a time as they wish. Anyone who wants to bring along a friend to play a duet will be more than welcome. Music teachers are also encouraged to bring along groups of their pupils.

Pianists can apply for a pre-booked slot by emailing pianoevent@hastingsconcertocompetition.co.uk or texting 07788 723003.

Alternatively, you can just turn up on the day and try your luck. You may have to wait a few minutes, but no one will be turned away.

This year’s Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, which will involve more than 40 of the finest young pianists from around the world, will start at the White Rock Theatre on Thursday, February 21 and run across 10 days until Saturday, March 2.

In the first round all contestants will play excerpts from the concerto they have chosen from a list of 15 put together by the competition’s Artistic Director.

The orchestral part for this and the next stage will be played by accompanists. Stage 1 will last from Thursday, February 21 to Saturday, February 24.

Up to 24 contestants will then go through to Stage 2, on February 25 and 26, when they will play 35 minutes from a concerto chosen from a separate list of 10. Both early stages will feature five sessions a day. Tickets are £5 per session or £15 for a whole day.

Children under 16 accompanied by a paying adult will be able to attend Stage 1 and 2 sessions for free. Schools can also send groups to these stages for free. They can book by emailing info@hipcc.org.uk.

A maximum of 12 contestants will then go through to the semi-finals on Wednesday, February 27, when they will play a short piece from a compulsory list of classical composers. The rest of their 35-minute recital will be music of their own choice, which will lead to tremendously varied programmes. Tickets for the whole day are £20.

The grand final will take place on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2, when the six finalists – three each night - will play the whole of one of their chosen concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted this year by Rory Macdonald. Tickets for the final will be £15, £20 or £27.50.

The winner will receive £15,000 and the chance to appear in concert twice with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – once at a regional event and once at the RPO’s London home, Cadogan Hall. They will also be invited to play a concert in the United States and a number of other concerts elsewhere.

All stages of the competition will take place at the White Rock Theatre and will be open to the public. Tickets are now on sale from the White Rock box office (01424 462288) or online from www.whiterocktheatre.org.uk. For further information please go to www.hastingsconcertocompetiion.co.uk.

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