‘More entries than ever’ for international piano contest

Last year's winner, Kenny Broberg, in action. Photo by Richard Grebby.
Last year's winner, Kenny Broberg, in action. Photo by Richard Grebby.

More aspiring young pianists than ever before applied to take part in this year’s Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition – a clear sign the event is now a recognised player on the international competition circuit.

In all, 160 entries were received from contestants from 35 different countries all around the world, all of them hoping to be invited to play live in the competition, which will take place at the White Rock Theatre from February 22 until March 3.

Last year’s winner, Kenny Broberg from the United States, went on to win the Silver Medal at America’s most prestigious piano competition – the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition – which is held in Fort Worth Texas every four years. He lost out for the Gold Medal to Yekwon Sunwoo from South Korea, who came second in the Hastings competition in 2014. In all, five of the 30 pianists who were invited to appear in the Cliburn were former Hastings contestants.

This year, the six contestants who make it to the two-evening final will have the chance to play with one of the world’s greatest orchestras, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

To assess the record number of entries, live auditions were held in Japan, USA and Italy, as well as Manchester and London.

The competition’s artistic director, Professor Frank Wibaut, who carried out the auditions, said the standard was extraordinarily high.

“What’s striking this year is that we’re full of individual talent, with some very different types of pianist: a wide variety of extraordinary talent including pianistic expertise, showmanship, sensitivity and passion.”

At the end of this painstaking process, 44 contestants from all round the world have been invited to travel to Hastings to play live in front of the international jury at the White Rock.

Stage 1 of the competition will run from Thursday, February 22 to Saturday, February 24. Up to 24 contestants will then be chosen to go through to Stage 2, which will take place on Monday, February 26 and Tuesday, February 27. Up to 12 contestants will then go through to the Semi-Final on Wednesday, February 28. Six contestants will then go through to the two-day final, which will take place on the evenings of Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3.

Tickets are now on sale from the White Rock box office on 01424 462288 or at www.wwhiterocktheatre.org.uk. Visit www.hastingsconcerto
competition.co.uk for details.