Preparations under way for piano competition

Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition volunteers. Picture by John Cole
Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition volunteers. Picture by John Cole

Preparations are almost complete for this year’s annual Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, which starts at the White Rock Theatre next Saturday (February 28).

Over the next week 38 young musicians will be descending on Hastings from all over the world to play live in front of the distinguished international jury.

The competition runs until Saturday, March 7 when the grand final will be held.

Last Monday (February 9), special induction sessions were held at the White Rock for the army of volunteers who play a big role in making the event work smoothly. They will be responsible for ferrying the young pianists to practice pianos across the town, staffing the information desk at the theatre and making sure contestants are in the right place at the right time.

Stage One of the competition, in which the contestants will play excerpts from the concerto they have chosen from the competition list with the orchestral part played on a second piano, will start with morning, afternoon and evening sessions on February 28 and Sunday, March 1 and morning and afternoon sessions on Monday, March 2.

A dozen young pianists will then be chosen to go forward to Stage Two on Wednesday, March 4, when they will play the whole of a Mozart or Beethoven concerto, again with the orchestral part played on a second piano.

Tickets for Stages One and Two, which cost £5 per session or £12 for a whole day, will be available from the White Rock box office.

This year children under 16 accompanied by a paying adult will be given free entry. School groups will also be able to attend for free. To apply, email

The semi-final will take place on Thursday, March 5 from 5pm to 8.30pm. The six pianists who make it through will give a 25-minute recital of music of their own choice.

On Friday, March 6, in a break from the competition, the three semi-finalists who do not go through to the final will be given a Masterclass by members of the international jury in the Recital Room at Fairlight Hall.

Tickets can be obtained from or from Hastings Tourist Information Centre on 01424 451111.

The climax of the competition will take place on Saturday, March 7 at 5.50pm for 6pm, when the three finalists will play a complete concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Brian Wright.

The winner will receive a prize of £10,000 plus a wonderful opportunity to play Beethoven’s