Priory Meadow shopping centre was alive with the sound of music last weekend as more than 50 local musicians seized the opportunity to showcase their skills on a beautiful concert-standard grand piano.
They came in all shapes and sizes. The youngest was just three, the oldest in their 80s. And they played all kinds of music, from simple exercises for beginners through musical standards and pop songs to well-known classical pieces.
The elegant grand piano, which was kindly provided once again by Sussex Pianos, was in constant use in front of enthusiastic audiences from first thing Friday morning to close of play on Sunday.
The popular event was a curtain-raiser for the prestigious Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, which began in earnest at the White Rock Theatre on Thursday. Throughout the week, contestants had been arriving in Hastings from all around the globe.
Stage 1 of the competition, in which each of the 39 contestants are given 30 minutes to play excerpts from the concerto they have chosen from the competition’s list with the orchestral part being played by an accompanist, will continue until late Saturday afternoon.
Stage 2, in which the contestants who go through will have 35 minutes to play excerpts from the concerto they have selected from a different list with the orchestral part being played once again by an accompanist, will take place on Monday and Tuesday (February 27 and 28).
The Stage 3 semi-final will take place on Wednesday, March 1. Each semi-finalist has to play one piece from a composer on the Stage 3 list, while the rest of their 35 minute recital will be made up of music of their own choice, though the pieces they choose must come from different periods. On Thursday, March 2, the semi-finalists who do not go through will be invited to take part in a Masterclass with distinguished members of the international jury. The audience will sit on the stage of the White Rock Theatre with them, giving a real insight into the pressure of performing at this level.
The grand final will take place over two evenings on March 3 and 4.
The six finalists will play the whole of one of their chosen concertos with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the brilliant young British conductor Timothy Henty. Three finalists will perform each evening.
The winner will receive a cheque for £10,000 and the chance to play in concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as other concert engagements and the opportunity to perform a concerto in the United States. Total prize money this year will be £23,800.
All stages of the competition will take place at the White Rock Theatre and will be open to the public.
Tickets are available from the White Rock Theatre box office on 01424 462288 or www.whiterocktheatre.org.uk. For further information go to the HIPCC website.
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