From: Brenda Anson, Stream Lane, Sedlescombe
When are the people of Hastings going to wake up to the minor miracle that is the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition?
This is a competition that is really starting to be noticed around the world and drawing an audience from further and further afield.
Four years ago there were 22 entrants, this year there was 150. They came from 29 countries including America, Russia, Norway, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, South Korean and China but sadly this year, no entrants from the UK made it to the competition’s heats.
In many countries classical music is seen as something fine and inspirational to be proudly promoted by the country’s leaders. Sadly here many of our politicians, nationally and also I suspect locally, shy away from being seen to be associated with something deemed to be ‘elitist’ so it was particularly heartening to see Amber Rudd, the Hasting’s MP and Home Secretary, at the final.
The lack of support for classical music was thought “extraordinary puzzling” by one of the international judges who I had the opportunity to talk to, he too lamented the lack of UK competitors and couldn’t understand how music could divide ‘classes’.
“It should bring people together,” he said, “whoever they were, whatever they did, it’s just music.”
I wonder how many people in Hastings were aware of the competition and, if they were, how many dismissed it as some highbrow event that was somehow out of their league. They missed so much.
This weekend The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra returned to the White Rock Theatre after a break of over 30 years and I have it on good authority that they were really surprised at the exceptionally high standard of the competition and that they also really appreciated the warmth and enthusiasm of the Hastings audience.
There weren’t that many empty seats for Friday’s first final night and barely any for the Saturday ‘final’ final night but there were far too many for the heats and semi-final where some of the tickets were only £5. Such a shame, so much wonderful music and astonishing virtuosity missed by so many. So wake up Hastings, and everyone else out there, something very special is flowering here.
The council, and everyone else, should be proudly embracing, supporting, promoting and above all enjoying a spectacular event that is happening right here, not in Brighton, Eastbourne or Tunbridge Wells, but on our own patch.
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