A record number of talented young pianists have entered this year’s Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the country.
Altogether 123 brilliant young musicians from 24 different countries applied to come to Hastings to play in the competition which runs at the White Rock Theatre from Thursday February 25 to Saturday March 5. That number is 50 per cent up on last year.
“This shows that Hastings has taken a big step forward in the piano competition world,” says Professor Frank Wibaut, the Artistic Director and Chairman of the Judges. “It is becoming an important event not only in this country but also around the world.”
For the first time, live auditions were held in four international centres: in the USA, in Japan, in Germany and in London. Those not doing a live audition submitted videos of their playing.
In all 50 contestants – aged 16-30 - were invited to travel to Hastings to perform and the organisers are confident that more young pianists will play live this year than ever before.
This reflects the ambitious new format adopted for the event. Twice as many pianists will go through to the later stages and the competition will culminate in a two evening final, when six contestants play with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.
The first stage runs from February 25-27 at the White Rock Theatre, when each contestant plays excerpts from their chosen concerto, and 24 contestants go forward to Stage 2 on Monday February 29 and Tuesday March 1. Each will play a movement of both a Beethoven and a Mozart concerto. Twelve then progress to the semi-final on Wednesday March 2, when they will play a programme of their own choice.
Each semi-finalist will play a new four minute piece which has been specially created for the competition by British composer Paul Patterson.
Six will be chosen to go through to the final, when they will play the whole of their chosen concerto from Stage One with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. These performances take place on the evenings of Friday March 4 and Saturday March 5.
The six semi-finalists who do not go through to the final will have the chance to take part in a masterclass with members of the enlarged International Jury. This is one of the highlights of the event because it gives insight into how pianists at this level can be helped to develop further. It will take place in the Recital Room at Fairlight Hall on Thursday March 3.
This year’s winner will receive a cheque for £10,000 and opportunity to perform as soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
As a taster, the joint-second prize winner from last year, Garam Cho from South Korea, will be giving a winter recital at Fairlight Hall on Saturday January 23 from 11.30am -1.30 pm. Her programme will include pieces by Brahms, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Lizst. Tickets are £15 and include a glass of mulled wine and mince pies.
All stages of the competition except for the masterclass will be open to the public - tickets are available from the White Rock Theatre on 01424 462288 or www.whiterocktheatre.org.uk, tickets for the Winter Recital and the masterclass from www.hastingsconcertocompetition.co.uk or from Hastings Tourist Information Centre on 01424 451111.