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Last year's winner, Kenneth Broberg, on his way to first prize.

Last year’s winner, Kenneth Broberg, on his way to first prize.

Piano competition hits new heights

One of the town’s premier music events, the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, gets under way shortly, showcasing possibly the highest standard of entrant ever. Nick Terdre sets the scene. All photos by HIPPC.

Don’t miss your opportunity to see the future stars of the classical keyboard at Hastings International Piano Concerto Competitions, one of the few international piano competitions which still takes place on an annual basis.

Awaiting the winner is a cheque for £15,000, the chance to perform as a soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the opportunity to play a concerto in the United States, as well as other concerts.

So there is a lot to play for, and it is a clear sign of the event’s status on the international competition circuit that more aspiring young pianists than ever before applied to take part.

Just selecting the entrants was itself a gruelling task. In all, 160 entries were received from contestants in 35 countries from around the world. To assess the record number of entries, live auditions were held in Japan, the United States and Italy, as well as Manchester and London. Contestants who could not make it to the live auditions were invited to submit videos.

Frank Wibaut, artistic director and jury chair.

Frank Wibaut, artistic director and jury chair.

Extraordinarily high standard

The competition’s artistic director, Professor Frank Wibaut, who carried out the auditions, says 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 were invited to travel to Hastings to play live in front of the international jury at the White Rock Theatre. More than half come from the Far East, half a dozen from the US, several from European countries and Russia, one from Peru but, disappointingly, none from the UK.

Led by Prof Wibaut, himself an international soloist and recording artist, the jury includes six other prestigious pianists: Akiko Ebi from Japan, Ewa Poblocka from Poland, Joaquin Soriano from Spain, and Brits Ronan O’Hara, Graham Scott and Ashley Wass.

First stage

The first stage takes place on Thursday-Saturday, 22-24  February, when  contestants will play excerpts from the concerto they have chosen from the competition’s list, with an accompanist playing the orchestral part. There will be five sessions each day.

The 2017 runner-up, Hans Suh, who returned in January to give the HIPCC winter recital.

The 2017 runner-up, Hans Suh, who returned in January to give the HIPCC winter recital.

Up to 24 contestants will then go through to stage 2, on Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th, when they will play excerpts from a second concerto they have chosen from a separate list.  Again there will be five sessions a day. Tickets for both stages are £4 per session or £15 for a whole day.

Once again this year children under 16 accompanied by a paying adult will be able to attend any of the stage one and two sessions for free. Schools have also been invited to send groups to the first two stages free of charge. To book, schools should apply here.

A maximum of 12 contestants will then go through to the semi-final on Wednesday 28 February. Each will play a 35-minute recital mainly of music of their own choice, which ensures tremendous variety, though they will all have to include one piece from a list of compulsory composers.

Tickets for the semi-final, which takes place over four sessions, cost £20 for the whole day.

Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, 3-8 March, 2014 Finals, 8 March 2014

Grand final and masterclass

So we approach the grand final, for which six will qualify. The six who don’t make it will instead take part in one of the highlights of the competition – a masterclass given by distinguished members of the international jury on Thursday 1 March.

Once again this year the masterclass will be given at the White Rock Theatre. And to create a truly intimate atmosphere, the audience will be seated on the stage with the participants – a chance to gain a real insight into the intricacies of playing the piano at this level. Tickets are £20 and include wine and canapés.

The grand final itself takes place over two evenings – Friday 2 and Saturday 3 March. The finalists – three each evening – will perform one of their chosen concertos in full with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under their guest conductor Jac van Steen, a rare chance to play with one of the great orchestras of the world.

All stages of the competition will take place at the White Rock Theatre and are open to the public. Tickets are available from the White Rock Theatre, on 01424 462288 or through the website.

Music in the Meadow

From last year's Music in the Meadow.

From last year’s Music in the Meadow.

As a prelude to the competition there will be Music in the Meadow once more, with local pianists of all ages and levels invited to play a grand piano in Priory Meadow Shopping Centre.

The grand piano will be available to all comers on Thursday-Saturday, 15-17 February. Adults may play for up to 20 minutes and children for as short a time as they like.

You can book your slot in advance by email or texting 07788 723003. Or you simply come along and try your luck. You may have to wait a few minutes but no one will be turned away.


Posted 13:38 Monday, Feb 12, 2018 In: Music & Sound

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