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Shunta Morimoto, winnder of the 2022 Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition (photo: Peter Mould).

Internationally renowned piano competition returns to Hastings in 2024

The 17th Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition will take place from 22 Feb – 2 March 2024 at the White Rock Theatre. 40 extraordinary young concert pianists from 18 countries will compete for the Sophia Guo First Prize, an award that includes the Hastings Fellowship – an invaluable artist development package provided by one of the UK’s leading artists’ agents – professional engagements and a substantial cash prize, as well as the Molly Townson cup. There are also cash prizes for the other finalists. Nicky Webb writes.

Almost 250 young concert pianists from 37 countries from as far afield as China and Tajikistan submitted video auditions, and the 40 competitors were chosen by the pre-selection Jury chaired by Artistic Director, Professor Vanessa Latarche, to travel to East Sussex next year. Competitors must be aged between 16 and 30 at the time of the competition.

The Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition has become one of the world’s pre-eminent international piano competitions and is unusual in that it offers competitors the opportunity to play concerto movements (accompanied by another pianist) from the very first rounds rather than only at a later stage in the competition.  Competitors enter the competition prepared to play two contrasting concertos and a solo recital programme devised by the competitor. Recital programmes must include a new piece by the Austrian – American composer Lera Auerbach, specially commissioned for the competition.

For the first time, the Southbank Sinfonia – a chamber orchestra that is formed anew each year by recruiting 33 promising music graduates – will accompany the 10 semi-finalists in the classical concertos they choose, and the full forces of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will play once again for the five finalists. Both rounds will be conducted by Rory MacDonald.

Japanese pianist, Shunta Morimoto, who won first prize in the last competition in 2022, will return to give a short performance as part of the second final on 2 March 2024, while the Jury are reaching their final decisions. All rounds are open to the public – details of ticket sales can be found below. The event will be streamed online, allowing a worldwide audience to experience the event, even if they cannot travel to Hastings. The competition is generously supported by Steinway & Sons and numerous sponsors and benefactors, including Arts Council England through its Lottery programme.

Vanessa Latarche, Artistic Director of Hastings International Piano, and President of the Jury, said: “Music competitions can help to launch careers, and not only for the winners. I am thrilled with the standard of entries we have received for the 17th Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, and I want to thank Diana Ketler and Aaron Shorr who joined me in the difficult task of choosing the 40 competitors we’ve invited to Hastings from among the 241 who applied.

“I’m delighted with the distinguished international jury we have been able to assemble in the shape of Fran Cruz Plaza, Pascal Escande, Paul Hughes, Norman Krieger, Piotr Paleczny and Eleanor Wong, and I know that they will take as seriously as I do the task of judging the competition. I’m very much looking forward to bringing the world to Hastings next year.”

Sarah Kowitz, Chair of the Trustees of Hastings International Piano, said:
“Putting on an international piano competition is not an easy task, and I want to thank all those who help to make it happen. This year, for the first time we have received extremely generous support from a range of other philanthropists, sponsors and partners, without whom the competition would not be possible. I would also like to thank our wonderful team of volunteers, piano hosts and host families, who are one of the major reasons why competitors view the Hastings as one of the friendliest competitions anywhere in the world. I can’t wait for 22 February!”

Tickets for all rounds are available from this week. Details on the website.

Visit our website:
Facebook: @hastingsconcertocompetition
Instagram: @hastingspianoconcerto

The competition

Hastings International Piano is the independent charity that promotes the biennial Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, but its roots go back more than a century to the Hastings Musical Festival which has been taking place in Hastings since 1908. The Concerto Competition was revived in 2005 and has evolved into an internationally-renowned competition for young concert pianists from around the world. In recent years its reputation has grown steadily and it is now considered to be one of the top piano competitions in the world, and one of the only ones that asks competitors to play complete concertos from the first round. It now enjoys partnerships with both the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Southbank Sinfonia.


First Prize:

The Sophia Guo Award – a £15,000 cash prize
The Hastings Fellowship – an artist development and professional coaching package provided by Lydia Connolly from one of the UK’s leading agencies, Harrison Parrott, and Trudy Wright.
Professional engagements including concerts in Hastings and London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as engagements in the UK and Europe.

Other prizes:

There will be prizes for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th positions, as well as the Pascal Escande award, an orchestra prize and a concert live-streamed from Perivale in London. See website for details.

The competition will take place at the White Rock Theatre, Hastings, as follows:

Round One – 22-24 February

Extracts from two concertos accompanied by another pianist. All 40 competitors.

Round Two – 25 & 26 February

30 – 35 minute solo recital programmed by the competitor, including the new commission. 20 competitors.

Semi-Finals – 28 & 29 February

A complete concerto from list A (classical repertoire) accompanied by the Southbank Sinfonia. 10 semi-finalists

Finals – 1 & 2 March
A complete concerto from list B (romantic and 20th century repertoire) accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. 5 finalists.

2024 JURY
Fran Cruz Plaza – Spain
Pascal Escande – France
Paul Hughes – UK
Norman Krieger – USA
Professor Vanessa Latarche – Jury President
Piotr Paleczny – Poland
Eleanor Wong – Hong Kong

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Posted 12:51 Sunday, Feb 4, 2024 In: Music & Sound

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