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Fumiya Koido on his way to winning the HIPCC crown.

Fumiya Koido on his way to winning the HIPCC crown.

Piano crown goes to Koido as HIPCC broadens its horizons

Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition came to a glorious climax on Saturday at the White Rock Hotel, with Japanese contestant Fumiya Koido declared the winner. Plans for enhancing the competition, including a piano festival next year, were also announced. Nick Terdre reports, photos by John Cole.

It was a full house in the White Rock Theatre on Saturday night to hear the final three contestants take their tilt at the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition (HIPCC) title, with the backing of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Rory Macdonald. Host for the evening was Classic FM’s John Brunning.

There were explosive performances in particular from the UK’s Yuanfan Yang, who played Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 3 in C major, and Maxim Kinasov from Russia, who took on Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 in B flat minor.

All three performers – the other was Sylvia Jiang from New Zealand – received rapturous applause from the audience, a clear sign of their enthusiam for this flagship town event.

Hitting the high spots

The organisers were also clearly very pleased. “The 2019 Competition has been the most successful yet, with record numbers of competitors of an extremely high standard,” HIPCC’s chief executive Helen Winning told HOT.

“The two-night final with the RPO was a real highlight and all the finalists gave performances that were exceptional.”

The international jury awarded first prize to 23-year-old Fumiya Koido from Japan, one of the three Friday night performers, who played Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major. He received a cheque for £15,000 and will have the opportunity to play two concerts with the RPO, one at its Cadogan Hall home in London, as well as other engagements including a concert in the US.

Runner-up Maxim Kinasov.

Runner-up Maxim Kinasov.

Mr Kinasov took the £7,000 second prize as well as the orchestra’s £500 prize, while the third prize, worth £3,000, went to Eric Guo from Canada, who at just 16 is believed to be the youngest ever entrant. Fourth, fifth and sixth prizes were awarded respectively to Mr Yang, who also received a special prize of £1,000 as a British contestant reaching the final, Ms Jiang and Alexander Yau from Australia.

HIPCC, which has traditionally stood in the shadow of the Leeds International Piano Competition, is working hard to raise its profile. Box office records were broken and the event, which was covered by BBC South East TV, was made more accessible to local people by means of a big screen in the town centre live-streaming the semi-final stage.

Going biennial

The competition will now move onto a biennial basis, with the next event in 2021, but at the same time it will continue to ratchet up its act. “In February 2020 there will be a Festival of Piano including a piano concerto concert with the RPO, together with recitals, chamber music and piano themed events throughout the town,” Ms Winning said. Earlier this year the RPO signed a five-year partnership agreement with HIPCC.

She also announced a partnership with the United Nations Association in the UK, which “reflects the core principles of both our organisations by providing a fair and inclusive platform for the world’s most talented musicians.

“We hope this partnership will help raise awareness of the Competition wherever the UN is working worldwide and promote peaceful cooperation through music.”
From left, Alexander Yau, Sylvia Jiang, Fumiya Koido, Frank Wibaut, Lord Lieutenant Of East Sussex Peter Field, Eric Guo, Yuanfan Yang and Maxim Kinasov.

From left, Alexander Yau, Sylvia Jiang, Fumiya Koido, Frank Wibaut, Lord Lieutenant Of East Sussex Peter Field, Eric Guo, Yuanfan Yang and Maxim Kinasov.

Ms Winning praised the work of artistic director Frank Wibaut for pursuing high ambitions for the competition. “Frank is in no small part responsible for the competition being where it is today,” she told the audience. “It has a realistic chance of becoming one of the foremost competitions in the world.”

Praise from Wibaut

Mr Wibaut himself was full of praise for all 49 contestants who were invited to play in Hastings, describing it as an enormous achievement. Altogether 176 young pianists from 26 countries auditioned to take part, each with 30 minutes to display their skills.

Evaluating this talent is itself a massive task for the organisers, who provide opportunities for would-be participants to submit video recordings of their performances when unable to travel to one of the audition centres. These included China for the first time, Japan, the US, Italy and the UK. The ambition is to hold auditions in more countries, he said.

It was also an aim to secure more concerts for the prize winners, as well as recording opportunities. “Competitions don’t give you a career, but they put you in front of people who will help you,” he said.

“It’s a tough world for classical musicians – young people need to be entrepreneurial.”

He also thanked all those who help the competition run smoothly, not least the sponsors Sarah and David Kowitz, piano supplier Yamaha and piano tuner Andrew Harrison, as well as the many volunteers and hosts who accommodate the contestants and provide practice opportunities.


Posted 21:36 Monday, Mar 4, 2019 In: Music & Sound

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