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Eric Guo: the 16-year-old may be the youngest ever entrant in the competition.

Eric Guo: the 16-year-old may be the youngest ever entrant in the competition.

Six compete for piano crown

Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition is approaching its climax, with six contestants selected for the final on Friday and Saturday evenings at the White Rock Theatre. Nick Terdre reports, photos by John Cole.

The list of finalists can be seen as a triumph for the Commonwealth and for immigration. Four are from Commonwealth countries, all of them of Asian origin: Eric Guo from Canada, Alexander Yau from Australia, Sylvia Jiang from New Zealand and Yuanfan Yang from the UK (he was actually born in Scotland).

The other two are Fumiya Koido from Japan and Maxim Kinasov from Russia, who is hoping to emulate his compatriot Roman Kosyakov, last year’s winner.

The six finalists represent, in the judges’ eyes, the cream of the crop of 42 hopefuls who started Stage 1 last week, themselves drawn from a record 176 applicants aged 16 to 30 and hailing from 26 countries.

Eric Guo may be the youngest finalist ever, having celebrated his 16th birthday just days before the competition started. He played very sensitively in his first three pieces in the semi-final before absolutely smashing it with a dramatic piece of Liszt (Après une lecture de Dante, Fantasia quasi Sonata).

Yuanfan Yang, a composer as well as a pianist, is believed to be the first to play a piece of his own music – Waves – in his semi-final recital.

Sylvia Jiang: the only female still in contention.

Sylvia Jiang: the only female still in contention.

The boys have it this year – unusually only one of the finalists is female.

The semi-final on Wednesday was a tough day for both jury and audience, with no less than 13 contestants each playing three pieces. It was not until well after 9pm when the jury announced the results.

The seven eliminated at this stage, who were compensated with masterclasses with members of the international jury on Thursday, were Yuki Osaki, Toshiki Ishii, Alexey Sychev, Youngho Park, Kyle Orth, Peter Klimo and Aya Hirakawa.

In the final each contestant will perform a complete concerto, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The running order is:

Friday at 7pm

Eric Guo (F Chopin Piano Concerto No 1 in E minor Op.11)
Fumiya Koido (M Ravel Piano Concerto in G major)
Alexander Yau (S Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 3 in D minor Op.30)

Saturday at 6pm
Sylvia Jiang (S Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor Op.18)
Yuanfan Yang (S Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 3 in C major Op.26)
Maxim Kinasov (P Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1 in B flat minor Op.23)

The winner will receive a prize of £15,000 and the opportunity to play two concerts with the RPO, which this year signed an agreement to become the competition’s resident orchestra, as well as other engagements including a concert in the US.


Posted 09:56 Friday, Mar 1, 2019 In: Music & Sound

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