Dame Fanny Waterman to step down from Leeds Competition

16 December 2014
imports_PIA_screen-shot-2014-12-16-at-10.23.38-35823_15754.png Dame Fanny Waterman to step down from Leeds Competition
Dame Fanny Waterman has today announced that she will retire from her role as Chairman & Artistic Director of the Leeds International Piano Competition after the next competition in 2015 ...
Dame Fanny Waterman has today announced that she will retire from her role as Chairman & Artistic Director of the Leeds International Piano Competition after the next competition in 2015. ). The exact date of her retirement will depend on the appointment of her successor.

Dame Fanny Waterman’s decision comes as she approaches her 95th birthday in March 2015.
With her late husband, Dr. Geoffrey de Keyser and with Marion Thorpe CBE, then the Countess of Harewood, and with the support of Jack and Roslyn Lyons, Dame Fanny Waterman founded the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1961. The first event followed in 1963. The 18th instalment of the triennial Competition takes place between 26 August and 13 September 2015 in Leeds.
Under Dame Fanny Waterman’s leadership, ‘the Leeds’ has long been regarded as the most coveted prize in the piano world and internationally acclaimed for introducing some of the greatest pianists of our time. Artists including Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia, and Sunwook Kim launched their careers by taking first prize at ‘the Leeds’; Sir András Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida and Lars Vogt, meanwhile, are among the Competition’s illustrious finalists.
Dame Fanny Waterman commented:
I look back with pride at the international eminence the Competition has achieved over the past half century. The 'cottage industry' we dreamed up in 1961 has become, as Denis Healey, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, said ‘one of the musical wonders of the world’.
'The Leeds' has achieved its renowned status and reputation through its musical integrity, and I am very grateful to the excellent competitors, juries, conductors, orchestras, friends, benefactors and volunteers whose quality is everything. Our Competition has introduced to the world some of the greatest pianists of our time and they carry our banner throughout the world, wherever they perform.
I feel ready now, after the 2015 Competition, to hand over the reins, confident that it will continue to thrive and grow, offering a platform of opportunities for young pianists, music lovers and audiences long into the future.”
Dame Fanny Waterman occupies a pre-eminent position in the piano teaching world. Born in Leeds (22 March, 1920), she studied with Tobias Matthay, and later as a Scholar at the Royal College of Music, London, with Cyril Smith. After a notable performing career, including a performance at the 1942 Proms with Sir Henry Wood, she felt that her real vocation would be as a teacher. Over the years she has given masterclasses on six continents, appeared on television and radio, and with Marion Harewood (Marion Thorpe) has compiled a series of publications entitled Piano Lessons with Fanny Waterman/Marion Harewood, which now runs to thirty volumes and has achieved sales of two million copies. In recognition of her services to music, Fanny Waterman was awarded an OBE in 1971, the CBE in 1999 and in 2005 she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
In 2004 Dame Fanny Waterman received the Freedom of the City of Leeds, the highest honour the City can bestow and, in 2009, was invited to become President of the esteemed Harrogate International Festivals. She was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2010.
Dame Janet Baker CH DBE, Patron of the Leeds International Piano Competition writes: “It has been a privilege to watch this courageous, indomitable lady hold on to the values on which she built this competition. They are the reason it is held in such respect, and why she has been able to count on the financial support of its benefactors for so many years. She has helped young musicians fulfil their promise, something dear to her heart and has guided ‘The Leeds’ to its present international reputation because of her integrity, her passion, her personal charisma and infinite capacity for hard work.”
Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England writes: “Fanny Waterman has made an exceptional contribution to the musical life of this country.  Her support for both British and International talent has been remarkable and in addition has also helped to define Leeds as one of the global centres of pianistic excellence. This can be measured by the names who make up the list of finalists: a who’s who of today’s piano world. The Arts Council congratulates Dame Fanny for her outstanding dedication for over 50 years and wishes her well for the future.”
Sir Mark Elder CBE, Music Director of the Hallé comments: “Dame Fanny's achievement in setting up and guiding this competition for 50 years is extraordinary. She has given us all something to cherish, and, on behalf of all of us in the Hallé, we are very proud to have been part of it these last years.”
Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Dame Fanny Waterman continues to be a truly inspirational figure in our city, who has played a pivotal part in the success of the Leeds International Piano Competition since its inception in 1961. Her tireless hard work, energy and vision have been absolutely crucial not only in making ‘The Leeds’  an event that is now greatly admired and respected around the world, but also in putting our city on the global map. Both as a council and a city we would like to thank Dame Fanny for all her efforts in her role as Chairman and Artistic Director.”
Dr Richard Shephard, interim Chairman of the Board of Trustees said, “Dame Fanny’s retirement does not represent the end of an era. Thanks to her insistence on exemplary artistic standards the competition is set to continue for another fifty years and beyond, and Dame Fanny’s successor will be fortunate indeed to be able to build on the foundations of quality and integrity for which the Leeds Competition is rightly renowned throughout the world.”
The Board of Trustees has begun its search for a new Artistic Director. Dame Fanny Waterman has agreed to stay in office for the entirety of that recruitment process, in order to affect a smooth handover to her successor.

Find out about the upcoming 2015 Leeds International Piano Competition
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