Sparkling new makeover for The Leeds International Piano Competition

19 October 2016
Archive-Picture-98000.jpg Leeds town hall
Artistic Directors Paul Lewis & Adam Gatehouse present their global vision for the 2018 Competition and beyond
Sparkling new makeover for The Leeds International Piano Competition Images

At the press launch of the Leeds International Piano Competition, which took place at London's Wigmore Hall on 18 October, its two new Artistic Directors Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse presented their global vision for the future of 'The Leeds' - one of the world's most renowned piano competitions


The below innovations were announced: 

New-concept portfolio prize offering winners unprecedented long-term career opportunities, including new partnerships with Askonas Holt; an enhanced partnership with BBC Radio 3 that offers concert and recording possibilities; a debut recording, and engagements with leading promoters and venues


International first rounds in Berlin, New York and Singapore These to take place in April 2018, ensuring a well-timed build-up to the finals in September


The BBC to cover the Semi-finals and the Grand Final (more details to be announced in due course) to stream all the rounds internationally


An enriched programme of events and activities in Leeds for audiences and participants, including a new chamber music element in the semi-final. Plus masterclasses, talks, films, discussions and more to take place throughout the city


An international and performer-led jury, chaired by Paul Lewis – with international concert pianists Imogen Cooper, Lars Vogt and Simon Trpceski already on board


New partnerships with London’s Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre for a new Leeds Piano Festival, and with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic for a Concerto engagement with Vasily Petrenko


Consolidation of existing partnerships with BBC television and radio, The Hallé, Leeds City Council, Leeds University and Steinway with broadcasts and events to be announced


Personal mentoring programme with Paul Lewis and other international pianists


In creating a new and distinctive portfolio prize for the winner, Lewis and Gatehouse have set out to redefine what a music competition can offer young performers. Askonas Holt, one of the world's leading arts management agencies, will offer management to one of the prize winners; an enhanced partnership with BBC Radio 3 will offer concert and recording possibilities to the winner. Also included in the prize portfolio will be a debut recording with the Champs Hill label, engagements with leading international promoters, festivals and orchestras including London's Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; a personal mentoring programme from Paul Lewis and other leading international pianists, as well as a rich cash prize.
 This 'package' aims to ensure that the best young artists have the opportunities, support and advice to develop significant long-term careers.


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To invigorate the international reach and influence of the Leeds International Piano Competition, the first round will now take place in Berlin, New York and Singapore. This will not only take The Leeds to wider than ever audiences, but ensure that the best talent worldwide has greater opportunity to participate. In addition, a new partnership with will enable international audiences to access streams of all the rounds live or on-demand across a wide variety of platforms. There are also plans for ground-breaking digital education work with the piano at its core, which will resonate with the tireless work of The Leeds’ Global Ambassador, Lang Lang.


The musical ‘Northern Powerhouse’ that is The Leeds – the only Leeds-based event with the word ‘international’ in its name and associated with its reputation - will not only be extended through worldwide streaming and international first rounds, but also through major new performance opportunities around the world in the years between the triennial competition. Among these will be a Leeds Piano Festival in Leeds and London, thanks to a significant new partnership between The Leeds, Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre. The first is planned for May 2018, in advance of the next Competition in September 2018. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra will also offer the winner a Concerto engagement to open its 2018/19 season in a special concert under the baton of its Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko in Liverpool. And in its ongoing partnership with The Leeds, The Hallé will continue its long-held tradition of inviting one or more of the winners to perform with the orchestra.


For audiences and participants in Leeds, there will be an enriched and fulfilling programme of events and activities during the competition including master classes, talks, discussions, films and the introduction of a new chamber music element in the semi-finals.


The appointment of an Education Officer and partnerships with local organisations such as Leeds City Council and Leeds University, will enable The Leeds to provide an extensive programme of educational and outreach work involving Leeds prize winners and the local community.


Alongside the many advances, Lewis and Gatehouse will also continue to nurture the Competition’s hallmark qualities of excellence and integrity with a high benchmark for the selection of participants and a jury led by internationally renowned performers, including Paul Lewis (Chairman), Imogen Cooper, and Lars Vogt.


Lewis and Gatehouse were appointed in August 2015 to build on the great legacy of Dame Fanny Waterman. Dame Fanny, who stepped down last year at the age of 95, founded ‘The Leeds’ in 1961 creating what is now widely viewed as one of the world’s most prestigious and influential piano competitions, known for discovering the talents of some of the greatest pianists of our time, including Murray Perahia, Radu Lupu, Mitsuko Uchida and András Schiff.


As Artistic Directors, Lewis and Gatehouse will work alongside the newly appointed Chief Executive Mark Wingate, Chair of the Board Sir Vernon Ellis and a dedicated team of Trustees, as well as existing partners such as The Hallé, Leeds Town Hall, BBC Radio and TV, Leeds City Council and Leeds University.


Applications for the 2018 competition open in September 2017. First rounds take place in Berlin, New York and Singapore in April 2018 with semi-finals and finals in Leeds in September 2018.


INSIDE PIANIST! Pianist magazine will be featuring the Competition, in depth, in the Feb/March 2017 issue. We speak to Artistic Directors Adam Gatehouse, Paul Lewis and to the 2015 winner Anna Tsybuleva.  


More about The Leeds


Photo © Simon Jay Price