20-year old American pianist, Eric Lu, has been awarded first place and the Dame Fanny Waterman Gold Medal at the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition 2018, a triennial event which is widely regarded as among the most coveted prizes in the musical world. He also won the Terence Judd Hallé Orchestra Prize.

International star pianist Lang Lang, Global Ambassador of the Competition, presented the prizes following the last Concerto Final with the Hallé, conducted by Edward Gardner in Leeds Town Hall.

In addition to the £25,000 cash prize, Lu receives a ground-breaking portfolio prize designed with long-term career development in mind. It includes worldwide management with Askonas Holt – one of the world’s leading arts management agencies; an international album release on Warner Classics – one of the foremost global classical music recording companies, and a range of performance and recording opportunities with BBC Radio 3. The prize also includes a host of performance engagements with high profile promoters, including with some of the world’s premier venues and orchestras, such as London’s Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre, the Hallé and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestras.

Leeds International Piano Competition
Eric Lu playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in the Final of Leeds Piano Competition

On Thursday [20 September], Lu opens Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s new season under the baton of Vasily Petrenko, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58. On Friday [21 September], Warner Classics releases a digital single of a highlight from his Competition performances, and, on 2 November, a full album, including Lu’s live Concerto performance from the Final with the Hallé conducted by Edward Gardner, as well as a selection of recital repertoire from the earlier Rounds.

Second place, £15,000 and the Yaltah Menuhin Award for the greatest collaborative chamber performance, was awarded to 28-year old German pianist, Mario Häring.

Xinyuan Wang, 23 from China, was third and received £10,000. The Audience Award, which was, for the first time this year, opened up to a global audience through online streaming by medici.tv, also went to Wang, who will have a concert broadcast on medici.tv.

Both Häring and Wang will give major recitals in St George’s Hall, Liverpool, on 17 and 18 September 2018 as part of their prize, and will each – like Lu – have an opportunity to give a solo recital at London’s Wigmore Hall in 2019. A full list of concert engagements for the prize winners is available here.

All the prize winners will have long-term mentoring from Patron Murray Perahia, Co-Artistic Director Paul Lewis – who also chaired the jury, and other members of the performer-led jury which included Sa Chen, Imogen Cooper, Adam Gatehouse, Henning Kraggerud, Thomas Larcher, Gillian Moore, Lars Vogt and Shai Wosner.

The prize presentations followed the conferment of an honorary degree on Lang Lang from the University of Leeds, the Competition’s Principal Partner.

Lang Lang said:

“The Finals of The Leeds will stay in my memory for a long time. It has been a privilege to witness so much extraordinary talent on stage and an honour to receive a Doctorate from the University of Leeds. I’m extremely proud of my association with the city of Leeds, with the piano competition – which is doing so much to unite excellence and accessibility – and with the University. It is truly is the city of the piano and I look forward to returning.” 

Paul Lewis, Chair of the Jury and Co-Artistic Director of The Leeds, said:

“All the pianists  have shown extraordinary  talent, passion and  dedication throughout the Competition, and it goes without saying that the standard of playing has been remarkable. Many of the world’s greatest pianists have started out at The Leeds and I’m certain all the 2018 Finalists  have bright futures, and we look forward to supporting what we believe will be successful and fulfilling careers.“

The Leeds hugely expanded its programme for 2018, going beyond a single competition to become a city-wide celebration of the piano. With a new programme of talks, masterclasses, exhibitions, free family events, schools projects, and concerts – as well as The Leeds Piano Trail, which invited the public to play on 12 beautifully decorated public pianos in the city centre – The Leeds had the opportunity to share its passion for the piano with more people than ever before. The majority of the public pianos will remain in place for the foreseeable future, continuing the Competition’s legacy for new and wider audiences.

medici.tv’s extensive coverage, supported by the University of Leeds, which began in August and ran throughout the Competition, reached audiences in more than 3,700 cities in 140 countries. It was particularly popular in the UK, USA, China, Japan and Germany. Millions more enjoyed the Finals on BBC Radio 3, which broadcast live from Leeds Town Hall and also covered all the Semi-Finals.

All rounds of The Leeds remain available to watch at leedspiano2018.medici.tv for three years, and BBC Radio 3’s extensive coverage of the Semi-Finals and Finals is available via BBC i Player Radio. The Finals are broadcast on BBC FOUR television on Sunday 23 September.

The next Competition will take place in 2021.

For more information about the Competition visit www.leedspiano.com.

@leedspiano


[source: Victoria Bevan PR]

Of course we know the results now and warm congratulations go to all the finalists and  prizewinners.

My brief thoughts on tonight’s performances are again drawn from notes made during the live stream broadcast. It’s not the same, watching at home. How can it be? One loses the special, palpable excitement, the tremors of anticipation which vibrate through the concert hall and the social spaces around it, but the MediciTV live broadcasts have been excellent. I hope this splendid initiative will continue into the next Leeds Competition.

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Xinyuan Wang

Xinyuan Wang – Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.54

A pleasure to hear the Schumann Concerto – it is not performed nearly enough, and Xinyuan Wang brought a warmth and richness to his sound which really suited this heartfelt and deeply romantic music. I felt he really caught the scale and sweep of the work and neatly captured its fleeting, shifting moods and changes of pace. His sound palette was varied and contrasting and he brought a pleasing muscularity to the music, especially in the finale. The second movement had a lovely dialogue with the orchestra and a genial character. The transition had mystery and suspense, though I wanted a little more heorisim in the finale. A poised, assured performance with much communication and rapport with orchestr and conductor. The spontaneous thumbs up by Xinyuan Wang at the end of his performance was rather charming too.

Xinyuan Wang was awarded the MediciTV Audience Prize and Third Prize.

Eric Lu – Beethoven Piano Concerto No.4 in G, Op.58

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Eric Lu

Lu impressed in the earlier rounds – his Chopin B-flat minor Sonata and Fourth Ballade were particularly fine displaying a maturity beyond his 20 years. The Beethoven felt natural and spontaneous with a fantasy-like air to the opening movement. Great clarity and attention to detail, but never at the expense of the expression and character. Lu’s Beethoven was romantic, but never sentimental.

The slow movement had a wonderful contrast between the gruff, punchy interjections by the orchestra and the piano’s serene, calming responses. Again, Lu caught the fleeting moods with exquisite control and tone. The finale was joyful and robust, revealing how Beethoven uses structure and texture rather than pure melody to create drama and excitement. A really thrilling, satisfying, maure and deeply sincere performance.

Eric Lu won the Terence Judd prize, awarded by the Hallé Orchestra  and the Dame Fanny Waterman Gold Medal.

The crescendo to the final of the 2018 Leeds International Piano Competition has been abuzz with activity, commentary and interviews, concerts and masterclasses, and has created a wonderful sense of a shared celebration of all things piano. Many of these activities are the initiative of the new Artistic Directors of the Leeds competition (Adam Gatehouse and Paul Lewis) in a bid to give the competition a wider reach beyond the confines of the concert hall, and even experiencing them at arm’s length, via social media and the broadcasts on MediciTV, I’ve sensed the excitement surrounding the revamped Leeds competition. The addition of a chamber music element to the competition is a very welcome one too, in my opinion, and I agree fully with Adam Gatehouse’s assertion that if one is able to play, connect and communicate with other musicians in a chamber music setting, one is also able to connect and communicate with an orchestra – as the finalists must do in their concerto performances.

MediciTV’s live stream of all the performances has brought an immediacy to those of us who didn’t make it to Leeds in person – the broadcasts are no longer consigned to a discreet evening slot on BBCFour – and also makes the competition feel truly international: anyone can tune in from around the world.

Performances by Aljoša Jurinić (Croatia, aged 29), Anna Geniushene (Russia, aged 27) and Mario Häring (Germany, aged 28) comprised the first evening’s finals concert, and here I offer my brief thoughts (from notes made while watching the live stream broadcast) on the three competitors:

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Aljoša Jurinić

Aljoša Jurinić – Mozart Piano Concerto in C minor, K491

It’s really cheering to see a Mozart concerto in a piano competition final. And this year there are, unusually, no concertos by Rachmaninov or Tchaikovsky. A shot of Aljoša Jurinić backstage, chatting to conductor Edward Gardner, showed a young man who looked incredibly chilled and relaxed ahead of one of the most significant performances of his career. This easefulness was translated into his playing which was natural and poised. The first movement had a lovely clarity of articulation and shading, with a good sense of synergy between soloist and orchestra. Jurinić seemed sensitive to the drama and muscularity of this opening movement, creating a sense of spontaneity and improvisation, particularly in the cadenza. The second movement was elegant and good-natured, but the finale felt a little too polite/safe for me. Given that this concerto was completed just before the premiere of The Marriage of Figaro, I felt more operatic drama was needed. But overall, this was a very mature, confident and engaging performance.

Anna Geniushene – Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.3 in C major, Op.26 

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Anna Geniushene

This for me was a really fine performance – assured, confident, with soul and personality, and a wonderful sense of freedom. My husband, who was half watching in between following la Vuelta (tour of Spain cycling race on his laptop), remarked, without any prompting from me, that he playing was “singing and colourful”. I last heard this concerto performed by Martha Argerich at the Festival Hall in 2016, and I felt Anna brought some of the same excitement, colour and spontaneity to the work, as well as a clear sense of ownership. Her communication with conductor and orchestra was excellent, and the passages where the piano part seems to take flight into its own world were very convincing.

Noriko Ogawa deemed it “a dream concerto!” after the performance – and I agree with her: it was!

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Mario Häring

Mario Häring – Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15

A warm, generous and joyous performance by Mario Häring, with excellent communication with conductor and orchestra. I felt the conductor in particular was really enjoying this work and the pleasure came through, with Mario responding equally in a performance that was lively, precise, colourful and engaging with great clarity and musical sense.

Tonight’s concert features performances by the other two finalists, Eric Lu and Xinyuan Wang.

Follow the Leeds Competition on MediciTV and on Twitter via #LeedsPiano2018


More on the Leeds on this blog:

Leeds preview – in conversation with Jon Jacob

Podcast with Adam Gatehouse

The Leeds International Piano Competition has announced the five pianists who have made it through to the Finals of the world-famous Competition this weekend.  Each Finalist plays a concerto with the Hallé conducted by Edward Gardner at Leeds Town Hall, broadcast live by BBC Radio 3 and medici.tv.

They are:

Aljoša Jurinić (Croatia, aged 29).

He will play Mozart Piano Concerto in C minor, K491 (Friday 14 September, 7pm)

Anna Geniushene (Russia, aged 27).

She will play Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.3 in C major, Op.26 (Friday 14 September, 7.50pm)

Mario Häring (Germany, aged 28)

He will play Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15 (Friday 14 September, 9pm)

Eric Lu (USA, aged 20)

He will play Beethoven Piano Concerto No.4 in G, Op.58 (Saturday 15 September, 7.50pm)

Xinyuan Wang (China, aged 23)

He will play Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.54 (Saturday 15 September, 7pm)

Meet all five competitors here

All performances will be live-streamed via MediciTV

The prize winners will be announced at 9pm and presentations made by Lang Lang at 9pm on Saturday 15 September.

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The Competition began in April, with 68 pianists of the world’s best young pianists, aged between 20 and 29 years old, with international First Rounds in Berlin, Singapore and New York. The five Finalists were chosen from among the 24 who have been participating in Leeds since 6 September.

They are competing not just for generous cash prizes, worth over £90,000, but for a career-changing prize package which has redefined what a competition can offer young artists, and which has helped to attract young international pianists of the very highest calibre promising a thrilling Competition.

The portfolio prize includes artistic management with Askonas Holt, one of the world’s most renowned music management agencies; concerts and engagements with some of the world’s premiere venues and orchestras, including London’s Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre, the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestras; concert and recording engagements with BBC Radio 3, broadcast partner of The Leeds. It also includes a major European tour organised with partners Steinway & Sons; a solo CD with a major label; a programme of recital engagements in Yorkshire and other UK venues; and mentoring from Co-Artistic Director Paul Lewis, Patron Murray Perahia and other members of the performer-led jury, chaired by Paul Lewis, and comprising Sa Chen, Imogen Cooper, Adam Gatehouse, Henning Kraggerud, Thomas Larcher, Gillian Moore, Lars Vogt and Shai Wosner.

www.leedspiano.com

@leedspiano


source: Albion Media

A conversation with Jon Jacob…..

I love the opportunity for interesting interactions and conversations which social media creates, and I have made a number of significant friends in real life through the blogosphere. One is Jon Jacob, a fellow classical music devotee and blogger, and very much a kindred spirit.

We have enjoyed a number of joint projects over the past year, including two podcasts (the most recent with Adam Gatehouse, joint Artistic Director of the Leeds Piano Competition) and our latest – a conversation (by email) ahead of the finals of the Leeds Piano Competition which you can read here on Jon’s blog.

Jon will be attending the Leeds competition finals (sadly, I can’t make it) so do look out for his bulletins via Twitter and follow the competition updates with the hashtag #LeedsPiano2018.

All the performances are being live-streamed by MediciTV – a very welcome innovation as part of the revamped Leeds Competition coverage.


Podcast with Adam Gatehouse

Podcast with composer Thomas Hewitt Jones

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?

Actually no one in my family is a musician; I never had pressure from my family, and the start of my adventure with music was one of the most natural processes – so natural that I still don’t know if I chose the music, or if the music chose me.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Definitely some things I’ve read – philosophical essays, some big German, French, Italian and Russian novels. And of course the holy books.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Every time disenchantment has made its way into my heart.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

Always the next one!

But I’m still touched by some unbelievable experiences, such as my debut at the Royal Albert Hall in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

The new one I’m going to practice!

But Mozart is without any doubt a great friend of mine.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I try to understand the changeable directions of my artistic wishes, and follow them. A concert programme should be a coherent spiritual journey, where different composers and music works interact and connect with each other, reaching a common vision at the end.

Some composers, however, are like lights in the dark for me: things may change on the surface, but deep inside they are always there. I can think of Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann, who have always been very close to my soul.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

The Amsterdam Concertgebouw: that staircase seems to be the stairway to heaven!

Who are your favourite musicians?

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Grigory Sokolov and Sergiu Celibidache.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

A concert with Maestro Gergiev in St. Petersburg. The concert was at 10pm, he arrived at 9.55pm. No rehearsal. Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3 on the menu. My debut with him and his orchestra. Live broadcast in all Russia. I wouldn’t wish those first five minutes on my worst enemy!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

To me, this kind of success simply doesn’t exist. Art is an never-ending creative process, and for this reason it will always be ahead of us, moving infinitely, and as finite humans we will never catch up!

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Just one: that there can be no Beauty if it’s not connected to the Truth.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

I don’t know where I’d like to be, but I certainly know where I’d like not to be: in the land of illusion. I wish to always remain devoted to the Truth.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

When a human being is able to connect with all his own innermost feelings.

What is your most treasured possession?

My will.

What is your present state of mind?

Restless.

Federico Colli’s first album of Scarlatti Piano Sonatas is available now on the Chandos label.

Federico makes his Wigmore Hall debut on 1 November 2018. He will also be making his US debut at Ravinia Festival on 4 September 2018 and his New York debut at Lincoln Center on 2 December 2018.


Italian pianist Federico Colli is internationally recognised for his intelligent, imaginative interpretations and impeccable technique, praised for his ‘crystalline brilliance and translucence that takes you to the heart of everything he plays.’ (Gramophone)
Federico first came to prominence after winning the Salzburg Mozart Competition in 2011 and the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2012. Since then, he has been performing with orchestras including the Mariinsky Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, RAI National Symphony, BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National, RTÉ National Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Vienna Chamber, Camerata Salzburg, Klassische Philharmonie Bonn, Polish Radio National Symphony, Philharmonie Zuidnederland, Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra, Orchestra della Toscana, National Philharmonic of Ukraine and Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira; at venues such as the Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Berlin Konzerthaus, Munich Herkulessaal, Hamburg Laeiszhalle, Beethovenhalle Bonn, NDR Landesfunkhaus in Hannover, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Muziekgebouw Eindhoven, Barbican Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Usher Hall in Edinburgh, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Dublin National Concert Hall, Salle Cortot in Paris, Rudolfinum Dvorak Hall in Prague, Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, Teatro degli Arcimboldi in Milan, Lingotto in Turin, Philharmonic Concert Hall in Warsaw, Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro and the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St Petersburg.

Read more about Federico Colli