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

krpan

Winner of the 61st Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition, Ivan Krpan shares his thoughts on influences, inspirations and performing

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

My parents inspired me to start learning about music when I was a child. My father is a violinist and my mother a musicologist so I have been surrounded by music my whole life. When I was six years old I started to go to Blagoje Bersa music school in Zagreb and for some reason I liked the piano more than other instruments so that’s how it started.

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

My parents had a big influence on me especially during the first years of music school. My first teacher, Renata Strojin Richter, taught me all the basics of piano playing and music in general so I am really grateful to her. And of course, my current teacher, Ruben Dalibaltayan, taught me a lot during our piano lessons in the Music Academy in Zagreb.

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

I cannot really say but I think that the greatest challenge in life of any artist is to pursue and develop your ideas every day.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

When I look back I see that every performance has its own place in my musical development and that every performance is a representation of my state of mind at that point. All my performances make a big picture for me so I appreciate them all.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I like to think that I play best any work I am currently playing.

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

I play works I like or works I am interested in. And when I play works I am interested in, I start to like them. Also, I am still studying so I have to play what is required for exams.

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

No, I don’t have a favourite concert venue. I enjoy playing in lot of different places. Also, I think that people who I play for are more important than the hall itself.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I don’t know because every concert is different, so I remember them because of all those different things I encounter. For example, I remember some concerts because of the beautiful pianos I played and some because the awful pianos that I played on! Also I remember some when the audience was very noisy during the concert and at some other concerts I had the feeling that people were really interested in what I was trying to give them.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

I think that you are successful if you are going forward following your ideas. The most important thing in art and in life in general is that nothing ever stays the same. Everything is changing and so we should also change and evolve. It is not easy but if you manage to do it then you are really successful.

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

The most important thing for anyone is to be yourself without pretending and to do what you love to do.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness is when you do what you love to do and when you can help others live that way.

 

Ivan Krpan’s debut recording is available exclusively on IDAGIO and juxtaposes two giants of the Romantic era: Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin. 

Listen here


Ivan Krpan was born in Zagreb in 1997. He began studying the piano at the age of 6 at the Blagoje Bersa Music School in Zagreb, under the tutelage of Renata Strojin Richter. From 2013, he has been studying piano with Ruben Dalibaltayan at the Music Academy in Zagreb. He has won several first prizes in national and international piano competitions: first prize in the EPTA International Piano Competition in Bruxelles in 2014, 1st prize in the International Piano Competition Young Virtuosi in Zagreb in 2014, 2nd prize in the International Danube Piano Competition in Ulm (Germany) in 2014 and 1st prize in the International Piano Competition in Enschede (The Netherlands). In 2015 he won 4th prize in the 1st International Zhuhai Mozart Competition in Zhuhai (China). Recently he won the annual Ivo Vuljević prize awarded by the Jeunesses Musicales Croatia for the best young musician in Croatia in 2015. He has participated in masterclasses of Dalibor Cikojević, Siavush Gadjiev, Ruben Dalibaltayan, Djordje Stanetti, Kemal Gekić, Pavel Gililov and Klaus Kaufmann. He won a special prize from Dean of Zagreb Music Academy in 2014.

The Thoroughly Good Classical Music Podcast invites three people who play, listen or otherwise work in classical music to sit and discuss the subject they love. They’re unplanned conversations recorded as live, very nearly unedited, and more often than not take unexpected twists and turns.

In this the second Thoroughly Good Podcast to which I’ve contributed, Adam Gatehouse, co-Artistic Director of the Leeds International Piano Competition, outlines the changes the competition has undergone since the retirement of Dame Fanny Waterman (the competition’s founder), in addition to more general conversation about communication in performance and why the core canon of the piano repertoire is special.

LISTEN HERE

Guest article by Shirley Smith Kirsten

Facebook was abuzz with reminders of George Li’s touchdown in the Bay Area’s glittering Davies concert hall, a venue that absorbs a splash of pastel beams from the neighboring flagship government building. Glass panels reflect back montages of color that provide a rush of excitement for ticket holders slipping into seats right under the bell.

FB “friends” and faithful George “followers” were page-alerted to a ‘meet and greet’ event in the lobby following the recital. It would be a shower of support for a pianist we’d seen and heard by livestream from exotic locations including Moscow and Verbier. Frames in progress had included George’s Silver Medal triumph at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, magnified on computer screens around the world!

***

The Back Story

From my humble perch in Berkeley, I’d set aside 75 conscientious minutes to get to Davies Hall. It was a conservative travel measure, given lax Sunday train schedules and my propensity to get mired in Civic Center traffic as a clueless pedestrian in foreign urban terrain. (San Francisco’s maze of complex street crossings and intersections, bundled in congestion, had always seriously confused me, impeding on-foot progress in any direction).

Yet, despite well-intended, precautionary travel efforts, I couldn’t have anticipated a vexing single platform BART crisis that launched a crescendo of complications right up to my shaky finish line arrival at Davies. There, at its entrance, my concert companion/adult piano student stood patiently, dispatching block-to-block text messages to keep me on track.

With good luck and concerted teamwork, we made it to our first tier balcony seats just as George advanced toward a shining model D Steinway grand.

It was a pure bliss erasure of prior travails:

Melted deceptive cadences rippled through a crystalline rendering of Haydn’s B minor Sonata (No. 30) as trills and ornaments immaculately decorated clear melodic lines in a liquid outpouring of phrases. The middle Minuet movement was charmingly played passing with grace to a culminating Presto in brisk, bravura tempo with unswerving attention to line, shape, and contour.

Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata in F minor, op. 57, followed with tonal variation and keen structural awareness. The performance was both gripping and directional, wrapped in ethereal tonal expression.

Li’s singular sound autograph permeates his performances amidst an array of varying nuances and articulations. He has what pianist, Uchida terms “charisma” and a singular tonal personality.

Meaning and musical context are core ingredients of Li’s artistry and his wide palette of colors are at his liquid disposal through deeply felt effusions of expression. (While Li is a natural, intuitional performer, his sensitive fusion of aesthetics and intellect is always on display, exposed, as well in media interviews.)

A Presto Classical set of queries elicited thoughtful responses.

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/interview/1893/George-Li-Live-at-the-Mariinsky

***

The Davies Hall recital, continued after Intermission with a rippling roll-out of works by Rachmaninoff and Liszt, all imbued with a permeating spirit of mature music-making that’s intrinsic to Li’s ongoing ripening process. And as a cap to a memorable evening of inspired artistry, George played his final encore – a pyro-technically charged Bizet/Carmen transcription that drove listeners to their feet in a chorus of BRAVOS!!!

(This snapshot was provided by a friend who had permission to publicly post it, thanks to Li’s generosity and that of his representatives)

In a culminating MEET and GREET event, post-recital, audience members had an opportunity to share IN PERSON enthusiasm and appreciation of George’s artistry, while purchasing the artist’s newly released CD.

For me, a tete a tete with George, provided an opportunity to thank him for his generosity as a teen when he delivered well-conceived responses to my reams of technically framed questions about practicing, technique, and repertoire.

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/my-interview-with-george-li-a-seasoned-pianist-at-16/

Finally, here’s an encore of gratitude to George for his inspired love of music, and for his reach into our hearts with each memorable performance. Come back soon!


 

Shirley Smith Kirsten is an American pianist and teacher who blogs at arioso7.wordpress.com


Turkish pianist Can Çakmur has been named the 11th winner of the Scottish International Piano Competition (SIPC).

The 20-year-old receives £10,000, the Sir Alexander Stone Memorial Trophy and the Frederic Lamond Gold Medal, and will perform with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in their 2018/19 season.

Born in 1997 in Ankara, Can Çakmur has studied at the Hochschule für Music Franz Liszt Weimar, and with Diane Andersen in Belgium. He had won a number of international competitions and awards, appeared in major festivals throughout his native Turkey, and performed as soloist throughout Europe.

Held as a triennial event, the Scottish International Piano Competition this year welcomed 23 competitors from 15 countries across 3 continents. The panel of 8 jurors included internationally acclaimed pianists Steven Osborne and Olga Kern and was chaired by Head of Keyboard at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Aaron Shorr.

Second Prize of £7,500 and the Lawrence Glover Silver Medal went to Florian Mitrea, 27, from Romania. Florian also won best performance of Gordon McPherson’s The Pounding Room, a new work commissioned as the test piece for this year’s competition. Georgian born Luka Okros, 20, now based in the UK, took home the Third prize of £5000 and The Douglas McKerrell Memorial Prize. Finalists prizes were supported by SIPC Patrons and Friends, Merchants House of Glasgow, the McKerrell family and Arnold Clark.

The three finalists all performed a concerto on a Fazioli piano with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, under Thomas Søndergård, at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Sunday 10 September. This is the first time a Fazioli piano has been the choice of piano for 100% of the finalists in an international competition.

The concert, dedicated to the memory of Lady Marion Fraser, was recorded by SIPC media partner Classic FM for a Full Works concert to be broadcast at 8pm on Tuesday 19 September 2017. Videos of the performances can be watched here: 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDefVF-0-xILpoh-Sxki9xA/videos

Since launching in 1986, the competition has enabled many talented young musicians to gain recognition at an early stage in their professional careers, many of whom have gone on to international acclaim including Tom Poster (2007), Katya Apekisheva (1998), Charles Owen (1995), Susan Tomes (second prize 1986) and Graeme McNaught (first ever winner 1986).

Held under the auspices of the World Federation of International Music Competitions, SIPC is only one of three major international piano competitions held in the UK, and the only one in Scotland.

Source: Vicky Pitchers Arts PR

Photo ©Robin Mitchell