Entranced by piano concertos

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Some friends and I were lucky to have tickets for the final of the 13th Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition on Saturday March 4 which was wonderful. There were six finalists chosen out of hundreds tat the organisers listened to during 2016 in the US, Italy, Japan, Germany and England. Three pianists played on Friday, February 3 and the other three we heard the following day. We did hope to hear the finalist but to be sure of this one has to attend both nights.

Koki Kuroiwa, Japan and Giuseppe Guarrera, Italy, runners up

The pieces we heard were Rachmaninov, piano concerto No. 2, Tchaikovsky piano concerto No. 1 and Beethoven piano concerto No. 5. All three pianists were fantastic but my friends and I thought Giusppe Guarrera from Italy was the best, but of course we had not listened to the first three the night before.

At the end of the concert the judges appeared and the prizes were presented.

We were a little disappointed not to have heard the winner of the first prize which went to Kenneth Broberg, 23 years old, from the US who played Gershwin’s piano concerto in F. He was one of the contestants who played on Friday.

Though it might be disappointing to the other five candidates not to have won, I would be in no doubt that having come this far it will help them in the future.

The website informs us that the celebrated Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition has its roots as far back as 100 years. Piano classes have been part of the Hastings Musical Festival since 1935. In 1946 a Bexhill school boy, named Philip Ledger, won the under 9 pianoforte class to eventually become the Director of Music at King’s College Cambridge between 1964 and 1982. In the 1990s’ concerto classes diminished in UK’s conservatoires until 2005 when the inspiration of Jonathan Marten and a sub-committee,  led to a revival of the competition, also getting help from its first sponsor Bluthner Pianos, London and the hard work/encouragement of Sir Philip Ledger.

The competition has been fortunate from the outset in having financial support of friends and sponsors but was most fortunate in 2010 when David and Sarah Kowitz of the Kowitz Foundation promised to help the project forward. In 2013 Yamaha became the instrument sponsor and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra the guest orchestra, returning in 2017 for the 12th Annual Final, playing to a full audience in the White Rock theatre.

I would urge everyone to find time in March 2018, if possible, to experience these two nights. Prior to the finals, one can attend morning, afternoon or evening sessions during the week, each only costing £5. 

Photos: HIPCC

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