Hastings piano competition

Five of the world’s best young concert pianists took part in two days of finals this week in Hastings with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Rory Macdonald. American / Taiwanese pianist Curtis Phill Hsu won the coveted Sophia Guo first prize after a scintillating performance of Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto.

The prize includes £15,000 cash as well as professional engagements with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hastings Fellowship, an invaluable artist development package provided by one of the UK’s leading artist’s agents. Other prizes included a prize awarded by members of the orchestra, and a special prize for the best performance of a new work specially commissioned for the competition’s second (recital) round from American composer Lera Auerbach. Prizes awarded are as follows:

  • First prize to Curtis Phill Hsu, 19 (USA/Taiwan)
  • Second prize (£7,000) to Harmony Zhu, 18 (Canada)
  • Third prize (£3,000) to Chengyao Zhou, 16 (China)
  • Fourth prize (£1,500) to Derek Wang, 25 (USA)
  • Fifth prize (£1,000) to Hyelim Kim, 27 (South Korea)
  • The Sussex Prize (£2,500) to Curtis Phill Hsu, awarded for the best performance in the semi-finals
  • The Orchestra Prize (£500) to Harmony Zhu, awarded by members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
  • The Hastings Prize (£500) to Chengyao Zhou, awarded for the best performance of the new commission by Lera Auerbach
  • The Festival d’Auvers-sur-Oise Prize to Curtis Phill Hsu and Harmony Zhu
    An engagement at the 2025 Festival, awarded by Juror Pascal Escande to the finalist/s of his choice

Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition is fast becoming one of the UK’s most important piano competitions, and now attracts entries from all over the world. The 2024 competition took place over 10 days at the White Rock Theatre, Hastings.

40 competitors – aged between 16 and 30 at the time of the competition – were chosen to take part from almost 250 young concert pianists who submitted video auditions. In stage one, participants were required to play movements of two contrasting concertos, accompanied by another pianist. 20 competitors were selected to go through to the stage two, the recital round, in which competitors were asked to devise and perform a short solo recital including a specially commissioned new work by the Austrian-American composer Lera Auerbach.

10 pianists were selected to go through to the semi-finals and performed classical concertos accompanied for the first time this year by the Southbank Sinfonia – a chamber orchestra that is formed anew each year by recruiting 33 promising music graduates. Finally, five finalists were chosen to perform larger Romantic or twentieth century concertos, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The competition was generously supported by Steinway & Sons and streamed live by educational charity UCanPlay using state-of-the-art microphones provided by Sontronics Ltd. All rounds of the competition can be seen on the HIP YouTube Channel.

Professor Vanessa Latarche, artistic firector of Hastings International Piano, and president of the jury, said: “We were absolutely thrilled at the incredibly high standard of competition this year, and Curtis should be very proud to have been chosen as recipient of the first prize. He was a strong contender from the outset. Everything he played was polished and stylish. The final Tchaikovsky was exhilarating and showed him at his most exciting and powerful. However all the competitors, and especially all those who reached the final, displayed impressive skill, virtuosity and musicianship that made our job as members of the jury a difficult one. I extend my thanks to all the members of the jury who worked so hard over the past ten days. I look forward to seeing how the competition develops in the future”

Find us online
Visit our website: www.hastingsinternationalpiano.org
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@HastingsInternationalPiano/streams
Facebook: @hastingsconcertocompetition
Instagram: @hastingspianoconcerto

Image Credits: Alice Denny .

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