American pianist Eric Lu plays his way to win coveted musical title in Leeds

Eric Lu with Dame Fanny Waterman at last night's final of the The Leeds International Piano Competition.
Eric Lu with Dame Fanny Waterman at last night's final of the The Leeds International Piano Competition.
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An American pianist was last night awarded first place at the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition.

Eric Lu, 20, took first place and the Dame Fanny Waterman Gold Medal at the triennial event which is regarded as one of the most coveted prizes in the musical world. He also won the Terence Judd Hallé Orchestra Prize.

In addition to the £25,000 cash prize, Lu receives a portfolio prize designed with long-term career development in mind.

It includes worldwide management with Askonas Holt, an international album release on Warner Classics 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 and venues such as London’s Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre, the Hallé and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestras.

Next Thursday Lu will open 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, Warner Classics will release a digital single of a highlight from his competition performances over the last few weeks followed by in November a full album, including Lu’s live Concerto performance from the final which was at Leeds Town Hall on Saturday.

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 and Xinyuan Wang, 23 from China, was third and received £10,000.

The first Leeds International Piano Competition took place in 1963 and was the idea of local piano teacher and former concert pianist, Fanny Waterman. In bringing the competition to fruition, Dame Fanny, as she was to become in 2005, was assisted by her husband Geoffrey de Keyser and by Marion Thorpe, then Countess of Harewood.

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.“

Eric Lu currently studies at the Curtis Institute of Music with Jonathan Biss and Robert McDonald. He is also a student of Dang Thai Son. Mr. Lu has appeared with the Warsaw Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Staatskapelle Hallé, The National Philharmonic, Arthur Rubinstein Philharmonic, Qatar Philharmonic, Orquestra Clasica Santa Cecilia, Orchestra of the 18th century, New Jersey Symphony, and others.