Leeds International Piano Competition to go global

FLASHBACK: Masaru Yoshitake performing in the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2015. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
FLASHBACK: Masaru Yoshitake performing in the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2015. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

The global reach of Leeds International Piano Competition has been extended by a new internet streaming deal.

International audiences will be able to experience performances live and on-demand via medici.tv, the world’s leading online classical music channel.

There will also be the first ever overseas round of the competition. Heats will take place during April in New York, Berlin and Singapore. Those who successfully progress from the first round will gather in Leeds in September to participate in the second round and for places in the semi-finals and finals.

The scope of the competition has been enlarged thanks to a renewed partnership with the University of Leeds. The university, which has been on board since the competition’s inception in 1963, has extended its financial support for the competition to open up access to the streaming service.

Professor Hai-Sui Yu, pro-vice-chancellor: International at the University of Leeds, said: “Leeds is a truly global University which welcomes students and staff from around the world and we are honoured to build on our long-standing relationship with ‘The Leeds’ to help it reach the screens of new international audiences as it moves to the next stage in its evolution.

“The innovations of streaming and heats across three continents resonate with the University’s own view of the role and potential of culture: that it should be accessible, democratic and enriching. The Leeds encompasses all three of these attributes, and those who are enhancing it for the modern era are doing so with a respect for its illustrious past while setting an innovative and ambitious course for its future.”

Former concert pianist and teacher Fanny Waterman had the idea to bring a piano competition to Leeds.

She was assisted by her husband Dr Geoffrey de Keyser and by Marion Thorpe, then Countess of Harewood. The first competition in 1963 was won by Michael Roll before a jury chaired by Sir Arthur Bliss. In 1966 and 1969 the chair of the jury was William Glock, who was followed by Lord Boyle of Handsworth for the next three competitions. In 1981 Dame Fanny Waterman, as she was to become in 2005, chaired the jury for the first time, continuing to do so until her retirement in 2015. Leeds Town Hall has hosted all but one of the finals.

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