New Leeds Piano Trail aims to hit the high notes in all the right places

A new piano trail has been launched in Leeds aiming to hit all the right notes in all the right places.

Saturday, 4th September 2021, 4:45 am
'Floating Pianos' on Briggate. PIC: Gary Longbottom

The Leeds Piano Trail is bringing music back to street corners as part of the 20th Leeds International Piano Competition, launching an engaging and interactive programme of events and activities.

The world-famous competition is bringing its passion out of the concert hall and onto the streets for everyone to enjoy in partnership with LeedsBID (Leeds Business Improvement District).

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Artist Tim Vincent-Smith with his work The Piano Cube at Trinity Leeds. PIC: Gary Longbottom

The two-week festival runs until Sunday, September 19, and showcases a unique series of installations featuring sculptures made entirely from up-cycled pianos, created by critically acclaimed artists’ collective Pianodrome, to discover alongside instruments transformed by local-based artists and community groups.

Pianos appear to rise out of Briggate while others take the form of shapes, have been transformed into an allotment shed or incorporate lights and abstract objects.

Animating the streets in prominent locations from Leeds Station to Trinity Leeds, Victoria Quarter and Kirkgate Market to Merrion Street Gardens and the University of Leeds, the trail provides a catalyst for residents, families and visitors to come together once again.

The world-renowned Leeds International Piano Competition (LIPC) returns to the city this month, defying the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver its biggest-ever

Piano tuner Ben Trewhaft at the keys of 'Power to the People' in Mandela Gardens. PIC: Gary Longbottom

competition and associated city centre programme of events. It the climax of the competition is scheduled to be held over the weekend of September 17 and September 18.

With opportunities for everyone to get involved with everything from learn to play in a day to lullaby baby yoga sessions to Pianosaurus piano sessions linking in the city’s family friendly Leeds Jurassic Trail 2, the trail aims to connect communities and ignite a passion for music along the way.

‘Growing Stronger Together’ forms a central theme throughout the trail, tackling topics of climate change, mental health wellbeing and community through the involvement of local organisations such as Leeds Allotment Federation, Leeds Citizens and Leeds Minds Inkwell Arts putting their own mark on the pianos.

Adam Gatehouse, artistic director of Leeds International Piano Competition said: "As the world’s most famous piano competition gets under way in Leeds, the whole city is coming to

'The Elephant in the Room' on Cookridge Street. PIC: Gary Longbottom

life as never before with the unique Leeds Piano Trail - 10 pianos specially decorated by different Leeds communities are spread out across the city in public places for all to come and play and enjoy.

He added: “Why not join up for one of the many exciting community activities that are being organised for everyone, young and old to participate in? Or come and see the iconic sculptures that are next to each piano, each one made of recycled piano parts? This is a truly unique opportunity to get to know the pianos from the inside, and all in the vibrant, exciting city of Leeds! Don’t miss it!"

The University of Leeds is the competition's principal partner and has played a vital role in its development locally, regionally and internationally since its inception in 1963.

Professor Simone Buitendijk, University of Leeds vice-chancellor and Trustee of the Leeds International Piano Competition, said: “Extending the reach of the Competition globally and locally is important so that more people than ever have access to the wonderful opportunities presented by the Competition.

“Arts and culture play a vital role in higher education and in society as a whole. Experiencing the arts - and perhaps in particular the performing arts -  encourages us to reflect, debate, and often to practise mindfulness.   

 “The arts are, and will continue to be, key to our stability and hope for the future during challenging times. The Competition is a cornerstone of the city’s artistic offer.”

For further information about the Leeds Piano Trail (locations, pianos and sculptures) and the daily programme of events, visit: pianotrail.welcometoleeds.co.uk .

For tickets and further information about Leeds International Piano Competition, visit: leedspiano.com .

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