This year’s Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition is under way. It began on Thursday February 22 at the White Rock Theatre and will culminate in ten days time in a grand two day final on March 3 and 4 featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

There were a record number of entries from around the world this year, reflecting the competition’s growing international reputation. It is now recognised worldwide as a major challenge for aspiring concert pianists.

It’s not hard to see why if you look at the results of last year’s most prestigious American piano competition, the Cliburn, which is held every four years. It is an invitation only event and last year five of the 30 invitees were former Hastings contestants.

2017 Winner Kenny Broberg
PICTURE: Richard Grebby RG Studios


Last year’s Hastings winner, Kenny Broberg from the US, won the Silver Medal. He was beaten to the Gold Medal by the pianist who came second in the 2014 Hastings competition, Yekwon Sunwoo from South Korea. Such results do not go unnoticed.

The first stage of this year’s competition began on Thursday (February 22) and continues until Saturday February 24. Contestants play excerpts from the concerto they have chosen from the competition’s list, with an accompanist playing the orchestral part. There will be five sessions each day

Up to 24 contestants will then go through to Stage 2, on Monday February 26 and Tuesday February 27, when they will play excerpts from a second concerto they have chosen from a separate list.  Again there will be five sessions a day. Tickets for both stages are £4 per session or £15 for a whole day.

Once again this year children under 16 accompanied by a paying adult will be able to attend any of the Stage One and Two sessions for free. Schools are also being invited to send groups to the first two stages free of charge. To book, schools should apply to [email protected]

A maximum of 12 contestants will then go through to the Semi-Final on Wednesday February 28. Each will play a 35 minute recital mainly of music of their own choice, which ensures tremendous variety, though they will all have to play one piece from a list of compulsory composers.

For the semi-final there will be four sessions. Tickets are £20 for the whole day

Six semi-finalists will go through to the Grand Final. The six who don’t will take part in one of the highlights of the competition – a Masterclass given by distinguished members of the international jury on Thursday March 1.

Once again this year the Masterclass will be given at the White Rock Theatre. And to create a truly intimate atmosphere, the audience will be seated on the stage with the participants – a chance to gain a real insight into the intricacies of playing the piano at this level. Tickets are £20 to include wine and canapés.

Then comes the Grand Final itself, which will take place over two evenings – Friday March 2 and Saturday March 3. The finalists – three each evening – will perform one of their chosen concertos in full with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, a rare chance to play with one of the great orchestras of the world.

The winner will receive a cheque for £15,000, the chance to perform as a soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and an opportunity to play a concerto in the United States, as well as other concerts.

All stages of the competition will take place at the White Rock Theatre and are open to the public. Tickets are available from the White Rock Theatre or call 01424 462288


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