Hastings piano competition nears conclusion

The 17th Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition is approaching its conclusion, with the final on March 2 at the White Rock Theatre.
The pianos arriving. Pic by Alice DennyThe pianos arriving. Pic by Alice Denny
The pianos arriving. Pic by Alice Denny

Two nine-foot Model D grand pianos were delivered to the venue in preparation. Six more grand pianos were installed in the White Rock hotel nearby for rehearsals. The pianos were provided by the competition’s sponsor Steinway & Sons.

The competition began on Thursday, February 22 and continues until Saturday, March 2 when five finalists will compete for a first prize that has the potential to launch their career as a concert pianist. All the rounds take place at the White Rock Theatre and are being streamed live for a worldwide audience via the website thanks to streaming company UCanPlay. Tickets for the two finals on March 1 and 2 are in short supply, particularly for the second final which will include performances by two of the finalists and by the 2022 winner, Shunta Morimoto, who will perform while the judges are making their final decision as to which of the five finalists will be awarded first prize.

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40 of the world’s best young concert pianists were selected to take part in the competition from among almost 250 applicants from 37 countries. Competitors must be aged between 16 and 30 at the time of the competition to be eligible to take part. For the first time, the Southbank Sinfonia – a chamber orchestra that is formed anew each year by recruiting 33 promising music graduates – will accompany the ten semi-finalists in the classical concertos they choose, and the full forces of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will play once again for the five finalists. Both rounds will be conducted by Rory MacDonald.

The Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition has become one of the world’s pre-eminent international piano competitions and is unusual in that it offers competitors the opportunity to play concerto movements (accompanied by another pianist) from the very first rounds rather than only at a later stage in the competition. Competitors enter the competition prepared to play two contrasting concertos and a solo recital programme devised by the competitor. Recital programmes must include a new piece by the Austrian-American composer Lera Auerbach, commissioned for the competition.

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