Instrumentalist of the World competition to be launched in East Sussex

A new international classical music competition called Instrumentalist of the World is to be launched at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.
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The first competition will take place in October 2025 and will welcome competitors aged 18-30 who will compete for the title. Coming first, though, will be the competition’s launch concert at the De La Warr Pavilion on October 12 this year, with a major concert with the BBC Concert Orchestra and international solo instrumentalists including the Grammy-nominated and Classical Brit-winning saxophonist Amy Dickson. The concert will take place at 7pm. Tickets for the launch concert are on More information about the competition can be found at

Ian Roberts, who is setting up the competition, confirmed it will be open to all solo instruments excluding piano, with the three finalists each giving a concerto performance with orchestra at the De La Warr Pavilion, the competition's home.

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“The charity will also produce a programme of music education for children and young people and will shine a spotlight on world-class classical music experiences for the Rother and East Sussex communities.

Ian Roberts (contributed pic)Ian Roberts (contributed pic)
Ian Roberts (contributed pic)

“With my many years of experience working in the music and charitable world and more recently as the managing director of Hastings International Piano Competition, I am excited to produce a major addition to the UK classical music calendar,” Ian said.

It is all about creating opportunity: “I went to a village school and had a great music education free of charge. I was always encouraged to excel and was always given opportunities. It wouldn't have mattered if I was any good or not. The fact is that I was given the chance. But that just doesn't seem to be happening now. The reason behind the competition is that Sussex has amazingly talented young people but doing something outside of London can be quite difficult. I want to bring the best talent to Sussex. I've been living in Sussex for 12 years and I've been visiting for 20 years. I've made my home here and I have worked with the De La Warr Pavilion who do an incredible job.

“After leaving the Hastings International Piano, I had the idea of setting up a competition for instrumentalists but not pianists and giving them the opportunity to compete on the south coast at an amazing venue and also to bring a world-class orchestra here. And for the people that live here the competition will be a chance to hear the world's best trail-blazing talent. There will also be a music education charity that will help build up opportunities.

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“But the first thing is the launch concert in October to get people aware of what is happening. We want to build up a community around the competition and to have enough time to bring people in. Entries will open in the autumn and we have got some amazing people that are starting to support us already. You will have to be between 18 and 30 to enter and have to have been classically trained in any establishment in any country.

"I would hope that about 200 people would record a video and enter. Lots of competitions travel around the world and that's just not very good for the environment. People will enter by video and I would imagine we're looking at a shortlist about 30 to 40 and I would say about 30 will perform in Bexhill in the early rounds and then maybe three or four will go through to the final.

“These things cost a lot of money to do. The reason it is a charity is that we will be able to encourage people to donate and there will be a patron scheme so that people can really be part of the whole thing.

"We will be launching the scheme in the summer. We will also be applying to trusts and foundations, and we will be applying to the Arts Council. It costs up to £200,000 a year to run this type of organisation. Because I have had the experience I know there are lots of people who like the idea of supporting music education and I've already had several promises of support.”