Who is the Leeds?

When Fanny Waterman founded the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition in UK (as it was previously known) in 1961, there was little expectation that it would grow to be a cradle of so many fantastic piano careers and maestros. Its first competition held in 1963 and since then has been one of the homes of exceptional piano competition and high-profile winners. The Leeds as it is informally known became part of the World Federation of International Music Competitions in 1965 and has been running since then.

Water served as the competition’s chair and artistic director until she retired in 2015. Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse have replaced her as Co-artistic directors.

Competition Format

Starting from the 2018 competition, the first international round of the contest takes place in several cities namely Singapore, New York, and Berlin, Germany. This round takes place up to six months before the main competition. Contestants will play a 25-minute recital which the jury will use to select 24 semi-finalists. These semi-finalists from the first round will converge in Leeds for the main competition.

Each contestant will give two different recital programs which will be scored and also write a 500-word essay explaining their musical choices to help the jury to understand their musical thinking.

After that, a piece of chamber music round will serve as another test of musicianship for the contestants. This new round was introduced to the Leeds competition to provide a modern means of assessment. The final five finalists will then play two concertos. The requirement for this last Concerto round will be one classical concerto and another one which could be from the Romantic period or later.

Apart from the competition rounds, the Leeds also offers masterclasses from titans in the industry, talks and educational events. Medici.tv also broadcasts all the rounds of the competition online as part of efforts to reach a global audience and increase interest in the game.

Prizes and Awards

There are three main prized awarded at The Leeds including an Audience award which is decided by the online fans. A prize of £25,000, £15,000 and £10,000 go to the top three finalists. Finalists outside the top three who do not win any award all get £5,000 per person, while semi-finalists get £2,000 for their efforts. Contestants also stand a chance to win a period of exclusive mentorship by Artistic Director, Paul Lewis and other distinguished pianists from the jury. Management deals with Askonas Holts are also available for the top three finalists.

The Terence Judd Hallé Orchestra Prize also comes with a monetary gift of £5,500. The winner will also earn three performance opportunities alongside the Hallé orchestra (paid). The Manchester Midday Concerts shows will also offer an opportunity to the winner. The medici.tv Audience award winner is the contestant with the highest number of online votes. Medici.tv offers the winner a live webcast of a future concert.

Judging and fairness

As part of the Leeds’s commitment to fair competition, the jury consists entirely of performers and not full-time teachers to prevent jury members from colluding to vote for one another’s students.

Final words

The Leeds continues to be an excellent opportunity to identify the best musical talents between the ages of 20 to 29, offering them a chance to kick off their careers with the best management and mentors.

For more information please call Maggie Pollio – Houston Piano Consultant at 832.594.7267 or maggie@houstonpianoconsultant.com.