Leeds Piano Competition 2018: Finalists announced

It’s my first day in Leeds and my first experience of the Leeds Piano Competition.

Some brief thoughts follow, plus the names of the finalists announced this evening.


What’s been really striking from the semi-finals I’ve attended today is how demanding the competition is. A considerable amount of repertoire needs to be prepared by each musician (fourteen or fifteen) for the competition; then there are additional concert appearances in Leeds throughout the competition and various masterclasses. Within the semi-final the soloist is expected to shift from solo repertoire to chamber music in a short space of time. I like it being a tough competition in that way.

Boundaries

Something that has really come into focus for me today is how we discuss the concert experience. I’ve heard a few people talk about what the performer has or hasn’t done to illicit a desired (or undesired) outcome in a performance, and how that has contributed to a successful or otherwise experience for the audience member.

I do it myself from time to time, even though I’m striving to talk authentically (which essentially means I end up talking about myself a tremendous amount) so that others feel encouraged to do so themselves.

The real moment of clarity for me came around boundaries. I mentioned it in the last video from today on the Twitter feed. My point is this: we as audience members can only really speak authoritatively about how we felt in response to the performance we engaged with as listeners.

We can speculate about what the performer did or didn’t do, of course. But we aren’t the performer themselves so can’t speak authoritatively for them. We shouldn’t allow ourselves or other audience members to feel as though their view of their experience is downgraded just because they don’t back up their opinion with technical expertise.

I’m increasingly of the mind, for example, that a worrying majority of the audience is unwittingly battling with imposter syndrome when they engage in conversation about the artform – that so has to stop). I am responsible for my own emotional reaction to a performance, just as you are for yours. I wonder whether that’s the point we need to be getting across more to people – giving them permission to articulate their personal response to a performance.

Fanboy

I’m conscious that I haven’t seen the other finalists semi-final performances yet, but after having heard four today, I’m just going to throw caution to the wind and throw my weight behind 20 year-old Eric Lu from the United States. His Chopin Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor was a remarkable concert experience this evening. Watch the performance on Medici TV. 

Finalists 

Anna Geniushene
Mario Häring
Aljoša Jurinić
Eric Lu
Xinyuan Wang

Three finalists will play concertos with the Halle Orchestra and Edward Gardner on Friday; the remaining two on Saturday night. Both finals are streamed lived on Medici TV.

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