• Competitors from 13 countries progress from First Round

11-21 September 2024, Leeds and Bradford

The Leeds International Piano Competition today [15 May 2024] unveils the 24 pianists advancing to the Second Round of the 2024 Competition.

Selected from a pool of outstanding 20-29-year-old talents from all over the world who took part in the First Round across six global centres last month, these pianists now vie for top honours in Leeds in September 2024. This marks their chance to have a transformative and enriching experience in Leeds and the opportunity to win one of the most prestigious prizes in music.

Nine (38%) of the finalists are women, an increase from the First Round where women made up 31% of competitors. This partially reflects new measures introduced by The Leeds to help address the issues of gender balance in the piano world, including blind judging in the shortlisting process and unconscious-bias training for the jury. 

Among the 24 pianists are five from China, three from Canada, Russia and South Korea, two from Japan, and one from Australia, Croatia, Germany, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam. This is the first time a pianist from Vietnam has made it through to the Second Round of the Competition.

Fiona Sinclair, CEO of The Leeds, said: “We’re thrilled to announce the 24 pianists that will compete in the next round of the 2024 Competition, and we can’t wait to welcome them all to Leeds to perform. I’m particularly delighted to see we have a strong proportion of women going through, a testament to the measures we’ve put in place this year. I wish all the competitors the best of luck and look forward to seeing them in Leeds!

Adam Gatehouse, Artistic Director of The Leeds and juror, said: “The number of applicants and the standard this year have been higher than ever, and choosing just 24 pianists to progress to this next stage of the competition has been a very difficult task for the jury. I am thrilled that we have such a broad international range of exceptional young pianists coming to Leeds, and I can’t wait to hear them again – this time in the wonderful setting of the University of Leeds’ Great Hall, and for audiences, both in Leeds and globally, to discover the extraordinary pianistic talent of tomorrow.”  

Each of the Second Round Pianists will now go on to perform a 40-minute solo recital in the Great Hall of the University of Leeds – a Principal Partner of the Competition – in front of an audience and the international, artist-led jury chaired by pianist Dame Imogen Cooper; the other jurors include Adam Gatehouse, Eleanor Alberga, Ingrid Fliter, Mariam Batsashvili, Pavel Kolesnikov, Sa Chen, Till Fellner and Adrian Brendel. From these, ten will progress to the Semi-Finals, where they will perform both solo work and chamber music with the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective, with five then selected to join the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and their Chief Conductor Domingo Hindoyan for the Concerto Finals.

For the first time, the Finals of the competition will relocate outside the city due to renovations at the Leeds Town Hall. The host venue for the Finals will be the historic St George’s Hall in Bradford, known for its excellent ‘shoebox’ acoustic. This relocation coincides with Bradford’s status as the ‘UK City of Culture in 2025,’ and the Competition provides an opportunity to share music made in Leeds and Bradford with a global audience of millions through multiple streaming services including medici.tv and the BBC. 

In addition to being the partner for the competition Finals, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra provides significant performance opportunities for the medallists. Moreover, they offer the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society prize for Contemporary Music, resulting in the commissioning of a new work for the competitor who best communicates contemporary music during the competition.

Offering medallists not only significant cash prizes and recognition but a major career launch, The Leeds’ pioneering prize package includes artist representation with Askonas Holt, a record deal with Warner Classics, tours with Steinway & Sons in South Korea and Europe, and prestigious concerts in the UK and beyond. There is also important career-development advice offered to all competitors in the Leeds’ innovative Competitor+ programme.

Recent Gold Medallists Alim Beisembayev (2021) and Eric Lu (2018) are now well-established international figures of classical music, joining illustrious past medallists such as Alessio Bax, Federico Colli, Sunwook Kim, Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia and Mitsuko Uchida.

New for 2024 is the introduction of the Alexandra Dariescu Award for an outstanding performance of a work by woman composer. Dariescu – the renowned Romanian pianist who also worked with The Leeds to create a Leeds education initiative called Count Me In! and who will co-present the Competition alongside main presenter Petroc Trelawny in 2024 – is known not just for her artistry, but also for championing inclusion and diversity and for achieving gender equality in her concerto programming. As part of this, The Leeds has increased the number of works by women in the Competition repertoire, including the addition of the Clara Schumann Concerto in A minor.

Tickets for the Second Round, Semi-Finals and Finals are available on the Leeds International Piano Competition website.