Tonight [18 September], 23-year-old Alim Beisembayev from Kazakhstan won the 20th edition of the Leeds International Piano Competition, a triennial event which is widely regarded as among the most prestigious prizes in the musical world. In addition to First Prize, Alim Beisembayev also won the medici.tv Audience Prize, voted for by the public, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society Prize for performance of a 20th/21st century work. Beisembayev is the first prize-winner from Kazakhstan in the history of the Leeds International Piano Competition.

In addition to the £25,000 cash prize and The Waterman Gold Medal, Beisembayev receives a career-changing prize package which includes worldwide management with Askonas Holt, a recording contract with Warner Classics and a European tour organised with partners Steinway & SonsNext week Warner Classics will release an EP recording featuring a selection of his performances from the Competition.

As the winner, Beisembayev will be performing with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on 23 September and will also have future concert opportunities at Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre, amongst others. Beisembayev will also receive a personal consultation with Steinway & Sons Director of Concert and Artists Services and mentoring by members of the Jury and The Leeds team in addition to coaching in PR and social media by Premier PR.

Adam Gatehouse, Artistic Director of The Leeds, said:
“I’m absolutely thrilled that Alim Beisembayev has joined the illustrious team of prize-winners and alumni winning the First Prize of our 2021 Leeds International Piano Competition. From the very first note I heard him play, which happened to be the very first note of the pre-selection round back last November, he stood out for the extraordinary maturity, brilliance, musicality and versatility of his playing. He has continued to show those qualities throughout every round of this last ten days. I’m absolutely certain that Alim Beisembayev is destined for a very distinguished career.”

Imogen Cooper, Chair of the Jury, said:
“The last ten days have been a feast of glorious pianism – so inspiring to us all after these dark and silent months. The dedication, hard work, focus and composure we have witnessed have been remarkable – and the sheer talent has given us great hope for the future. Alim Beisembayev is an extraordinary pianist, he has all sorts of gifts. I was particularly impressed with the Ligeti studies he played in the Semi-Finals. They are some of the hardest ones out there and he played without any scores at all, it was breath-taking. He also played magnificently in the Final, playing with such aplomb, assurance and fabulous technique creating a beautiful sound. I think he’s a big star for the future and I’m very glad that he’s landed the First Prize.”

Second Prize and the Marion Thorpe Silver Medal was awarded to Kaito Kobayashi from Japan followed by Ariel Lanyi from Israel who received the Third Prize and the Roslyn Lyons Bronze Medal. Both are awarded cash prizes (£15,000 for second place and £10,000 for third place) in addition to recitals at the Liverpool Philharmonic’s Music Room next week (21 and 22 September) and Wigmore Hall. They will both also receive a personal consultation with Steinway & Sons Director of Concert and Artists Services and mentoring by members of the Jury and The Leeds team. Kaito Kobayashi was also awarded the Yaltah Menuhin Award for chamber music and will receive a performance opportunity with the Leeds International Chamber Series.

Fourth Prize was awarded to Dmytro Choni, Ukraine, and Thomas Kelly, UK received Fifth Prize.

Warner Classics have compiled a Leeds International Piano Competition playlist on Apple Music, which celebrates an impressive list of past competitors and winners including 2018 winner Eric Lu. Click here to listen to the playlist.

medici.tv’s extensive live-streaming of the final rounds from Leeds has been viewed over 1.3 million times from more than 140 countries and 6300 cities, with social media reach of over 2.5 million. Coverage from this year’s Competition will be available until September 2024. BBC Radio 3 broadcast the Finals live from Leeds Town Hall and also covered the Semi-Finals, and BBC Four will broadcast a 90-minute highlights documentary at a later date.

The next competition will take place in 2024. For more information about the Competition please visit www.leedspiano.com

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Alim Beisembayev (c) Nabin Maharjan/SoulandCo