The Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition has evolved from its earliest days as part of Hastings Music Festival to become an internationally-renowned competition for young concert pianists from around the world, attracting 170 applicants in 2019 across global auditions, 40 of which came to compete in Hastings. Their prize: the opportunity to perform with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on our two-night final and to win a first prize of £15,000.
The inaugural Hastings International Piano Festival took place in February/March 2020 as the concerto competition moves to every other year.
Hastings International Piano Festival was curated to raise funds for both our planned programme of educational outreach opportunities for children and young people in Hastings, Rye and the East Sussex surrounding area and our globally respected International Piano Concerto Competition. The piano festival was a multi-genre celebration of the piano involving pop, classical, jazz and contemporary musicians and singer/songwriters, and produced world class concerts while maintaining a focus on engaging with and giving learning opportunities to young people in the south coast Sussex region during the festival 2 week period.
The festival offered free tickets, workshops and music making masterclasses for children and young people, whilst maintaining a programme of headline performances. The festival aims to raise funds for The Piano Concerto Competition will return in February/March 2022, with the website open for entries in Spring 2020.
History of the Competition
The celebrated Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition has its roots in a history going back more than 100 years. Piano Classes for both Juniors and Seniors have been a part of the Hastings Musical Festival from its very early days, and it is recorded that a 13-year-old Ronald Smith, later renowned as the supreme interpreter of Alkan, won the concerto class as early as 1935 with a brilliant rendition of the first movement of Beethoven’s concerto no. 2 in Bb Major. In 1946 a Bexhill schoolboy named Philip Ledger won the Under 9 Pianoforte class. He went on to win the Senior Concerto class at the age of 18 in 1955, and among his many professional distinctions, was Director of Music at King’s College Cambridge from 1964-1982 and well known to us all from BBC television’s “Carols at King’s”.
Sadly, by the early 1990s the concerto class had become so diminished as to disappear altogether, until in 2005 and thanks to the inspiration of another alumnus of the HMF, Jonathan Marten, and the hard work of a hastily assembled Piano Concerto sub-committee, the competition was revived under its new name of Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition.