Leeds Piano Competition names new artistic directors

Martin Cullingford Wed 19th August 2015

Pianist Paul Lewis and BBC Radio 3 Senior Editor Adam Gatehouse to succeed Dame Fanny Waterman at helm of prestigious competition

The Leeds Piano Competition, one of the most prestigious competitions in its field, has announced its new artistic directors as pianist Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse, senior editor at BBC Radio 3 and founder of the influential BBC New Generation Artists scheme.

This year’s competition will be the last one under the leadership of Dame Fanny Waterman, chairman and artistic director, and founder of the event back in 1961, who is retiring aged 95. First-prize winners of the competition, which takes place every three years, have included Murray Perahia, Radu Lupu, Artur Pizarro and Alessio Bax, while Sir András Schiff, Peter Donohoe and Dame Mitsuko Uchida have all been finalists.

Lewis is the recipient of multiple accolades from Gramophone, including Recording of the Year in 2008 for the fourth volume of his Beethoven sonatas series, released on Harmonia Mundi. Gatehouse’s role in launching the BBC New Generation Artists scheme – whose alumni include pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, trumpeter Alison Balsom, the Belcea Quartet and, indeed, Paul Lewis himself – well places him to help discover the next generation of keyboard greats. 

The new joint artistic directors will be responsible for selecting both the competitors and jury members, and will also, as a statement issued by the Competition puts it, aim ‘to develop the competition’s connectivity with both the city of Leeds as well as its wider national and international audiences through an enriched programme of events and the use of digital technology.’ 

'Following in the footsteps of that diminutive giant of the musical world Dame Fanny Waterman is a daunting challenge, and I hope that together we can maintain and build on the awesome international reputation and artistic integrity she has brought to this wonderful competition,’ said Gatehouse. 

Also paying tribute to Waterman, Lewis added: ‘Dame Fanny’s astonishing achievement over more than half a century stands as one of the great landmarks of the music world…To be entrusted with preserving and building on the remarkable legacy of this most distinguished of piano competitions is a great honour.'

The 2015 Competition opens on August 26, concluding with the final stages on September 11 and 12 with the Hallé Orchestra under conductor Sir Mark Elder at Leeds Town Hall, and a winner’s Gala recital on 13 September.

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