Aung San Suu Kyi becomes honorary ambassador for Leeds Piano Competition

Competition's top prize to be named after the Burmese opposition leader

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Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has become honorary ambassador for the Leeds International Piano Competition, and the competition's top prize will be named after her, to become the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Gold Medlal.

The Burmese politician is an amateur pianist and during the 15 years she spent under house arrest in Burma she would often play – on one occasion so fiercely that she broke some of the piano's strings.

Dame Fanny Waterman, chairman and artistic director of the competition said: 'this is the greatest honour our piano competition has ever received.'

Prime Minister David Cameron said: 'Aung San Suu Kyi’s appreciation of piano playing is well known. So it is fantastic that the competition has made this tribute to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. And it is a fitting way to end her brilliant and historic visit to Britain'.

Former prize winners of the Leeds International Piano Competition have included Murray Perahia, András Schiff and Mitsuko Uchida, and have spanned 28 different countries.

The 17th edition of the competition will take place 29 August-16 September 2012. More than 270 pianists entered, from which 80 have been selected to compete in front of an international jury.

Six finalists will perform with the Hallé, conducted by Sir Mark Elder, at Leeds Town Hall on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 September 2012. There will also be coverage of the competition on Radio 3.

Cecilia Stinton