Leeds International Piano Competition announces 2021 finalists, with first British pianist in 20 years making the final

The Leeds final is set to take place this weekend with a line-up of international soloists, ranging in age from 22 to 28

Leeds International Piano Competition finalists (c) Nabin MaharjanSoulandCo

The Leeds International Piano Competition has announced the finalists of this year’s competition, with pianists from the UK, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Japan and Israel in the running for the top prize this weekend. Thomas Kelly becomes the first British pianist to make the Leeds final in over 20 years, since Ashley Wass came fifth in the 2000 competition. He went on to become a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist later that year and is now the director of music at the Yehudi Menuhin School.

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The programmes chosen by this year’s semi-finalists were hugely varied, with traditional competition repertoire played alongside more technically complex, contemporary works. Thomas Adès’s Three Mazurkas, for instance, was chosen by two pianists: Thomas Kelly and Dmytro Choni. Each semi-finalist performed solo repertoire alongside a chamber work, for which they were accompanied by other other musicians.

For the finals, the pianists will be invited to perform a concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Andrew Manze at Leeds Town Hall.

You can catch up on all the finalists’ performances by clicking on the links below.

Alim Beisembayev (22, Kazakhstan)

Dmytro Choni (27, Ukraine)

Thomas Kelly (22, United Kingdom)

Kaito Kobayashi (25, Japan)

Ariel Lanyi (23, Israel)

With the early stages of the competition taking place in more cities than ever before, pianists from more 18 countries were invited to Leeds to take place in the first round. Despite a more equal gender balance earlier in the competition, this year’s final is an all-male line-up. Only two female pianists have ever won First Prize at the competition’s 58-year history.

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Find out how to watch the finals of this year’s Leeds International Piano Competition here, with more information on all this year’s competitors.