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We talked with the winner of the 2015 Competition, Anna Tsybuleva, about her life, The Leeds, and her advice for the 2018 competitors.

How did you choose the piano?

When I was 6 years old, my mother put me into a music school and became my first teacher. I was learning to play the piano and violin, but after two years I decided to just play the piano. It sounded more interesting for me and I found there were more creative possibilities.

Why do you think competitions are so important?

I think they are very important! It is always a great opportunity to improve yourself as a concert pianist because you get the opportunity to play in front of people in every round. But to make it really useful for your musical development, pianists’ aims should always be above being competitive or just pleasing the judges. Only music can guide you to the best result.

Why did you choose to enter The Leeds?

I chose this competition because of the very interesting programme requirements and rules, which would allow me to show my musical personality. The Competition has a reputation for having past winners that are the brightest musicians in the world! They all gave a unique direction to The Leeds. It is just a real pleasure to follow them.

How did you choose your pieces for the Competition?

I wanted to choose a repertoire that combined fresh, rarely played music and famous pieces. I still choose my repertoire like this. This competition gives you the chance to show your best sides, show your versatility and be brave!

How has your life changed since winning The Leeds?

My musical life has changed completely. I have had the opportunity to play in many countries with some of the best orchestras in the world. I am very grateful to The Leeds for giving me these opportunities, because you cannot develop a musical personality without experience.

Do you have any advice for the 2018 applicants?

Be yourself, it’s really possible in The Leeds. Let the music guide you and it will bring joy to you and the audience.

What do you think of the city of Leeds?

I like Leeds very much. Ideal city to have a musical competition in it, very calm and cosy, as it seemed to me… I am always happy to come back! Now I have many friends there, we meet, remember some moments of the Competition, and sometimes eat fish and chips together.

I especially love the Town Hall.

Now that you’re travelling a lot for work, how do you balance work life with home life?

I had to change my lifestyle after The Leeds. I used to think I spent a lot of time practicing the piano, but now I practice even more. To keep myself in good physical and mental shape I try to do sport and meditations every day. Now that I’m married, I have to find a good balance between being a musician, a good person, family member and a good wife.

To learn more about Anna Tsybuleva and her upcoming concerts, visit http://www.annatsybuleva.com/