Featuring performance from star of Channel 4’s “The Piano,” Lucy Illingworth

Today on World Piano Day, Leeds Civic Trust unveils a blue plaque to commemorate the life of legendary Leeds pianist, teacher and competition co-founder Dame Fanny Waterman (1920-2020).

The Leeds piano teacher is remembered for co-founding the Leeds International Piano Competition, which is one of the world’s most revered contests for pianists, and her series of educational piano books, co-authored with Marion Thorpe, Countess of Harewood. The books have sold more than two million copies, introducing generations of children to the instrument.

The blue plaque was unveiled today at the Carriageworks as part of Leeds International Piano Competitions musical show for Leeds primary schoolchildren, ‘Count Me In,’ featuring pianist Alexandra Dariescu and presenter Tim Redmond. It also featured a performance by special guest Lucy Illingworth, star of the Channel 4 programme “The Piano”.

Lucy Illingworth is a Yorkshire-born pianist who rose to fame as a contestant on the popular reality TV show, featuring judges Lang Lang and Mika, and presented by Claudia Winkleman. Her exceptional talent and captivating performances made her a fan favourite and she received a standing ovation and was named ‘the performance of the evening’ when she played at the finale in the Royal Festival Hall, London, in front of an audience of thousands. She will perform at the Carriageworks with her teacher, Daniel Bath, by her side. Daniel met Lucy when she was 3 years old through the Amber Trust, a charity which provides musical opportunities for blind and partially-sighted children and his work has highlighted the important role that music can play in promoting social inclusion and accessibility for all.

The blue plaque is the first in Leeds to be cast in braille and will be placed on the entrance to the iconic Leeds Town Hall, where Competitions have been held since 1963. It reads:

Dame Fanny Waterman
Renowned piano teacher and co-founder of the Leeds International Piano Competition, which has been held here since 1963.

What greater and more touching pleasure is there in life than giving a young and beautiful talent, a little lift in the direction, (only, for we can never reach them) of the stars?

Fiona Sinclair, Chief Executive of the Competition said:

The dedication of a blue plaque in honour of Dame Fanny Waterman is a fitting tribute to her remarkable legacy. Her tireless dedication to music education, her commitment to promoting the talents of young pianists, and her love for her city have all left an indelible mark on the world of classical music and on the city of Leeds. She was a passionate advocate for the importance of music in children’s lives and we are proud to show that this spirit lives on in this generation of Yorkshire musicians through Lucy. The joy she shares through her music will undoubtedly inspire all the schoolchildren who will hear her on World Piano Day and beyond.

The Leeds International Piano Competition’s principal partner is the University of Leeds and it delivers an annual programme of events and projects for communities and schools, including the Royal Philharmonic Society Award-winning Leeds Piano Trail. 1.84m people will engage with the public pianos in Leeds 2023 Year of Culture, and the Competition is offering free piano lessons all weekend on the Leeds Piano Trail 1-2 April, to celebrate Piano Week – see www.leedspiano.com to book a place.

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