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Collaborative Musicians

In addition to giving solo recitals, Semi-Finalists demonstrate their collaborative skills in chamber music, performing with the Elias Quartet, Alexander Sitkovetsky and Bjørg Lewis. Finalists perform a concerto with the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner.

Alexander Sitkovetsky

Alexander Sitkovetsky was born into a family with a well-established musical tradition. He made his concerto debut at the age of eight and went on to study with the late Yehudi Menuhin.
Engagement highlights include the Netherlands Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Tonkünstler Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Camerata Salzburg, Wrocław Chamber Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra and recitals at the Phillips Collection Washington and Lincoln Center New York.
Sitkovetsky is a frequent guest soloist in nationwide tours of the UK, and has toured Australia extensively as guest director with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Founding member of the Sitkovetsky Piano Trio, with whom he has won various prizes including the Mecklenburg Vorpommern Kammermusik Prize. He has also been awarded 1st prize at the Trio di Trieste Duo Competition with pianist Wu Qian and is a recipient of the Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award.

Bjørg Lewis

Bjørg Lewis is one of Norway’s most esteemed cellists.  As a soloist, she played with the Oslo Philharmonic as well as many other orchestras throughout Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Baltics.
Bjørg is a founder member of the Vertavo String Quartet, an internationally-acclaimed ensemble, which has received numerous awards including Norway’s prestigious Grieg Prize.
A busy performance schedule takes Bjørg throughout Europe, North America and Japan. A regular participant in international chamber music festivals, Bjørg has also been invited to join the Nash Ensemble at the Wigmore Hall and on several tours in the past few years.
She was Artistic Director of the Elverum Festival in Norway from 2001- 2015 and has been Co-Artistic Director of Midsummer Music since its inception in 2009. She started a new chamber music festival with her string quartet in 2016, called Vertavofestivalen. It is held in various venues near to her hometown of Hokksund in Norway.

Elias String Quartet

The Elias String Quartet take their name from Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah, of which Elias is its German form, have quickly established themselves as one of the most intense and vibrant quartets of their generation. The Quartet was formed in 1998 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where they worked closely with the late Dr. Christopher Rowland. They also spent a year studying at the Hochschule in Cologne with the Alban Berg quartet. Other mentors in the Quartet’s studies include Peter Cropper, Hugh Maguire, György Kurtág, Gábor Takács-Nagy, Henri Dutilleux and Rainer Schmidt.
The Elias was chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists’ scheme and was also a recipient of a 2010 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. They have performed at some of the world’s most prestigious chamber venues, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Washington Library of Congress, the Vienna Musikverein, the Berlin Konzerthaus, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Wigmore Hall in London.  They recently returned to the US for a tour with Jonathan Biss, visiting Napa Valley, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Kansas City and New York, as well as further performances across Europe in Vienna, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Bonn, Venice and Padua. 


Now in its 159th season, the Hallé ranks among the UK’s top symphonic ensembles, with a distinguished history of acclaimed performances in this country and around the world; award-winning recordings, radio broadcasts and educational outreach programmes; and a visionary commitment to building audiences and developing orchestral repertoire.
The Hallé remains determined constantly to seek ways to enhance and refresh what it undertakes. They aspire to provide artistic leadership – through performance standards, artistic understanding and education and training, working with their partners in Manchester and beyond.
Their vision is to:
  • Lead not follow
  • Set new artistic standards and develop a reputation for them
  • Make a distinctive contribution to promoting Manchester as a significant European cultural centre
  • Strengthen their roots in the community
  • Engage with contemporary culture through embracing new work and vivid presentation
Their mission is to:
  • Produce an ambitious and wide-ranging programme of work both on and off the concert platform developing new audiences for the Hallé’s work as well as continuing to appeal to loyal long-term supporters
  • Act as a cultural ambassador for Manchester
  • Provide a comprehensive education and outreach programme firmly embedded in the Hallé’s core work to reach young people and other groups who may not otherwise have ready access to high quality musical experiences

Edward Gardner (conductor)

Chief Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic since October 2015, Edward Gardner has already led the orchestra on multiple international tours, including acclaimed performances in London, Berlin, Munich and Amsterdam and continuing his hugely successful relationship with Chandos Records.
In demand as a guest-conductor, the 2017/18 season will see Edward debut with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and return to the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. He will also continue his longstanding collaborations with the Philharmonia Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (where he was Principal Guest Conductor from 2010-16) and BBC Symphony Orchestra (whom he has conducted at both the First and Last Night of the BBC Proms).
Music Director of English National Opera for ten years (2006-15), Edward continues to work with the world’s major opera companies. He has ongoing relationships with La Scala and Opéra National de Paris, and with New York’s Metropolitan Opera where he has conducted productions of Carmen, Don Giovanni, Der Rosenkavalier and Werther. Future plans include a return to Dutch National Opera and his Royal Opera House Covent Garden debut.
9, 10 & 11 September, 2.00pm and 7.00pm
Great Hall, University of Leeds
Each of ten semi-finalists performs solo programmes and collaborates in chamber music.
14 & 15 September, 7.00pm
Leeds Town Hall
Five finalists perform across two days