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Learning & Engagement

Under the new artistic vision of Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse, The Leeds has a renewed focus on promoting The Piano to local, national and international audiences.

Learning and engagement is becoming a core fabric of the organisation, utilising the world-class music making of the main competition as a starting point to attract new generations of both audiences and participants.
We have recently announced a major new partnership with the Lang Lang International Music Foundation. The Leeds and the Lang Lang Foundation have a shared passion for educating, inspiring and motivating the next generation of pianists and classical music lovers and both organisations aim to support talented young pianists in their professional development.

As a first stage in our new partnership, three of the Lang Lang Young Scholars – exceptional young pianists from around the world, all personally selected and mentored by Lang Lang – will give a recital in Leeds as part of the Leeds Piano Festival. They will also be involved in learning and engagement work in the Leeds and Yorkshire area, as well as London in collaboration with Wigmore Hall’s Learning programme.
This and future partnerships will play a huge role in bringing the joy of the piano to an ever wider and more diverse audience.

If you would like to work with The Leeds, or find out more about our plans, please contact Jenny Rogers (Learning and Engagement Director).

jenny.rogers@leedspiano.com or by telephone on 0113 831 4106.

Schools – ‘Piano Fantasia – Discover the Piano’

On Monday 21 May, our ‘Piano Fantasia’ brought the wonder and excitement of the piano to life for 1,200 primary school children at Leeds Town Hall!

Working in collaboration with pianist and entertainer Will Pickvance, and three inspiring Scholars from the Lang Lang Music Foundation, we created a show which explored the tremendous history and variety of the piano – delving inside the piano, following its keyboard ancestry, meeting some of its most infamous composers, and experiencing some of its most iconic pieces along the way:

“The children enjoyed watching the different pianos being played and they were enlightened to find out about composers they had, surprisingly, never been exposed to before. The word search was a great touch too – the children were so excited when they heard the composer’s name and they had had some beforehand exposure to this from the simple activity” (Year 4 Teacher)

The show combined live performances from Will and the three Lang Lang Scholars, with beautiful animations and audience interaction – all held together by the story of a young boy who asks Father Christmas for a spaceship, but receives a piano instead!

“Absolutely brilliant. Such a well planned and well written show. Well done” (Year 4 Teacher)

Over two performances we welcomed 1,200 primary school children from Leeds and West Yorkshire, enhancing their experience with a free worksheet for all pupils and introductory music workshops in the lead-up to the performances.

With thanks to funding from Arts Council England and the Leeds Music Education Partnership, all schools were able to attend for free with travel bursaries available to cover transport costs:

“Thank you again for allowing us to share the experience, it was very much enjoyed by all” (Year 4 Teacher)

The ‘Piano Fantasia’ will be back at Leeds Town Hall in March 2019. Please contact Jenny Rogers (Learning and Engagement Director) to register your interest in being involved next year.

Be Curious 2018

On Saturday 17 March 2018, the University of Leeds opened their doors to showcase the diverse and innovative research and discoveries happening on campus to people from across Leeds and Yorkshire, and Leeds International Piano Competition was delighted to join them.

World’s Smallest Concert Hall

This September saw the World’s Smallest Concert Hall come to Leeds! LIPC worked with Leeds BID to bring music and piano activities to the visitors and residents of Leeds on the 11th – 14th September. In the very centre of the city in Victoria Gardens, outside the Leeds Art Gallery, we installed a shipping container complete with a baby grand piano!

There were live performances every day by members of our illustrious Jury, some of the top concert pianists in the world, as well as Competitors from the 2018 competition.

As well as hearing our competitors live, video performances from the Great Hall as Competitors perform in competition sessions were streamed live, as well as the first round performances!

Special sessions and activities took place in the Container, including music making activities for the very young for their first introduction to the piano through storytelling, an arts and craft workshop and piano taster lessons. All offered for free and all to celebrate and share the joy of the piano.

Come and discover more about this instrument, experience live performances and be part of the biggest and best Leeds International Piano Competition yet!

Musical Storytelling Session for Families

Made with Music and Leeds International Piano Competition introduced children to the piano for the very first time in an afternoon of free family music and fun. With storytelling, live piano and participatory musical play, this was a unique musical family experience for children aged 0-5. We told one of our favourite stories, The Bear and Piano, to the children and their best teddy bears!

Getting Creative – The Piano and Art

People spent the morning in the World’s Smallest Concert Hall getting creative! Inspired by beautiful piano music from this year’s competition and led by expert artist Miriam Laville, we gave people the opportunity to relax and enjoy making their own arts and crafts projects.

Manic Chord Theatre

Piano and Theatre

Manic Chord is a national touring theatre company based in Leeds, founded by Alex Monk, David Cartwright and Sam Berrill. The company began life as three individuals who had a shared curiosity about the world and met whilst studying at the University of Leeds.

Manic Chord Theatre presented an Introduction to This is Yesterday. This performance lecture come mini-concert gave insight into a brand new work exploring up to date Alzheimers research alongside re-imagined classical music.  The performance saw the deconstruction of the brain, a piano and Chopin’s Nocturne 48, no.1 in C minor in a conscious effort to understand the inner workings of the brain and the fundamentals of our identity.

Piano Taster Lessons

People of all ages and backgrounds joined us in the World’s Smallest Concert for free taster and refresher piano lessons with Liam Brigg. Those new to the piano were given an introduction to how the instrument works, and had the opportunity to learn the basic techniques required for piano playing. Liam is a composer, pianist and teacher who received his BA and MMus from Leeds College of Music. He is an experienced music teacher with a passion for getting everyone aged 6 – 106 playing and enjoying the piano.

Live Piano Performances

In 2018, for the first time, we threw open the doors of the competition to people across Leeds with live performances in the World’s Smallest Concert Hall. At breakfast, lunchtime and after work, Competitors and jury members performed mini recitals in a fun, accessible and informal atmosphere.


Curious about the piano and want to know more? Our brand new events programme Piano + opens up the lid, dusts off the keys, and offers everyone a host of ways to get closer to the instrument, its music and its people. Whether you’re seven or seventy, experienced in music or an absolute beginner, leave your expectations behind and come and join in. You will be informed and entertained, enlightened and – we hope – amazed!

Talks and Conversations

Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, School of Music
University of Leeds, LS2 9DA

Five sessions bringing new perspectives to the piano, its music and its people.

Welcome to The Leeds 2018. Bringing the repertoire to life!

Across two days, pianist and broadcaster David Owen Norris takes an informal look at the competition repertoire, tells some of its stories, and illustrates the most fascinating moments at the piano.

Psychology of performance and competition

Performance coach and pianist Charlotte Tomlinson shares the secrets of her pioneering work. Her approach enables musicians to find freedom and a sense of wellbeing in practising, and to achieve their peak in performance.

A pianist’s life

Pianists and Jury members Paul Lewis and Imogen Cooper talk to presenter and broadcaster Petroc Trelawny about the trials and tribulations of a solo pianist’s career, and the importance of collaboration.

The piano and me

Petroc Trelawny chairs an entertaining session in which celebrity pianists Ed Balls, Alistair McGowan, and Sophie Raworth what playing the piano means to them and how it helps them in their busy ‘other’ lives.

On playing Mozart

One of the greatest pianists of our time, and a supreme interpreter of the music of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, Alfred Brendel brings his unique perspective to how he approaches playing Mozart.


Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, School of Music
University of Leeds, LS2 9DA

Jury members work with competitors on Competition repertoire.

Sa Chen was prizewinner at The Leeds in 1996, at the Chopin Competition in 2000, and winner of the Crystal Award in the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, making her the only pianist in history to be awarded prizes in all three major piano competitions.

Shai Wosner is a pianist whose virtuosity, musical integrity and intellectual curiosity have established him as a favourite with audiences and critics worldwide.

Lars Vogt, Leeds Prizewinner in 1990, has an enviably eclectic repertoire ranging from the classics to the dazzling Lutoslawski concerto. Now conducting too, Lars is Music Director of Royal Northern Sinfonia at Sage, Gateshead.

Henning Kraggerud, violinist and jury member, presents a masterclass with a twist, inviting participants and audience to question all pre-judgments about what makes a musician tick. Expect something different!

Imogen Cooper CBE is regarded as one of the finest interpreters of classical and romantic repertoire. She is particularly admired as a musical colourist, and for her expressive use of characterisation.

Paul Lewis CBE, Chair of the 2018 Jury and co-Artistic Director of the Leeds International Piano Competition, is known as one of the leading musicians of his generation.

Historic Keyboard Instruments: The Cobbe Collection

Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, Parkinson Court
University of Leeds, LS2 9JT

Imagine seeing and hearing the actual pianos owned and played by Haydn and Chopin… These are just two examples of the several remarkable instruments you will have the opportunity to experience at The Leeds this year.

These unique instruments are part of the Cobbe Collection, the largest group assembled anywhere of tangible and audible links with the musical minds of the past.

All are maintained in playing order, allowing us to hear the actual sounds that inspired musicians for centuries.

The Collection is based at Hatchlands in Surrey, and its owner, Alec Cobbe, has carefully selected a group of instruments to bring up for us to enjoy at The Leeds. Alec is the expert musical guide on the hour-long tour.