Sixty-five pianists aged between 20 and 29 and hailing from 18 countries are today announced as the participants for the First Round of The Leeds International Piano Competition, to take place in six centres around the world, in April 2024. The triennial event returns in September 2024 for its 21st edition.

The pianists were selected from a record number of applications, which saw 366 pianists aged 20-29 from 40 countries apply, a 39% increase compared with 2021.

For the first time the Competition implemented blind judging in the shortlisting process to select the pianists for the First Round in April 2024. The press release says: « Already recognised as a trailblazer among music competitions – and for having the highest artistic standards and integrity – the Competition introduced blind selection as a measure towards addressing a prevailing issue of male dominance in the piano world. » This year, 20 of the 65 competitors are female.

New for 2024 is the introduction of the Alexandra Dariescu Award for an outstanding performance of a work by woman composer. Dariescu – the renowned Romanian pianist who also worked with The Leeds to create a Leeds education initiative called Count Me In! and who will co-present the Competition in 2024 – is known not just for her artistry, but also for championing inclusion and diversity and for achieving gender equality in her concerto programming. As part of this, The Leeds has increased the number of works by women in the Competition repertoire, including the addition of the Clara Schumann Concerto in A minor.

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