Aung San Suu Kyi becomes Honorary Ambassador for Leeds International Piano Competition

Aung San Suu Kyi becomes Honorary Ambassador for Leeds International Piano Competition (RJ)

As Leeds gears up for its International Piano Competition, which takes place later this year from 29th August 29th to 16th September, it has learned that Aung San Suu Kyi has agreed to become the Honorary Ambassador for this prestigious event.

The Burmese opposition leader is a keen amateur pianist and playing music on her upright Yamaha while under house arrest undoubtedly helped to lift her spirits and give her the strength to carry on.

“In this, our special golden anniversary year, this is the greatest honour our piano competition has ever received,” says the Competition’s Chairman and Artistic Director Dame Fanny Waterman. She announced that the top prize will be named the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Gold Medal “in recognition of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s inspiration, courage and hope for humanity and her appreciation of piano playing”.

British Prime Minister David Cameron commented: “The Leeds International Piano Competition is one of the great classical music competitions in the world. It’s a tremendous advert for Leeds and for Britain as a whole. Aung San Suu Kyi’s appreciation of piano playing is well known. So it is fantastic that the competition has made this tribute to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and it is a fitting way to end her brilliant and historic visit to Britain.”

This will be the 17th Leeds International Piano Competition, which was founded in 1963 by Dame Fanny, her late husband Dr Geoffrey de Keyser and Marion Thorpe CBE. Held every three years it is regarded in musical circles as the greatest piano competition in the world ,and over the past half century has launched the careers of some of the world’s most eminent pianists. Past winners include Murray Perahia, Radu Lupu, Andras Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida, Lars Vogt, Louis Lortie and Artur Pizarro.

Arthur Pizarro, in fact, is a member of this year’s distinguished international jury with pianists Christan Ortiz and João Carlos Martins (Brazil), Robert MacDonald and Robert Levin (USA, John O’ Connor (Ireland), Pascal Rogé (France), Pavel Gililov (Russia), Bao Huiqiao (China), Daejin Kim and Soo Jung Shin(Korea), arts administrator John Roos (South Africa), BBC Producer Adam Gatehouse and the distinguished teacher and pianist Christopher Elton (both UK).

This year more than 270 entries were submitted, from which 80 pianists from over 20 countries have been selected to compete in front of the jury. Six finalists will perform with the Hallé, conducted by Sir Mark Elder, at Leeds Town Hall on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th September 2012, and the winner will receive an £18,000 cash prize donated by the Liz and Terry Bramall Charitable Trust and range of prestigious engagements with leading UK and international orchestras.

Roger Jones