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The world-renowned Leeds International Piano Competition has returned to the city, defying the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver its biggest-ever competition and associated city centre programme of events.

The competition is back, with a two week festival planned in its home city before the culmination of the competition is held over the weekend of 17th-18th September.

As part of the Free Public Piano Trail taking over the city centre, the team behind Edinburgh’s Pianodrome (the UK’s first ampitheatre made entirely from upcycled pianos) have revealed a series of new sculptures. The Leeds Piano Trail is bringing music back to every street corner, launching an engaging and interactive programme of events and activities.

Developed in partnership with LeedsBID (Leeds Business Improvement District), the world-famous competition is bringing its passion out of the concert hall and onto the streets for everyone to enjoy and explore the piano and the city centre.

The two-week festival running until 19th September showcases a unique series of installations featuring sculptures made entirely from up-cycled pianos, created by critically acclaimed artists’ collective Pianodrome, to discover alongside instruments transformed by local- based artists and community groups.

Pianos appear to rise out of Briggate while others take the form of shapes, have been transformed into an allotment shed or incorporate lights and abstract objects.

Animating the streets in prominent locations from Leeds Station to Trinity Leeds, Victoria Quarter and Kirkgate Market to Merrion Street Gardens and the University of Leeds, the Leeds Piano Trail provides a catalyst for residents, families and visitors to come together once again, returning to the cultural hub of West Yorkshire.

With opportunities for everyone to get involved with everything from learn to play in a day to lullaby baby yoga sessions to Pianosaurus piano sessions linking in the city’s family friendly Leeds Jurassic Trail 2, the trail aims to connect communities and ignite a passion for music along the way.

‘Growing Stronger Together’ forms a central theme throughout the trail, tackling topics of climate change, mental health wellbeing and community through the involvement of local organisations such as Leeds Allotment Federation, Leeds Citizens and Leeds Minds Inkwell Arts putting their own mark on the pianos.

The Leeds International Piano Competition enters its final stages from 8th September, with two days for the second rounds then the semi-finals, both held at principal partner the University of Leeds’ Great Hall, before the winner is announced at the finals on 17th-18th held at Leeds Town Hall.

The 22 pianists who have made it to the second round are from 19 countries across the world, including the UK, Peru and South Korea. The international travel ban compelled LIPC organisers to rapidly switch the first round in January to online performances only. But the use of digital technology had the benefit of being able to include many more locations than usual around the world, extending the opportunity to more young pianists: 17 cities - from London to Ljubljana - hosted online auditions compared to only three in the original plan.

Locations, Pianos and Sculptures:

Briggate / Victoria Quarter: Piano - Climate Stripes by Alison Smith; Sculpture – ‘Floating Pianos’
Cookridge Street: Piano - An Elephant Never Forgets’ by Rosie Vohra; Sculpture - ‘The Elephant in
the Room’
Kirkgate Market: Piano by John Mayson; Sculpture ‘Nose to Tail Carpentry’
Leeds Playhouse Gardens: Piano by Leeds Allotment Federation; Sculpture - ‘Piano Meant-A-Lot’
Leeds Train Station: Piano by Getaway Girls; Sculpture – ‘Half Piano Cube’
Leeds Trinity: Piano - The Apotropiano by Lucy Wright; Sculpture - ‘Full Cube’
Mandela Gardens: Piano by Leeds Citizens; Sculpture - ‘Power to the People’
Merrion Street Rest Gardens: Piano by Heydays; Sculpture – ‘ The Sound of Silence’
Merrion Street Upper Gardens: Piano by Leeds Mind Inkwell Arts; Sculpture – ‘Deep Listening'
University of Leeds (LUU): Piano by Colin Frank; Sculpture – ‘Pianola Nova - Pianola 1’

For more information about the Leeds International Piano Competition, click here.

For more Leeds TV features, click here.

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