Hitting the right notes

From a city centre musical trail to creating the world’s smallest concert hall, Leeds celebrates the piano like never before.

Hands-on painting of the first piano for the Leeds Piano Trail by Year 8 pupils from Blenheim Primary School, working alongside artist educator John Mayson.


Leeds is tuning up to celebrate the piano in style as the city gets ready to host an orchestra of events in conjunction with the Leeds International Piano Competition.


The Competition returns to the city this September and to mark the occasion, an innovative packed programme of piano-themed activities has been planned for audiences across the city to take part in and enjoy.


The Leeds, as it is known, is one of the world’s foremost music competitions, held in the city every three years and attracting the world’s finest young pianists. For 2018 the competition has spread its wings with First Rounds held in Berlin, New York and Singapore, while more locally, the first annual Leeds Piano Festival took place in Leeds, and London, in May.


A host of talks, masterclasses, exhibitions, free family events and concerts have been added to the Competition, as well as a range of opportunities for the people of Leeds and beyond to get involved.



In the run-up to this year’s finals taking place in the city from 6th-15th September 2018, The Competition, working in collaboration with Leeds Business Improvement District (LeedsBID), is opening its arms to the people of Leeds with the Leeds Piano Trail: twelve beautifully decorated pianos stationed in iconic locations across the city centre from 17th August-16th September.


These will be available for the public to play and will host 'mini recitals' by local music students and pianists, and see pop-up performances by Competition alumni, competitors and celebrity guests to spark the interest and imagination of the millions of visitors, residents and workers who can visit, hear and play the pianos this summer. A specially produced map and accompanying web app will be available for members of the public to follow the trail.


The pianos, supplied by Leeds-based Besbrode Pianos, are each being striking decorated by local artists, art students, schoolchildren and community groups before the pianos make their journey out to various city centre locations. Blenheim Primary School and Leeds Dads are among those groups who have already brought pianos to life with individual designs and members of the public can see these works of art take shape at the piano painting studio housed in an empty unit in the St John’s Centre up until Friday 17th August.

Classic FM, the UK’s most popular classical music station, is media partner for the Leeds Piano Trail and will broadcast its popular More Music Breakfast show, presented by Tim Lihoreau, from its studios in Leeds on Friday 14th September.


The World's Smallest Concert Hall is also coming to Leeds city centre – a specially-fitted shipping container, located in Victoria Gardens in the vicinity of Leeds Town Hall in finals week from 10th-14th September. It will play host to an engaging daily programme of free events including 10-minute recitals by competitors and jury members, taster piano lessons, and talks and educational activities for local community groups. The installation, provided by LeedsBID, will also enable passers-by to learn more about the Competition, pick up Leeds Piano Trail maps, watch footage from the Competition's past and present, and generally engage with the world-famous event in a new way.


In addition, The Leeds has launched Piano+, designed to offer a new layer of entertainment and insight to music lovers and Competition audiences, includes masterclasses, talks and insight events with the world-famous pianists of the distinguished Competition Jury. There will also be conversations and events with other eminent musicians and piano-loving celebrities, including former MP for Morley and Outwood Ed Balls and Alistair McGowan.


All Piano+ events are hosted by the Leeds International Piano Competition’s principal partner, the University of Leeds, with its beautifully-restored Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall hosting the numerous masterclasses, talks and conversations, while its Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery is the venue for an exhibition of remarkable historic pianos – including those owned and played by Chopin and Haydn – from the Cobbe Collection, brought to Leeds especially for the Competition.


Adam Gatehouse, Leeds International Piano Competition Co-Artistic Director said:

“We are thrilled to be finding such exciting new ways of connecting the Competition to the City of Leeds, its residents and visitors as well as the wider Yorkshire community. We want to celebrate and champion the piano by creating accessible and innovative piano-centred activities, events and programmes and share our passion for the piano engagingly and imaginatively with the widest possible audience. We also want everyone to have fun in the process. In so doing we are providing a much-enhanced experience for audiences and competitors in Leeds, as well as reaching out to the world with a global First Round on three continents, international broadcasting and worldwide concert engagements. And last but not least we are also looking forward to sharing this great city with the world.” 


Andrew Cooper, LeedsBID Chief Executive, added:

LeedsBID is delighted to be helping celebrate the city as the home of this most prestigious international competition while animating places and spaces with piano-themed events and activities to extend its appeal and accessibility to new audiences.”


“LeedsBID’s investment in enhancing high profile city events such as the Leeds International Piano Competition brings together business with cultural and creative organisations to make exciting things happen and puts Leeds firmly on the international map.”


Details of free events as part of the Piano Trail and in the World’s Smallest Concert Hall

will be announced over the coming weeks.


Ticketed public events and activities are on sale at leedspiano.com

leedspiano.com @leedspiano


For further press information and media photo and interview opportunities, please contact:


Sarah Towns: sarah.towns@leedsbid.co.uk / 0113 467 2780


Victoria Bevan: victoria@albion-media.com / 020 3077 4947