Por Sarah Mills
LONDON, Apr 7 (Reuters) – In a room at London’s Royal Academy of Music, pianist Yuanfan Yang performed pieces by Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt and Joseph Haydn with just one cameraman in the audience.
The 24-year-old participates in the Leeds International Piano Competition, hoping to win over a jury who will see his performance on video.
Held every three years, The Leeds has had to change its processes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with no jury or live audience to watch pianists compete for a prize package that can jump-start a career.
“I thought it might be a bit challenging at first, but once I started playing, I forgot about everything,” said the Edinburgh-born musician. “It was literally just me and the music,” he added.
With travel restrictions in place, The Leeds invited some 60 competitors from around the world to their first virtual round held in 17 different cities.
From one competitor in Miami to 14 in Berlin, everyone has given their 25-minute concert under the same conditions: playing a Steinway Model D grand piano and with identical chamber setups.
“We realized very quickly that we couldn’t do it the way we would love to do it … with an audience and jury present,” Adam Gatehouse, artistic director of The Leeds, told Reuters.
“Clearly we were not going to be able to make a jury travel from London to Berlin anywhere in the world, so we will watch the videos online at home and evaluate them that way,” he added.
Held for the first time in 1963, The Leeds offers its winner a recording and performance contract, concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall and international tours.
While the first round is virtual, the organizers plan to hold the second round, the semi-final and the final in September in Leeds, in the north of England, with a live audience.
(Reporting by Sarah Mills; additional reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; written by Marie-Louise Gumuchian. Editing table in Spanish +54 911 6358 6434. Twitter: @ReutersLatam)