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Follow The Leeds International Piano Competition Online

Medici.tv’s extensive coverage of The Leeds International Piano Competition 2018, relaying the full Competition experience including performances from every round to more than 180 countries, can be followed at leedspiano2018.medici.tv.

Audiences can enjoy the First Round performances of the 24 competitors who were selected from among 68 First Round pianists to go through to the next round in Leeds in September 2018. Their progress can then be followed through 8 days of free live webcasts of the final rounds in Leeds between 6 to 15 September. All performances will also be available on demand for three years.


April 3-12: First round
September 6-8: Second round
September 9-11: Semi-finals
September 14-15 Finals

Watch the competition archive and live stream here:

‘The Leeds’ and medici.tv will work together to deliver a rich digital experience on a dedicated new platform. As well as viewing every Competition performance for free, global audiences will also be able to experience the full atmosphere of the Competition through extensive behind-the-scenes coverage, interviews with the competitors and coverage of other events surrounding the Competition. Broadcaster Petroc Trelawny presents the live webcasts of the whole Competition and is joined by pianists Lucy Parham and former Leeds prize winner Noriko Ogawa for the Semis and Finals.

The new partnership will significantly extend the global reach of the Competition and bring the atmosphere and music-making of this most prestigious event to music lovers in more than 180 countries. It has been made possible thanks to the University of Leeds, a long-standing partner of The Leeds, which has extended its financial support to ensure that international audiences can experience everything that Competition has to offer.

In a major new development for both The Leeds and medici.tv, the global audience will be invited to vote online for the medici.tv Audience Award. This is the first time that worldwide audiences will be able to have a say at The Leeds. The international medici.tv vote will be verified and added to the vote from inside Leeds Town Hall and announced as part of the prize presentation which follows the second day of the Finals on Saturday 15 September. The winner of the inaugural medici.tv Audience Award will have a performance broadcast on medici.tv within the next three years.

Music communities around the world can also come together to follow news, blogs and interact on the newly-created medici.tv platform and via the hashtag #LeedsPiano on social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).

Global streaming is one of the key innovations that are rejuvenating The Leeds under the artistic leadership of Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse, and is a key pillar of their new vision for the much enhanced Competition.

Held once every three years, The Leeds is one of the world’s foremost music competitions. Since the first Competition in 1963, it has attracted the world’s finest young pianists, drawn by the opportunities offered by the outstanding prize package, the challenge of demanding repertoire, a stellar jury – and a warm welcome from the City of Leeds. The roll call of eminent past winners and finalists includes many of the world’s best-known pianists. The Competition’s 1972 winner Murray Perahia became Patron in June 2017. Lang Lang is Global Ambassador and Dame Fanny Waterman was appointed Life President and Founder Director Emeritus in 2015.

Paul Lewis, co-Artistic Director of The Leeds, says:
“The Leeds has introduced some outstanding pianists to the world over the past half century. Now, through the exceptional quality and reach of medici.tv’s webcasts, we can share the extraordinary music-making of the Competition in real time and to more people than ever before.”

Adam Gatehouse, co-Artistic Director of The Leeds, added:
“We are thrilled to be working with medici.tv and our Senior Partner the University of Leeds to hugely extend the Competition’s global reach and to share the Competition and the great city of Leeds with such diverse audiences in a new and exciting way. It is wonderful to be able to unite the global audience in voting to give one of our five Finalists the medici.tv Audience Award.”

Hervé Boissière, Founder & Managing Director of medici.tv:
“The Leeds has a long history of excellence and the Competition’s world-class laureates have appeared regularly on medici.tv over the past ten years. We’re thrilled to be able to help introduce the next generation of piano stars to music lovers around the globe and particularly excited to give fans worldwide the opportunity to engage with the Competition directly through the medici.tv Audience Award.”


International Piano – July/August 2018 Issue

A new issue of the magazine International Piano is out!

  • Mark Viner: dazzling but deep
  • Scandalous spirit: maverick virtuoso Henry Charles Litolff
  • French romantics: forgotten piano masterpieces from the 19th century
  • Jazz advance: Cecil Taylor’s groundbreaking dirty blues


Piano Street Gold members have instant online access to the digital version of the magazine.
For print subscription, visit rhinegold.co.uk


The ABRSM 2019 & 2020 Going for Variety

The new 2019 & 2020 piano syllabus along with Piano Exam Pieces (grades 1-8) was released June 7 and promises 100% refreshed repertoire.

It is evident that the ABRSM these days is very conscious of its position as the leading international exam board challenged by both Trinity College London and the London College of Music boards. Therefor they have to strike a balance between their classical teaching canon of well-known tunes, recent favorites and popular tunes, as well as new commissions.

Highlights this time are for example Close Every Door (Andrew Lloyd Webber) at Grade 1, Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) at Grade 3 and Lullaby (for Edna Trident Hornbryce), one of the new commissions by Raymond Yiu at Grade 8. Popular composers such as Pam Wedgwood and Christopher Norton are also represented among the exam pieces. Specially commissioned items feature on Grades 3, 4, 5 and 8, and there are contemporary options at all grades.

The pieces have been carefully selected to provide an attractive and varied range of music to perform in exams, concerts or anywhere else. The ABRSM hopes that a broader range of styles than ever before can be an excellent source of repertoire to suit every performer.

Recordings and Practice App

The supporting Piano Exam Pieces books are available to buy with or without CD, and audio downloads of individual pieces are also available to buy online. ABRSM’s Piano Practice Partner app has now been updated with pieces from the new syllabus.

Piano Practice Partner allows you to play along with real musicians’ performances, exactly as recorded or at a reduced tempo. You can practice one hand while the app plays the other. Piano Practice Partner comes with three free sample pieces from the new Piano Exam Pieces books. In-app purchases are then available for all grades of the new syllabus. The syllabus overlap period runs to 31 May 2019.

More info and orders:



Zlata Chochieva: As an artist, you have to be unique

Zlata Chochieva is a unique pianist of the highest calibre. From Salzburg, where she lives and teaches at the Mozarteum, she enchants music-lovers all over the world with her exceptional artistry, combining natural musical expression with outstanding and self-evident technical ability.

Pianist Zlata Chochieva

Photo: Vgeny Evtyukhov

Stephen Kovacevich called her ‘one of the most interesting and unconventional pianists of today’. She appears at many prestigious festivals, for example in Husum, Miami and Lucerne. This season, concert tours have taken her to the USA, Russia, England, Italy, Sweden, Mexico, Switzerland and Argentina.

Because Zlata was too young to be left at home alone, her mother took her along to her oldest brother Vadim’s piano lessons. She, too, wanted to play the piano – and her brother’s teacher, Nina Dolenko, was also sympathetic to the idea, although she had never worked with a four-year-old child before. A year later, Zlata was already appearing at small concerts in Dolenko’s class, and when she was eight she played for the first time with orchestra: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. When she was twelve, one of her recitals was broadcast by Russian television, and was praised by the press. When I remark that she must have been exceptional, she laughs: ‘Oh, Russia is full of talent, there it’s quite normal.’ She no longer remembers exactly what she played on that occasion, but promises to check on the recording that she still possesses; in any case she thinks she remembers it including something by Tchaikovsky, mazurkas by Scriabin and Rachmaninov’s Vocalise.


Zlata Chochieva participated in many competitions, particularly in order to gather experience of performing on stage. ‘Practising at home and the concert stage are two completely different worlds. At the Moscow Conservatory I had little opportunity to play in public, but it’s such an important thing. Competitions give you stage experience, also – above all –of playing with orchestra. In addition, competitions help you to master a large repertoire. That was a fundamental reason why I joined in. Later, though, I was no longer so happy to do so and couldn’t summon up the motivation to take part. As an artist, you have to be unique, you have to show your own face, find your own way, take risks and be allowed to be different – not average and predictable, as is expected of you in competitions.’
In this respect she was certainly supported by Mikhail Pletnev, her mentor for three years. ‘I was fourteen and it was incredible good fortune. For me, the three years of study with him were unforgettable. It’s so great to have the possibility to speak with such a great artist and extraordinary human being. There were just two of us studying in his class, and he was very demanding – for example we had to know about all types of music, orchestral works and opera. He advised us to be brave, to risk setting forth our own ideas as artists. For me this was a turning point: he treated us like artists, not like students. And therefore I felt that I could be myself; I felt free.’

Close Ties

Later she studied under Pavel Nersessian at the Moscow Conservatory and attended masterclasses with, for instance, Jacques Rouvier – who, after her second year, took her into his class at the Mozarteum and asked her to be his assistant. Today she lives in Salzburg, but spends a lot of time travelling. She still retains close ties to Moscow, where she was born and grew up, where she studied and where a lot of her friends still live. She also has close ties to Ossetia in the Caucasus because that’s where her parents come from. ‘I love it with all my heart, it’s small, interesting and very beautiful. Its culture isn’t Slavic at all; it’s more Oriental. We have our own roots, our own culture, history and language, which is derived from Sarmatian and Scythian, and our cuisine is very much out of the ordinary.’ Since 2005 she has been an Honourable Artist of the North Ossetia Republic.


She enjoys teaching. ‘Yes, it’s a great privilege to share experiences with younger people. I myself also learn a lot from it. It’s a shared experience; you build something together. The development of a student into an artist is a very interesting process. The moment arrives when you must forget everything you have learned, when you mustn’t remain rooted in your studies, when you know that you must fly, be yourself, and take everything as it comes.’


Photo: Theo Kwant

Time and Space

She has also issued a series of brilliant CDs – including a virtually definitive interpretation of Chopin’s Second Sonata in 2005, when she was just 20, and a colourful rendition of Pletnev’s piano transcriptions from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. She has also recorded a very idiomatic version of Schumann’s Humoreske, as well as extremely fine Scarlatti and a very exciting account of Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata – and, above all, Rachmaninov. Her recording of his complete Études-Tableaux was nominated for a Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, and the music critic Jeremy Nicholas in Gramophone said of her disc of the Chopin Études: ‘certainly one of the most consistently inspired, masterfully executed and beautiful-sounding versions I can recall.’ In addition, numerous concert programmes testify to her special affinity with Rachmaninov’s music, whom she also admires greatly as a person. ‘Yes, nobody else can match him.’ She can’t explain why this should be the case. He’s like ‘an explosion of nature’, unique in every respect. ‘In the case of other great pianists I can tell you exactly how they play something, and why. Of course it will never be the same twice, and it should never be an imitation, but at least you can reason out what’s going on. But with Rachmaninov – and, for that matter, with Horowitz – I can’t do that. Art comes from the cosmos and cannot be grasped by our human minds and psyches. Music, in fact art in general, gives us another perspective. It lets us fly, escape from human limitations, elevate ourselves into another dimension. You must avoid any form of routine or fixed notions of certain things.’
Is there perhaps a comparison with her experience as a pilot, with flying in the literal sense, when time and space acquire a new dimension? ‘Yes, I fly a lot as a passenger to my concerts, but in the cockpit it’s a wholly different matter. I perceive time and space in a different way; you could certainly compare that with being an artist. It has given me a strange feeling that the world is far more interesting and unknown than we realize. We know so little. I hope I’ll have the chance to fly again.’
Rachmaninov himself described a similar experience when driving a car: ‘When I conduct, I experience much the same feeling as when drive my car – an inner calm that gives me complete mastery of myself and of the forces, musical or mechanical, at my command.’

In the Moment

Another great passion is Mozart. Does she also admire the way Horowitz played Mozart? ‘Yes, it’s incredible, he’s one of my favourite performers. I was too young to hear him play live, but my father was at his Moscow concert.’
For her, Horowitz and Rachmaninov are essentially great musicians, not just great pianists. ‘Not that the piano is too limited – for me the piano is the most fantastic instrument of all, because it can sing but can also attain an orchestral fullness of sound. I like listening to orchestral music and opera best. Even as a child, I spent hours listening to recordings and couldn’t get enough of the sound of the orchestra. Sometimes I regret that I don’t play another instrument as well; I’d like to learn the violin, for instance. If you play Beethoven, you have to have a string quartet or an orchestra in your mind, and similarly you can’t understand Rachmaninov’s musical language without knowing his orchestral works, songs and choral music – or The Bells, one of my favourites.’
Are The Bells a sort of icon for Russia? ‘Yes, certainly; when I think of Russia, I always hear the bells of the Russian Orthodox church, and then tears come to my eyes – it’s a powerful emotion. Now I have a piano duo with Misha Dacić; I admire him greatly, he’s a fine artist, a musician from another world. He has made a transcription of The Bells for two pianos. We gave the première at the Ivanovka estate, where Rachmaninov wrote a lot of his works.’
Zlata Chochieva is also a great fan of jazz. ‘I’m in the process of discovering it; it’s another world. Sound, timing, it’s all different. It’s incredibly refreshing to play in other styles; even in classical repertoire it gives you more possibilities, because even though I have a well-defined concept of a piece, this changes in a flash the moment I go onstage. Music is born in the moment. The concert stage is exciting, full of risk, and what we achieve there is a mixture of what we have prepared intellectually and the spontaneity that inspiration gives us.’

Author: Eric Schoones

More about Zlata Chochieva: zlatachochieva.com

This article is a contribution from the German and Dutch magazine Pianist through Piano Street’s International Media Exchange Initiative and the Cremona Media Lounge.

Pianist_FC_LPianist Magazine is published in seven countries, in two different editions: in German (for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg and Liechtenstein) and in Dutch (for Holland and Belgium).
The magazine is for the amateur and professional alike, and offers a wide range of topics connected to the piano, with interviews, articles on piano manufacturers, music, technique, competitions, sheetmusic, cd’s, books, news on festivals, competitions, etc.
For a preview please check: www.pianist-magazin.de or www.pianistmagazine.nl


Comfort and Beauty – Rethinking the Piano Bench

Poised with a contemporary air and pure timeless beauty, the creations of piano bench designer and maker Mario Koch were conspicuously present at the Frankfurt Musikmesse 2018. Under the trademark MAKONI visitors were given a chance to indulge in a different world of the piano’s best friend and companion; the piano bench.


The whole thing actually started with Koch looking for a new waste system in one of his bathrooms. He found none that he liked and consequently created two designs himself. Friends liked the result and today the product named Hank & Eve is ready for series production and is offered under the MAKONI design brand. It was during a sabbatical that he took up piano playing again and found himself in the need of a piano bench. Mario had bought a used school piano from an old piano master builder in Augsburg. Its bench should therefore be special, unusual, modern and also an eye-catcher. After three months search he gave up. There was simply nothing to find in the market that suited his imagination. So, if you can’t find what you are looking for you’d better do it yourself is Koch’s motto – consequently it didn’t take long before the first piano bench designs were outlined and introduced.


We are truly enjoying your designs here in Frankfurt, which brings on the question why the piano bench market has remained so conservative over the years. When you sketch a new model, how do you balance functionality versus aesthetics?

I am always thinking about some main aspects. What looks good? What could be improved? What is my personal need and taste? The functionality has to fit with the aesthetics, that is very important. Sometimes I have a good idea for the design, maybe with some new aspects, but then I recognize that my idea did not fit to the technical requirements for the height adjustment for example. I feel so much inspiration, but I have learned that it is important to combine the right design with the right technique. At least I must like the result and the market will show me if I am right.

Tell me about your customers. Who buys your benchs and why?

Mostly people who like piano playing and design. Private persons cherish the design and quality. Furthermore, they are proud to have something unique. Traders are happy that they can offer a design furniture in front of an grand piano. There is a trend to customize also in the music market. Professional piano players appreciate the easy height adjustment and the silence of some models. No noise is disturbing during playing or recording a session. That is really important, because a bench noise on a tape can cost a lot of work and money. At the end of the day, buyers are persuaded of the comfort when sitting for a long time and the visible handmade quality.

Ergonomically, are there aspects which you must consider?

Yes, sure. For me it is very important, and I was frightened when I recognized the minimum quality of most piano bench seats. The upholstery mostly is to soft. You don’t get supported and you will feel the wood of the bench after only a few moments of playing. Because of the artificial material, you often sweat and get wet. Some of our models are flexible. The construction works like a suspension and takes the effort out of playing. You can sit and play longer with more power and without being exhausted from sitting. Of course, all our models have height adjustment, and some you can bring in an angle to relax your spine.


Tell me a little about your background because I know that you are a multiple discipline person.

Yes, that’s right, I didn’t go a straight way. After school I wanted to work and made an apprenticeship as organ builder. Five years later I wanted to go to school to have the possibility to study. So, in 1997 I received my master’s degree in interior architecture. I designed stores, exhibitions, houses, offices etc. and trade fair stands for more than 15 years all over the world. I worked for brands like Caterpillar, Swarovski, LOWA, KIA Motors, MAN and Mercedes Benz. Then I changed to a family owned company to restructure it and to bring it on a new way. Four years later I was successful, but the owner wanted to guide his company himself again and I had to go. That’s the story – one year later I founded my own company makoni.
When I was looking for an extraordinary piano-bench, I could not believe that nobody had thought about piano benchs for such a long time. I found my personal gap in the market.

Like a painter your works eventually create a whole gallery or an artistic universe so to speak. Where do you go for inspiration?

For recreation, I go into nature. Walking, running, cycling – then often a solution of a problem comes into my mind. But also, I am very open during life. It is an automatism that I see something and one second later I think – oh, that’s a good idea for a piano bench detail. For example my model No. 02 accento with the eccentric lever of the height adjustment – everybody knows it from cycling. You can say I work with bridges from other parts of life.


Are you trying to find ideas from the world of contemporary instrumental piano design where Bechstein’s latest futuristic grand piano, the Boganyi grand or Kawai’s glass grand comes instantly to my mind?

Actually, I don’t know where my ideas come from. I have the wonderful talent to produce ideas. I guess I get inspired by my environment and for sure I look at contemporary piano design. But my way is not to copy. I will add something new, something unique and that it is what happens in my mind: a new combination of things out of my environment, put together to a unique makoni design.


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