Amazing young talent in contest

The annual Norah Sande Award for young adult pianists has brought many rising stars to Eastbourne.

The 2016 semi-finals took place throughout Saturday July 9; and there was high excitement as the chosen three finalists prepared to perform their programmes at the Birley Centre on the afternoon of Sunday the 10th.

As usual, Artistic Director Spencer Freeman, MBE, introduced the competitors.

Daniel Evans (born in Bristol in 1994) had already won the Oxford International Piano Competition. He offered us Sonatas by Mozart and Scriabin, a Debussy Prelude, and an astonishing Study by Ligeti, which set up such a resonance one thought the Steinway might be about to breathe its last. His command of the keyboard was never in doubt; clear evidence that the Adjudicators (Timothy Barratt, Ruth Gerald and Chairman David Patrick) had selected well.

Luka Okros (born in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1991) had already performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall and had won numerous awards, including the Iturbi Prize in Spain and the Tabor at Verbier in Switzerland. Like the brilliant Dinara Klinton who won the Norah Sande a couple of years ago, he has performed live on BBC Radio Three. He calmed us all with his sensitive interpretation of Schumann’s Kinderscenen, followed with Taktakishvili’s Poem, and ended his recital with the Sixth of Liszt’s Paganini Studies.

Andrew Yiangou (24 years old from London) has performed the Grieg Concerto with the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra, and is set to play it again with the Dorking Philharmonia. In a week or so he will play the Rachmaninoff 2nd in Bedford. His recital introduced us to a Prelude by Kapustin, after which he gave fluent and commanding interpretations of Ravel’s taxing Gaspard De La Nuit and of Liszt’s dazzling Mephisto Waltz No.1.

After a welcome tea-break, the Chairman of the Judges spoke highly of all three competitors, and announced that Luka Okros had won, followed by Daniel Evans and Andrew Yiangou. In my view all three had further enriched the musical life of our town, and will go on to great things. By Robin Gregory.