The last of the solo Section Finals of this year's Annual Music Competition took place yesterday evening. A capacity crowd filled the Princess Alexandra Hall to listen to four talented young pianists compete for the Keyboard Section prize of £5,000 and a chance to compete at the Gold Medal Final at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 30 May. 

Led out by Welshman Luke Jones, his programme of Debussy and Medtner started the competition off with a bang. 

Second to take to the stage was Australia's Kathy Chow with a programme of Rachmaninov and Bartok. Each performer chose repertoire that best showed off their skills at the keys. 

After the interval, Syrian British pianist Riyad Nicolas was next up, who chose to perform works by Bach, Scriabin, and Liszt. 

Rounding out the evening's performers was Australian Joseph Havlat, who used his 20-minute slot to perform a programme of Dohnányi, Byrd, and Grainger.

After an hour and 20 minutes of wonderful music making, it was the turn of the judging panel to put the work as they retired to consider their verdict. Adjudicators Martin Cousin, Geoff Parkin, Hiroaki Takenouchi, and Tessa Uys had a difficult decision choosing the performer for the sought after-place in the Grand Final and the opportunity to win the Gold Medal prize of £15,000. 

In the end it was Joseph Havlat's excellent performance that secured him the win and £5,000 prize, many congratulations! Such was the exceptional talent on display, that Welshman Luke Jones was also awarded the £1,000 Kerr Memorial Prize for a Young Pianist of Promise.

Up next week is the first our two Ensemble Section Finals. Teamwork at its finest is displayed in the string and piano ensembles section, as many of the UK's finest players gather on our stage. Previous winners of this £10,000 prize include the Marmen Quartet, Cavaleri Quartet, the Busch Trio, the Solem Quartet and the Finzi Quartet. Book your tickets here.

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