Reflecting on LIPC before Leeds 2023

In celebration of the #OneYearToGo campaign for Leeds 2023, we’re once again looking back at the cultural conferences and events we have hosted on campus.

Leeds 2023 is a yearlong celebration of culture across our city. Dance, art, sports, poetry and theatre will all take centre stage for the whole year.

The team behind it say:

“We think culture is everywhere in this city and this is our time to shout about it. We’re working with local, national and international artists and communities to create a celebration that’s for Leeds, with Leeds and inspired by Leeds.”

One of our key cultural events is the Leeds International Piano Competition, which we have been proud to be involved with for many years.

The competition, open to pianists under 30 from around the world, has had a close relationship with the University of Leeds since its earliest days in 1961. Let’s take a look back to the 2021 event.

Despite having to hold preliminary rounds online, ‘The Leeds’ (as it is affectionately known) took place from 8th-18th September in person. We were so pleased to host the second round and the semi-finals in the Great Hall on campus as is tradition. 22 pianists from 19 countries performed across 3 days leading to the spectacular finals in Leeds Town Hall.

Alim Beisembayev, 23 year old pianist from Kazakhstan, took first prize after his performance alongside the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Winning the competition is widely regarded as one of the most coveted prizes in the musical world.

The event was a glittering finale to the triennial piano competition which – with the University as its principal partner – has seen every aspect of the instrument celebrated by a global audience.

Adam Gatehouse, Artistic Director for Leeds International Piano Competition, says

“Our relationship with the University of Leeds began in 1963 and is completely unique in the world of competitions as a partnership between one of the world’s leading music competitions and one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

We are thrilled to be able to hold the main part of the Competition in the University’s iconic Great Hall and enjoy access to the top-quality pianos of the University’s own Steinway School. All our competitors and jury members enjoy wonderful hospitality – the University staff are part of our family, and provide incredible support and enthusiasm for our young competitors.

A hugely rewarding aspect of our partnership is our internships and volunteering programme. This offers University of Leeds students the chance to gain valuable experience in a variety of roles which bring the competition to the world, whether it is as production assistants, supporting fundraising, driving cultural engagement on our community Leeds Piano Trail, or providing a warm welcome to audiences at events.

Our global reach, particularly through our online streaming with, enables us to reach out to alumni and networks worldwide, and we are able to develop new thinking together in areas where we have mutual interests, such as digital transformation and community engagement.

We are truly fortunate to have such a forward-looking and vibrant organisation as our Principal Partner.”


Alongside the main competition there was a varied range of concerts and events designed to showcase the talents of all involved. This included the Leeds Piano Trail – 11 beautifully decorated pianos and 10 sculptures spaced across the city which provided an opportunity for anyone to safely play and enjoy the piano for free. Community groups and professional artists transformed the instruments into works of art, including one located in campus inside LUU. The trail encouraged people in Leeds to explore the city and to come together once again.

Harriet Boatwright, Sales and Marketing Manager at MeetinLeeds, says

“We are so very proud of the partnership we have with Leeds International Piano Competition and love how global the event continues to be. As we look to welcome the City of Culture to Leeds in 2023, as a conference team we are driven to ensure that cultural activities remains a crucial part of our event delivery throughout the year and more importantly beyond.  We welcome and look forward to the opportunity to work with the University of Leeds core partners, among the many; Northern Ballet, Opera North and Leeds Museums and Galleries.”