Just in: Leeds Piano Competition changes hands

Just in: Leeds Piano Competition changes hands


norman lebrecht

August 18, 2015

Dame Fanny Waterman is stepping down at the age of 95.

Her chosen successors are to be Adam Gatehouse, former head of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists, and the English pianist Paul Lewis.

Seems like a safe pair of hands.

Dame Fanny Waterman c. Andy Manning (2009)

press release:

Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse are to become joint Artistic Directors of the Leeds International Piano Competition when Dame Fanny Waterman steps down from her role as Chairman & Artistic Director after the 2015 event (26 August – 13 September). Dame Fanny, now 95, announced her decision to retire earlier this year.


Paul Lewis is internationally regarded as one of the world’s foremost pianists, while Adam Gatehouse is best-known as a senior Editor at BBC Radio 3 where he founded the BBC New Generation Artists scheme, which has fostered the careers of many leading artists in international music.


Together they aim to build on the great legacy of Dame Fanny who, having founded ‘the Leeds’ in 1961, created what is now widely viewed as one of the world’s most prestigious and influential piano competitions. As Artistic Directors, Lewis and Gatehouse will be supported by a central administration team in Leeds headed by Mark Wingate in the role of Chief Executive.


They will nurture the Competition’s hallmark qualities of excellence and integrity, maintaining its status as one of the most coveted prizes in the piano world. At the same time, their shared vision is to develop the Competition’s connectivity with both the city of Leeds as well as its wider national and international audiences through an enriched programme of events and the use of digital technology. They will seek to extend opportunities for participants and ensure that the Competition continues to grow into an ever-stronger platform for young pianists, music lovers and audiences long into the future.


As Artistic Directors, Lewis and Gatehouse will be responsible for the selection of competitors and jury members, and join the Competition’s renowned jury. They will also develop the Competition programme including inviting selected international artists to give masterclasses and act as mentors, and take a key role in supporting all areas of the Competition’s work. Both Lewis and Gatehouse are keen to develop an education programme involving competitors visiting local schools during the competition.


Adam Gatehouse says:

“For all my professional life I have been lucky enough to work with young artists, and discovering and nurturing exceptional talent has been a constant source of delight and enrichment. To have the chance to help steer such a distinguished and august organisation as Leeds International Piano Competition through its next phase, and to do that with the wonderful Paul Lewis, with whom I first worked at the very beginning of his career 23 years ago, is a logical extension of that and a rare privilege. Following in the footsteps of that diminutive giant of the musical world Dame Fanny Waterman is a daunting challenge, and I hope that together we can maintain and build on the awesome international reputation and artistic integrity she has brought to this wonderful competition.”


Paul Lewis says:

“The Leeds International Piano Competition has long been an integral and significant part of the musical awareness of any young pianist growing up in the UK. Dame Fanny’s astonishing achievement over more than half a century stands as one of the great landmarks of the music world, and it is an enormous privilege to have the chance to play a part in its future. To be entrusted with preserving and building on the remarkable legacy of this most distinguished of piano competitions is a great honour, and I am especially thrilled to have the opportunity to do that in partnership with Adam Gatehouse who was a great support to me in the early stages of my career. I hope that, between us, we can do justice to the next chapter in the story of this prestigious event, and I look forward with huge excitement to the years ahead.”

Dame Fanny Waterman says:

“I am so thrilled that two people of the calibre of Adam Gatehouse and Paul Lewis are in place to pick up the reins when I step down after this year’s Competition. I am confident that they will guide ‘the Leeds’ with all the integrity and passion I could ever wish for and together will enable new generations of fine young pianists to fulfil their promise and bring their great musicianship to ever wider audiences.”


The 2015 Competition opens on 26 August and runs until the glittering final stages with the Hallé Orchestra under the baton of Sir Mark Elder at Leeds Town Hall on 11 and 12 September. A Winner’s Gala recital takes place on 13 September.



  • Jonathan M. Dunsby says:

    Big shoes to fill ! Paul Lewis is a marvel though – and it’s a great appointment.

  • Una says:

    It is good that Fanny Watermann has had the graciousness to step down before it is too late. A great appointment all round and that it’s not on one person’s shoulders with a barage of people in the backround. Both guys bring different expertise, and am sure they will do well in the running and development of this major competition. All thanks to Fanny Watermann for setting this up in 1961. I am sure she’ll be there in the background with advice and help. It’s been running a long time, and it needs to continue, particularly as it’s not London-based but Leeds – and I speak as a Londoner!!