Founder of ‘The Leeds’ shares ten years of the Tebb

Friday 23 March 2018

The founder of The Leeds international Piano Competition, Dame Fanny Waterman, spent the morning of her 98th birthday listening to talented young pianists perform at a school music competition.

The Robert Tebb Piano Competition takes place annually at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), and this year was a special birthday edition of the competition. Not only was it an opportunity to wish Dame Fanny many happy returns, the 10th Tebb competition was part of a series of ongoing events to mark the school’s 10th birthday year.

Adjudicator Cecilia Xi said she thoroughly enjoyed listening to the 11 finalists, who played a wide range of repertoire from jazz to classical. She said: “You all played accurately and securely, and also very musically with commitment and thought – that’s how you become a great musician. I wish I could give a prize to all of you.”

Cecilia had to pick a winner however and it was the youngest performers who shone this year. Two Year 7 pupils took the top spots – Yuan Xu in first place and Ben Kelly as runner up. Cecilia also highly commended James Cai, Year 9.

Yuan played a contrasting programme of Mozart’s Sonata in Bᵇ 1st movement K333 and Gershwin’s Prelude for Piano no 1. The win was his second major accolade in a week – just last weekend he was been named the Young Musician of the Festival at the Harrogate Competitive Festival of Music, Speech and Drama.

The winner of the Tebb competition receives £300 and a cup, thanks to the generosity of Mr Robert Tebb, alumnus of Leeds Grammar School. The cup had been awarded to Robert in recognition of 25 years’ service to the Leeds Piano Competition.

David Franklin, the first ever winner of the competition, came back to school to present the prize to Yuan, the 10th winner of the competition. David won the inaugural competition as a Year 12 student in 2009, when Dame Fanny was the adjudicator, and continues to enjoying playing jazz piano.

The Tebb competition was introduced during GSAL’s first academic year – the school was created in 2008 through a merger of Leeds Grammar School and Leeds Girls’ High School.

Cecilia Xi began piano lessons at the age of three, and studied at conservatoires in China, as well as Birmingham Conservatoire and The Royal Northern College of Music. She performs across the UK, Europe and Asia, including with many major orchestras, and is the co-founder of the UK Scriabin Association.


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