Top Honours at Concerto Competition for Waikato Pianist
Andrew performing as a guest soloist with the Opus Orchestra on tour in 2012.
14 March 2013
Top Honours at National Concerto Competition for Waikato Pianist
Music student, Hillary Scholar and talented pianist Andrew Leathwick has taken top honors at the 46th annual National Concerto Competition, which was held in Christchurch this year.
Andrew won first prize overall, performing Prokofiev Piano Concert No. 3, and also claimed both the People’s Prize (audience vote) and the Youth Jury Prize, taking home just over $7,000 in prize money.
The whole experience was more like a performance than a competition for him he says.
“I had a lot of my family travel down to support me, as well as having family from Christchurch attend. When I walked out on stage, I was able to just smile and enjoy it. I felt the love and support from them and in that sense I was able to just have a great time and perform to my family and friends.”
However that didn’t stop him from keeping careful watch of his nerves, and employing some good relaxation techniques.
“I spent a lot of time in the last few days before the competition reading, sleeping and spending time with my grandparents. There comes a point where I find that making sure I'm in a good, relaxed head-space is more beneficial than more work at the piano.”
This year, Andrew is enrolled in a Bachelor of Music with honours degree at the University of Waikato, studying composition, and piano performance under piano teacher Katherine Austin.
He is the third Waikato music student to win the competition in the last four years, with two cellists taking top prizes in previous years; Edward King in 2010, and Santiago Cañón Valencia more recently in 2012.
The prestigious competition is open to musicians aged 25 and under, and alternates between being open to pianists one year and all other instrumentalists the next.
Andrew has been playing the piano since he was nine-years-old. He has had a number of successes in competitions, and has secured many awards and scholarships over the last few years.
In August last year, Andrew won the University of Waikato Concerto competition, securing a spot as guest soloist in Opus Orchestra’s September Tour.
Being a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar, Andrew has his course fees covered, receives specialist coaching and mentoring and takes part in personal development and leadership programmes. These scholarships are the University of Waikato's most prestigious and are awarded to students who are high academic achievers also achieving in the arts or sport.
Andrew is keeping his options open in terms of plans after graduation, which will be in March next year; the talented musician is also particularly interested in composing.
“I certainly find a great attraction in composition. I feel as though it could be very artistically satisfying, so I'm studying it and will just see where it can take me. Of course, there is a bit of a conflict, in that piano and composing each take up a lot of time; but I will keep both going and keep my options open.”