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 at Government House, Brisbane

Afternoon Tea for The Lev Vlassenko Competition and Festival

To celebrate this very exciting week of competition, master-classes and performances, Kaye and I are delighted to host this afternoon tea to welcome the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition contestants and jury members, particularly the twenty-seventeen jury chair, Peter Donohoe.

An occasion like this, here at Government House, also allows me to acknowledge, on behalf of all Queenslanders, the artistic directors, the board – led by Chairman, Mr Ian Hanger, and the host families, donors and sponsors who give such vital support to this important competition. Without their commitment and generosity, it would not be possible to offer this exceptional Festival, or the generous range of prizes. It is testament to their contribution and to the efforts of everyone associated with the Competition that as, well as performance opportunities, eighteen cash prizes will be awarded this year — the largest number offered at any Lev Vlassenko competition since it was established.

One of the most pleasing aspects of this event is that it not only encourages and rewards performance excellence in the current generation of emerging concert artists; it also has its sights fixed firmly on the future through the marvellous Little Lev competition for ten to 15-year-olds. Little Lev was piloted in twenty-fifteen and, this year, is fully incorporated into the Festival program with six young musicians chosen to present their own showcase performance next week.

Competitions like this are vital in helping ensure that new generations of musicians will continue to take on the challenge of performance at the elite level on the concert platform.

Doomsayers have been predicting a decline in the appeal of the piano for a very long time — the hours of practice required to achieve mastery, the instrument’s inherent lack of portability, the availability of the best performances through recordings, competition from computers and other forms of entertainment … all have been suggested as factors spelling the demise of the instrument.

But on the other hand, for the three hundred years since the piano was invented, we have heard about musicians whose careers began through very early encounters with the piano — from Rachmaninoff to Rufus Wainwright, from Liszt to Liberace and even Lady Gaga.

I think we can be confident that the piano will continue to be with us for a long time yet – certainly with the talent, artistry and dedication of young professionals of the calibre represented here today.

Kaye and I wish you all well for the remainder of this wonderful week of competition. Whatever the outcome, I am confident each of you will leave here inspired to continue your relationship with Cristofori’s most amazing machine.