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Mastermind Of ‘The Leeds’ Shares A Lifetime In Music
Friday - February 5, 2016
Dame Fanny Waterman – one of the most influential figures in British music – will be sharing experiences of her extraordinary life with an audience at Richmond’s Georgian Theatre Royal on Friday 11 March at 7.30pm.

At the tender age of 95, Dame Fanny Waterman is revered throughout the world of classical music as an inspirational teacher and founder and chair of the Leeds International Piano Competition, widely regarded as the most coveted prize in the piano world. She will be in conversation with         Dr Richard Shephard, the renowned composer and practitioner of choral music.

From humble beginnings in Leeds as the daughter of a Russian émigré jeweller, Dame Fanny’s prodigious musical talent and sheer determination was a passport out of hardship. It began when she heard Rachmaninov perform at Leeds Town Hall in the 1920s – and her love affair with the piano has lasted eight decades. 

She excelled as a concert pianist – highlights included a Proms performance during the Second World War with Sir Henry Wood at the Royal Albert Hall – before returning to Leeds with husband Geoffrey de Kaiser to take up piano teaching. However, her emergence as a visionary teacher led to - with the help of her friend Marion, Countess of Harewood - the first Leeds International Piano Competition in 1963.

Fifty years on, Dame Fanny remains the mastermind behind ‘The Leeds’, which is known across the globe and first showcased such talents as Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia, Andras Schiff and Noriko Ogawa. She is also President of the Harrogate International Music Festival.

Her work as a teacher and publisher of piano training books has led to more than 2 million students using her Me and My Piano series and a Channel Four 10-master class series entitled Fanny Waterman’s Piano Progress. Dame Fanny was awarded the OBE in 1971; a CBE in 1999; a DBE in 2005, and received honorary doctorate degrees from the Universities of Leeds and York. She was also given the Distinguished Musician Award from the Incorporated Society of Musicians in 2001 (joining Sir Simon Rattle, Sir William Walton and Jacqueline du Pre) and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Federation of International Music Competitions in 2002.

Her autobiography Dame Fanny Waterman: My Life in Music was published last year by Faber Music to celebrate her fundamental and vast contribution to music education.

Clare Allen, Chief Executive of The Georgian Theatre Royal said: “We are extremely privileged to be able to host this one-off event at The Georgian Theatre Royal and share the memories of one of the century’s great icons of British classical music. 

“As well as hearing anecdotes of great pianists of the past and present, the audience will be able to gain a unique insight into Dame Fanny’s inspirational philosophies on life, learning and music, and her compelling and utter passion for the piano in the intimate setting of our wonderful historic theatre,” she added.

In the interviewer’s chair will be Dr Richard Shephard, formerly Headmaster of the Minster School in York and Visiting Fellow in the Department of Music at the University of York. Amongst his many ecclesiastical and civic roles, he has served on the Archbishops’ Commission on Church Music and on the Archbishops’ Commission on Cathedrals and is an Honorary Freeman of the City of York and a Deputy Lieutenant for North Yorkshire. Dr Shephard is currently working on the music for the York Minster Mystery Plays to be performed in June this year.

Tickets for the event are priced from £10 to £20 and are available from the Box Office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service at: www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk
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