The first festival took place in April 2013 in the newly built and fully accessible Hebden Bridge Town Hall. It was so well received by both audiences and participants that that we immediately set about planning the 2014 event.
And now? Now we’re already booking performers for our 2019 Festival, our seventh, which will take place from 26th-28th April.
Each year, over the three days, we present afternoon and evening concerts, plus lunchtime recitals, given by performers of national and international renown.
It is also important to us to showcase talented local amateur pianists and to put on events aimed at people of all ages, including an annual children’s concert.
The festival also has a firm commitment to promoting new talent whenever possible, and to staging free, accessible events. In 2016 and 2017 20% of our concerts were free.
Although our main focus is on Classical music, we will always present other forms too. In 2015 the first concert to sell out was the fabulous jazz pianist Zoe Rahman’s and in 2014 we were proud to welcome the extraordinary Gwilym Simcock, who added to the magic of his captivating performance by bringing on two of the BBC Young Jazz Musician finalists to join him for his encore.
Early evening, informal performances in the Town Hall’s café have included blues, jazz, and boogie-woogie. When the weather is good enough, we have a piano on the riverside terrace outside the café and anyone who wants to can play. Apparently, delightful piano music can be heard from as far away as the hillsides surrounding our town.
We also put on fundraising events throughout the year, making use of the Town Hall’s own upright piano. There’s an annual Christmas family sing-along and there are occasional pub-style piano evenings, which are proving to be very popular.
In June 2017 we staged a very special and highly successful Gala Piano Recital at Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax – Kathryn Stott (our Patron, see below) and Noriko Ogawa performed works for two pianos as well as solo pieces. We were delighted that, in a different venue, we were still able to experience the warm, friendly vibe which our audiences repeatedly comment on after the Festival.
Kathryn Stott is recognised internationally as one of Britain’s most versatile and imaginative musicians and among today’s most engaging pianists. Kathryn has been supportive of the festival from the outset and we were tickled pink when she agreed to be our patron. Do visit her website; you may like to start by reading some sparkling reviews.
Kathryn was a headline performer in 2014, her sell-out recital was a glorious end to a magical few days. And only a week earlier she’d played David Nelson’s music at The Grand Departs, playing the grand piano as it was hauled up the first stages of the longest continual incline in England by 18 cyclists.
The festival is the brainchild of its Director, Hebden Bridge pianist and composer David Nelson who was, for fifteen years until 2012, the music co-ordinator for Hebden Bridge Arts Festival. In addition to this, he runs an annual season of music concerts at Wainsgate Chapel, and also ran HX7 Jazz Club for several years.
Working with David as Administrative Director is his partner Jan Scott Nelson, an experienced administrator, who has her own website design business.
In 2014 the Piano Festival became a company limited by guarantee. The directors are:
- Dr Linda Patterson (Chair)
- Dr Richard Bunzl
- Stella King
- David Nelson
- Jan Scott Nelson
- Dan Pope
- Tim Taylor Willson