Hebden Bridge Piano Festival header image

Hebden Bridge Piano Festival story

  • 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 following year’s event. 

Each year, over the three days, we presented afternoon and evening concerts, plus lunchtime recitals, given by performers of national and international renown.

It was also important to us to showcase talented local amateur pianists, both adults and children, and to put on events aimed at people of all ages, including an annual children’s concert.

The Festival had a firm commitment to promoting new talent whenever possible, and to staging low-cost and free, accessible events.

Although our main focus was on Classical music, we always presented 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 included blues, jazz, and boogie-woogie. When the weather was good enough, we had a piano on the riverside terrace outside the café and anyone who wanted to could play. Apparently, delightful piano music  was be heard from as far away as the hillsides surrounding our town.

In June 2017 we staged a very special 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.

Our volunteers

The Piano Festival was only possible because of the efforts of a wonderful group of volunteers. Some worked before the Festival weekend, organising the stewarding, helping people get hold of and sell-on tickets for sold-out concerts, proof-reading the programme and helping us disseminate the publicity. Many others helped over the Festival itself with audience management, providing information and generally supporting the organisers. We all worked together to ensure that everyone, artists, audiences, stewards and the Town Hall staff themselves had a great time.

“The music was wonderful but also the intimate venue in a nice location, and people running the event were really friendly and helpful. A lovely festival that we’ll come to again.”

Our Patron

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.

Our Director

The Festival was 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 was his partner Jan Scott, an experienced administrator, who has her own website design business.

In 2014 the Piano Festival became a company limited by guarantee. The current directors are:

  • Dr Linda Patterson (Chair)
  • Dr Richard Bunzl
  • Stella King
  • David Nelson
  • Jan Scott
  • Dan Pope
  • Gwyneth Morgan