The Tunbridge Wells International Music Competition at Mayfield Festival

Wednesday 2 May – Sunday 6 May 2018

Finalists and judges at the 2016 Competition

“Contributing to the future of classical music by supporting today’s outstanding young musicians”

This international competition for outstanding young concert artists is recognised around the world as a unique event. It started in 1979, became part of the Festival in 2016, and is once again being hosted by Mayfield School. The Competition has played an important role in the careers of many internationally celebrated musicians. Past winners include piano virtuoso Paul Lewis; opera stars Anne Sofie von Otter and Patricia Rozario; great Spanish clarinettist Joan Enric Lluna; Russian pianist Yuri Didenko, and flautist Michael Cox, currently principal flute of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Competitors, aged between 16 and 27, will perform in one of three sections: piano, strings or wind (including brass); they must be of concert performance standard and be ready for a professional career. At least two works, or two parts of different works, must be performed in each round. They will be judged on displaying an understanding of a range of different musical languages, periods and styles and must present a varied and balanced programme in all three rounds.

Audiences will have the opportunity to hear these talented and aspiring instrumentalists perform in front of world-class judges. This year’s judges are Ian Fountain and Benjamin Frith (piano), Levon Chilingirian and David Strange (strings), and George Caird and Angela Malsbury (wind). The judges will expect a very high standard of performance and will take into account choice, variety and balance of programme items across all rounds.

Round One of the Competition will take place from Wednesday 2 May to Friday 4 May. Three venues will be running simultaneously: Mayfield School Concert Hall (piano), Mayfield School Chapel (strings) and Mayfield School Gresham Hall (wind). Each competitor will play for 25 minutes and members of the audience will be free to move between the venues.

Round Two, the semi-finals, will take place in the Concert Hall on Saturday 5 May with up to 15 musicians competing, playing a different repertoire to Round One.

That evening, as a separate part of the Festival, two of the Competition judges, Levon Chilingirian and Ian Fountain, will perform a chamber concert together in the School Chapel at 7.30pm.

The Finals will be held on Sunday 6 May in the School Concert Hall. Nine finalists – three from each section – will perform (again a different repertoire) commencing at 3.00pm. At the end of the performances at around 6.30pm, the judges will deliberate and announce the winner of each section and the Competition’s overall winner.

Students in full-time education may apply for free tickets for rounds one and two of the Competition. For the hardy concert goer with stamina there will be over 37 hours of music from which to choose over 16 hours of playing time during the competition with the chance of hearing some of tomorrow’s great stars!

The entry closing date for competitors is 16 January 2018. Full details of times and venues will be available from the website closer to the competition.


A programme covering the Festival and the Competition costs £5. Round one entry by programme; Round two (semi-finals) £10; Finals £20. Very recent Competition winners Savitri Grier (violin) and Alexander Ullman (piano) have subsequently been take on for sponsorship by the prestigious Young Classical Artists Trust, and in October Alexander won the internationally acclaimed Liszt Piano Competition.

A recent piano judge commended the Competition with the following message…

“There is much about the classical world that troubles me, not lease the lack of understanding about the real quality an increasing reliance on skilful marketing to suggest more artistic substance than is appropriate. So it is refreshing to know that there are still a few competitions such as yours that provide the right kind of platform for musucians at the outset of their careers”.

Wednesday 2 May - Sunday 6 May 2018 Mayfield School A programme covering the Festival and the Competition costs £5. Round one entry by programme; Round two (semi-finals) £10; Finals £20. Book now