A young Harrogate musician has been named the national winner of a prestigious piano competition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Alannah Saphir, 12, performed in the final of the EPTA (European Piano Teachers Association) UK Piano Competition on Saturday, April 6, impressing the panel of three distinguished judges with her chosen three-piece programme.
The judges, all eminent professional pianists, praised the technical ability of each of the finalists in her category for Grade 6/7 pianists, but found that Alannah’s performance brought a sense of herself to the piece, showing a deeper understanding of the music as well as a real artistry at the piano.
Their comments included: “There was considerable charm and an attractive stylishness”, “You really told a story with this piece”, and “You played with aplomb and energy.”
Alannah, whose parents are both professional pianists and music teachers, reached the final after going through from a first round in York in January before winning the regional final at Chethams School of Music in Manchester last month. The national final featured winners from 16 EPTA regions.
Her father, Julian Saphir, said:
We are all delighted for Alannah. It was a huge achievement to get to the national final but, more than that, it was just an amazing experience for her to play on a Steinway concert grand piano at the Royal Academy. We always say that you can’t win everything, but she absolutely deserved to win this time. And, as my wife and I do a lot of adjudication ourselves, it was nice for us to be part of the audience for a change.
Alannah, who is a Year 8 student at Rossett School, began playing the piano at the age of five and has mainly been taught by her mother, Nichola Saphir. She also plays the flute at Grade 6 level and is an enthusiastic ballet dancer.
We’ve always given Alannah and her two older brothers the opportunity to learn music, but we’ve never forced them to do it. But Alannah just loves it.