The brightest and best young chamber ensembles enter the international Parkhouse Award competition, such is its reputation. The 2017 Parkhouse Award Finals Concert at Wigmore Hall on Saturday 8 April at 1pm provides a not-to-be-missed opportunity to hear four top young ensembles of piano with strings (duo to piano quartet) from across Europe competing for the Award. The repertoire is free choice and each group performs two pieces for a total of 30 minutes. Thus, there will be two glorious hours of contrasting and exciting music making. Only one ensemble is chosen and the prize is three concerts in prestigious London halls during 2017/18 including Wigmore Hall whose director, John Gilhooly, will be on the jury for the Finals Concert.
22 ensembles Europe wide applied and 17 go through to the live auditions which take place on 4 and 5 April at Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The auditions jury, chaired by Chris de Souza who also leads the Finals jury, have the occasionally difficult task of selecting just four to go through to the last stage of the competition. The 2017 entry might just provide those problems as it includes several ensembles who are already young high fliers. It will be exciting.
The most recent holders of the biennial Parkhouse Award are the Amatis Piano Trio from the Netherlands, winners in 2015. They are now part of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Scheme and most recently have made a studio recording of trios by Haydn and Beethoven. Previous Parkhouse Award winners include the Notos Piano Quartet, the Grieg Trio (the first winner in 1991), the Fournier Trio and the Fauré Piano Quartett which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, all four musicians having met as students in Karlsruhe, and which is regularly acclaimed by promoters as the finest piano quartet they’ve heard.
The Parkhouse Award celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015 having been set up in 1990 in memory of the chamber musician and pianist, David Parkhouse. He was a founder member of the Music Group of London with his wife, cellist Eileen Croxford Parkhouse, and violinist Hugh Bean who together had enjoyed an international career that lasted 37 years. Its aim is to help young ensembles in the early stages of their careers to establish themselves through performances in prestigious venues in London.