2017 News

A piano competition for Young Adult Pianists of Kent, Sussex, Surrey and London postal districts


The Norah Sande Award, an international piano competition held annually in Eastbourne was won this month by Maria Luc.  At just 20 years old Maria is the youngest winner of the Award, started in 2006, and she has already performed at Wigmore Hall and the Wales Millennium Centre and is an orchestral pianist with the New Mozart Orchestra .  Home is Chichester in West Sussex and Maria is currently studying at the Royal Northern College of Music.   Maria received a cheque for £2000 and the opportunity to perform in a recital later in the year.  The final stages were held in the purpose-built concert hall at the Birley Centre, Eastbourne College.  Fifteen semi-finalists  performed a 20 minute programme on Saturday 8th July before a prestigious adjudication panel, Timothy Barrratt, Richard Deering and David Patrick (Chairman)  – all keyboard exponents of international repute.   Three were chosen to perform a full recital programme incorporating classical, romantic and contemporary pieces the following day.  David Patrick said that the three had been chosen from an outstanding field of performers at the semi-finals.

Maria Luc, winner of the 2017 Norah Sande Award, receives a cheque from adjudicator and the opportunity to perform in a recital

Maria was awarded a full scholarship at the age of 12 to attend the Junior Department of the Guildhall School of Music where she was a prize winner of the Jaques Samuel Piano Competition.  She won a scholarship to the sixth form at Chetham’s School of Music with Masayuki Tayama where she received her LSRM and studied at the Royal College of Music with Ian Fountain.  During her time at the RCM she won the West Sussex Young Musician of the Year 2015.  Since joining the RNCM she has won many accolades including a particular commendation in the Beethoven, Concerto and Recital Competitions and was awarded the Peter Donohoe and Fergal O’Mahoney Prize in the 2016 season.  Maria has played a series of themed concerts at the Chichester Festival for the past few years.  She also enjoys composing and has had her compositions performed.  Talent runs in the family; Maria also performs duets with her sister Imy who is also studying at the RNCM.

At the Final on 9th July, Maria played Beethoven’s Sonata in E Major Opus 109, Ligeti’s Etude No 5 Book 1 Arc en Ciel and Rachmaninov’s Etudes Opus 39 Nos 3,4 and 5.

Left to right: Spencer Freeman MBE, Artistic Director and John Crawshaw, Chairman, Norah Sande Award with 2017 winner Maria Luc, runner-up Misa Saka and third place Jonathan Ferrucci


Tokyo born Misa Saka was named as runner up and received a cheque for £1000. Misa, 24, is currently studying in her first year of Masters studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Misa moved from Japan to London in 2006 and began studying at the Junior Royal Academy of Music where she won the iris Dyer Piano Prize.  She recently completed her undergraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.  Misa has been a prize winner in several competitions and performed internationally as a soloist throughout the UK, including London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Cadogan Hall and in Japan, Germany, Poland, France and Belgium. Misa performed Haydn’s Sonata in A flat major 3rd movement, Musgrave’s Snapshots 2009 and Schumann’s Humoreske Opus 20.

Third place and a cheque for £500 was given to 23 year old Italian-Australian pianist Jonathan Ferruci who is currently studying for a Masters degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, supported by scholarships from the leverhulme Trust and the Jessie Wakefield Award.  Jonathan studied for his undergraduate degree at the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory of Music in Florence where he obtained maximum marks cum laude.  Jonathan has performed in Italy, Australia, Hungary, Japan and in London’s Wigmore and Drapers’ Hall.  Recent chamber music projects include a collaboration with violinist Donald Weilerstein with whom Jonathan played Robert Schumann’s first Piano Trio and a performance of Mahler’s Piano Quartet in the Barbican Hall as part of the London Symphony Orchestra Platform series. Jonathan played Schubert’s Sonata in C minor 1st movement, Brtok’s Piano Sonata and Scriabin’s Prelude for the Left Hand – Etude in C sharp minor Opus 42 No 5.

"The adjudicators were delighted with the standard  for this year’s  Norah Sande Award which continues to interest the very top young pianists on the cusp of an international performing career” said Spencer Freeman, the Award’s Artistic Director.  "There was much discussion amongst the audience during the breaks and all had their favourites.  This is a delightful aspect of  the Award – the audience for the semi-final and final can enjoy outstanding recitals but there is also an element of competition to give an edge to the event and we now have a loyal following who enjoy being part of the process.”


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Artistic Director : Spencer W Freeman MBE

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