Ribble Valley International Piano Week is a festival of piano related musical events, held in July each year, and from 2011 has been at the purpose-built Croston Theatre, Westholme School on the rural outskirts of Blackburn, Lancashire. Ribble Valley International Piano Week is the promotional name of Blackburn International Music Festival, a registered charity (number 1015162), which was established in 1987 and since 1991 has been an annual event. The festival is keenly anticipated by piano music lovers, not only throughout the North West of England, but much further afield, many of whom return year after year. Since 1991, our Artistic Director has been internationally renowned concert pianist Martin Roscoe who usually performs two or three times during the festival.
Our list of performers over the years reads like a “who’s who” of classical pianists, including Moura Lympany, Peter Donohoe, Artur Pizarro, Dmitiri Alexeev, Alicia de Larrocha, John Lill, Boris Berezovsky, Lars Vogt, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Piers Lane, Nikolai Demidenko, Nelson Goerner, Steven Osborne, Paul Lewis, Stephen Hough, Angela Hewitt, Ronald Brautigam, Kathryn Stott, Noriko Ogawa, Benjamin Grosvenor and Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, to name but a few – and, of course, Martin Roscoe.
Each year we include alternatives to solo piano recitals – piano quartets and trios, wind ensembles or solo instruments with piano. We have also programmed spoken word events combined with piano – Sir Andrew Motion (former Poet Laureate) and Tim McInnerny (Blackadder) have both performed in recent years alongside pianists Ian Buckle and Lucy Parham. Pre-concert talks, which are free to ticket holders, and the opportunity to play the piano onstage yourself have proved very popular too.
We always incorporate “rising star” lunchtime performers during the week – young people who we encourage in the early periods of their professional careers , giving invaluable experience to them and an opportunity for our audience to do some talent spotting. This year we will be offering free tickets to competitors in piano classes at the Blackburn Festival of Speech, Music and Drama to some of our concerts to encourage the next generation of concert-goers to join us.
For the first time, in 2017 we welcomed The Mill Outside to provide catering and bar facilities which gave the week an enormous boost in its atmosphere and we are pleased that they will join us again for all our events in 2018.
We are indebted to Yamaha for their continuing support over the years in kindly loaning us one of their superb concert grand pianos, and to Rimmers Music in Bolton who bring this piano to us and who enhance proceedings with a stall in the foyer of music related products – and an inspired array of sheet music for sale which includes the pieces performed each day.