2019 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 George Todica.  Born in Romania in 1993, George has scooped up more than 20 top music prizes around the world since participating from the age of eight.  He has just completed his Arts Diploma Course at London’s Royal College of Music under the guidance of Norma Fisher. George 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 6th July before a prestigious adjudication panel, Ruth Gerald, Graeme Humphrey 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. Two pianists were highly commended from the second round of recitals, such was the quality of performances.

George Todica - 2020 Norah Sande Award Winner George Todica receives a cheque for £2,000 and an opportunity to perform in a recital from the Chairman of Adjudicators, David Patrick

Norah Sande Award winner 2019, George Todica receives a cheque for £2,000 and an opportunity to perform in a recital from the Chairman of Adjudicators, David Patrick

George came to the United Kingdom in 2010, after winning the ‘Constantin Silvestri’ Scholarship which allowed him study for one year at the Stewart’s Melville College in Edinburgh. A year later he entered the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where he would study for the next six years, under the guidance of Graeme McNaught, Norman Beedie and Jonathan Plowright. He finished his Bachelor Degree in 2015 with First-Class Honours and his Masters Degree in 2017. His training was supported by two scholarships from the RCS, scholarships from The Tillet Trust and The Colin Keer Trust and a ‘Britton Award’ from Help Musicians UK. He was chosen for the Tillett Young Artist Platform scheme and made his debut at the Wigmore Hall in 2018.

George has performed in many other prestigious  venues including the Philharmonic Hall in Trento, the Mozarteum Concert Hall in Salzburgh, the Dome de Pontoise in France as well as in the UK at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Bradford Cathedral, Edinburgh’s Brunton Theatre and the Erin Arts Centre on the Isle of Man.  He has performed with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra playing Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals and at the All About Piano Festival  at the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni and at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. A few days before his success at the Norah Sande Award George won first prize at the Llangollen Eisteddfod Instrumental Competition

One music critic wrote that, at the Final  on 7th July, "George Todica  played the opening movement of Beethoven’s well known Waldstein Sonata so well that one wished to hear him perform the entire work”  He also  gave a "commanding rendering” of Rachnaninov’s Second Sonata and performed Nos 2 and 3 of Vine’s Five Bagatelles.


2nd Place went to Kitty Ho, being congratulated by adjudicator Ruth Gerald3rd Place went to Raymond Yiu, being congratulated by adjudicator Graeme Humphrey

Left: Shun Yin (Kitty) Ho receives 2nd prize from adjudicator Ruth Gerald - Right: Raymond Yiu receives 3rd prize from adjudicator Graeme Humphrey


Shun Yin (Kitty) Ho, born in Hong Kong and recently awarded Distinction in her Masters Degree on a full scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, was named as runner up and received a cheque for £1000.  Winner of the Gold Prize and Soloist Award in the 15th International Chopin Piano Competition in Asia and the Second Prize winner in the 2018 Livorno Piano Competition in Italy, Kitty was described as 'a rising star' (Radio Television Hong Kong 4) after her 'sensitive and compelling' performance with the Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra in 2017. During her study at the Academy, she was also highly commended in the Beethoven Concerto Exam Prize. Her many concert appearances include an invited performance at the European Music Festival 2018.  As well as being a versatile soloist, Kitty enjoys being an opera repetiteur.  At the Norah Sande Final she "made the melody sing” in Beethoven’s Sonata No 11 in Bflat Major first movement plus Rautavaara’s Sonata No 2, third movement and Schumann’s Humoreske.

Third place and a cheque for £500 was given to Raymond Yiu who was born in Hong Kong in 1993 and started taking piano lessons aged 4.  He moved to Aberdeen in 2008 where he won the title Aberdeen Young Musician of the Year.  In 2012 Raymond won a scholarship to study with Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he  recently completed his Masters and Batchelors degrees with distinction. day. He has given a recital at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  His many competition successes include at the 2019 Bromsgrove International Musicians’ Competition and subsequently he has been invited to join the KNS Classical label.  At the Finals of the Norah Sande Award  a critic wrote "Raymond astonished us in his choice of a modern work by Mikel Urquiza (Contrapluma) which enabled him to play at the speed of light, to cover the entire keyboard and to thump the ivories not only with his clenched fists but with his entire forearms”.  He also played Beethoven’s Sonata in G first movement, Berg’s Sonata Opus 1 and Liszt’s variations on Bach’s Weine Klagnen Sorgen Zagen.

"The adjudicators said that the standard had been exceptional 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.  "Applications were high in both quantity and quality which enabled us to put on an outstanding Second Round and Final, enjoyed by the audience now loyal to the annual Award.  The Birley Centre is proving to be a very fine concert hall for the region and we are looking forward to hosting our fifteenth  Award finals there next year. We are very proud of our previous winners who have been performing in top concert halls around the world and achieving great accolades.”

The 2020 Award will take place on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th July 2020 and entry form is available on www.sande-award.co.uk.  This Award has been enabled by a substantial bequest from the late Norah Sande, in memory of her Grandmother, Alice Mary Caffin.  The Norah Sande Award is a registered  charity.



Registered Charity No. 1108317

Artistic Director : Spencer W Freeman MBE

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