Summer Music Festival returns to uncover untold stories

Internationally renowned acts, rising stars and homegrown talent will be performing at the University of Leeds for this year’s International Concert Series Summer Music Festival.

Collage of performers taking part in the 2023 Summer Music Festival

Showcasing the diverse variety of music Leeds has to offer, the University of Leeds International Concert Series Summer Music Festival is returning from Friday 30 June to Friday 7 July.

Tickets are available now for the concerts, which are taking place in the stunning Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall and Clothworkers Bar on campus.

The festival’s theme is ‘Untold, Unheard and Hidden Stories’, inspired by the Leeds 2023 year of culture, with performances exploring music by marginalised or forgotten composers, little-known pieces, and interesting new narratives.

Three outstanding pianists with links to Leeds will take to the stage in ‘Lifting The Lid – Stories from the Piano’ as part of a collaboration with the Leeds International Piano Competition. The event on Saturday 1 July will feature: 

  • Lucy Illingworth, stand out star of Channel 4 series ‘The Piano’, who wowed viewers of the TV programme with her performance in Leeds railway station and has since gone on to perform at the Royal Festival Hall and the Coronation Concert.
  • Ariel Lanyi, an internationally renowned pianist who won the Roslyn Lyons Bronze Medal at the 2021 Leeds International Piano Competition.
  • William Nguyen, a rising star whose ability to play by ear was first spotted by staff at Castleton Primary School in Armley and now studies at the prestigious Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.
  • There will also be a panel discussion about the importance of musical education with Sally Egan of the Leeds International Piano Competition, Lucy Illingworth’s teacher Daniel Bath and Jayne Leadbeater, who first spotted William Nguyen’s musical talent.

Staff Festival music acts hit the right note! June 2023
Olayá will be performing on Friday 30 June with a mix of percussion and traditional Brazilian piano flutes

Dan Merrick, Strategic Development Manager at the School of Music, said: “The co-production with Leeds International Piano Competition on 1 July has to be a highlight of this year’s festival. I've seen both Lucy and Ariel play close-up – unforgettable can be a bit of a throwaway term, but this is one event that everyone will remember for a very long time.

“There's also a truly international feel to the performances this year – with music from India, Brazil, Indonesia, Spain, it’s a perfect fit for an English summer.” 

Flute and percussion band Olayá will perform on the opening night with music hailing from North Eastern Brazil, playing traditional piano flutes, which have rarely been heard in the UK. The group will also be playing the Staff Festival earlier in the day.

The Summer Music Festival will also explore early music careers in Yorkshire in an evening of music and discussion with Music:Leeds’ Launchpad, a scheme supporting emerging artists from the region, on Thursday 6 July.

Closing the festival after eight days of events will be a semi-staged performance of Mascagni's ‘Zanetto’, a genre-breaking Italian opera telling the story of one woman’s search for love after a chance encounter on a park bench.

The full schedule is available online and tickets can be purchased from the box office

There is also a staff discount for tickets. Contact the Internal Communications team at for further details.

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