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15 February 2023, 16:11 | Updated: 23 February 2023, 11:56
The famous train station pianos at four of the UK’s busiest terminals will be showcased in a new Channel 4 talent show, judged by superstar pianist Lang Lang and pop singer Mika.
The Piano is a new TV talent competition to find four of the UK’s top amateur pianists, in four of the best-known modern settings for the instrument – London St Pancras, Birmingham New Street, Leeds and Glasgow Central.
As the amateur piano players share their stories and music with the public, their playing will be secretly adjudicated by pop star Mika, and superstar Chinese virtuoso, Lang Lang.
The Piano will showcase some of the best amateur piano-playing the UK has to offer, culminating in a grand concert finale at the Royal Festival Hall.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new TV talent show centred around the king of instruments.
Read more: Blind 13-year-old pianist’s stunning Chopin nocturne performance leaves Lang Lang speechless
The Piano is a five-episode series, starting on Wednesday 15 February at 9pm on Channel 4. Each episode will air across five consecutive weeks.
The two judges in The Piano are superstar pianist Lang Lang and pop singer Mika, who will secretly adjudicate the pianists’ playing at the train station pianos.
Lang Lang told The Guardian of his delight at being involved in a high-profile TV programme centred around the piano. “TV has never really had a piano competition accessible to everyone,” he said.
“We’ve had professional contests or series for vocalists but never just piano. This instrument really is for everybody. Piano connects people, it touches hearts. This is the sort of show I’ve always wanted to do.”
Mika, previously a judge on the Italian X Factor and the French version of The Voice, told The Guardian that amateur pianists will bring “honesty” to the talent show. “They wear their heart on their sleeve in a way professionals just aren’t able to do,” the singer added.
For Lang Lang, playing in train stations rather than concert halls makes it “much more casual and spontaneous”, and brings an element of surprise among the audience. Be they a busy commuter, a stressed parent or a crying child, they all have the capacity to be immediately calmed or delighted by the sound of a piano.
The pianist also hopes it might inspire people to take up the instrument. “I’m pretty sure more people will be interested in playing piano after this show,” says Lang Lang. “It shows the sheer joy of music, no matter who you are.”
Read more: Lang Lang and Gina Alice play a stunning husband and wife piano duet
The Piano, which comes from the makers of The Great British Bake Off, will be hosted by TV presenter Claudia Winkleman (The Traitors).
The Piano will showcase pianistic talent from across the generations, with the ages of contestants spanning from six to 95.
As they play music across the worlds of classical, jazz, hip-hop and house, the contestants will be judged on their technical ability, as well as their charisma and passion.
A teaser for The Piano shares: “From nonagenarians who have been playing for 80 years to 12 year olds who have never played in public before, those who taught themselves to play the classics in lockdown to [...] someone with no sight who against all the odds has mastered Chopin, commuters in train stations across the country will be stopped in their tracks as heartfelt, emotional and uplifting performances take place.”
Read more: Isata Kanneh-Mason and Classic FM’s Tim Lihoreau play charming duet at St Pancras station piano
Shaminder Nahal, Head of Specialist Factual at Channel 4, said: “It’s so thrilling to be celebrating such an array of incredibly talented pianists – many of them self-taught – in such an emotional and uplifting series.”
Nahal promises The Piano will display “the transformative power of piano-playing”.