Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
May 25 - June 10, 2017

Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

Cliburn on the Brain

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Today was a busy one at The Cliburn! The competitors took a stroll through the local museums in Fort Worth and there was a seminar on the "Role of Arts in Society" at the Van Cliburn Recital Hall. These events were followed by three competitors meeting with Jury Chairman and Conductor, Leonard Slatkin to discuss their concerto performances. While those three competitors met with the Maestro, the other three were in final quintet rehearsals. There was also a Cliburn in the Classroom event entitled "Carnival of the Animals" featuring Soprano, Corrie Donovan! 

For the afternoon, Yury Favorin (30, Russia), Kenneth Broberg (23, United States), and Yekwon Sunwoo (28, South Korea) rehearsed with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Slatkin in preparation for their concerto performances tomorrow. As per usual, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra played well and was receptive to Maestro Slatkin's direction. Having the opportunity to observe Slatkin working with the competitors was a privilege. His musical brilliance and sensitivity know no bounds. An iconic American conductor, Slatkin is a formidable figure on the podium who conducts with clarity and precision. While he is intense and insistent on creating a musical space in which the competitors can thrive, Slatkin also has a remarkable sense of humor which added so richly to the rehearsal experience. In these rehearsals, I did take notice that the performers seemed noticeably more comfortable in their finals rehearsals than in preparation for the performances of the Mozart Concerti.  

Though it is disappointing, it would seem the niceties have ceased backstage between competitors. While we are certain the lack of well-wishes from Georgy Tchaidze (29, Russia) to Rachel Cheung (25, Hong Kong) as he was exiting the stage was out of respect for her concentration before her performance, the tensions have risen exponentially since the semifinal round. As previously mentioned, Daniel Hsu (29, United States) made it a point to ensure that the semifinal competitor Dasol Kim (28, South Korea) was receiving all of the attention prior to Kim's semifinal performance of his selected Mozart Concerto. The Cliburn is a competition after all, so this makes sense despite being disheartening. 

To think that in forty-eight hours, The Cliburn will have new medalists is exhilarating! There has been much chatter as I have roamed the lobby during intermissions. Speculation on the finalists is common in any competition; however, typically there is a runaway favorite that is a clear choice for first prize. This is not the case with the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. In the eyes of the audience, this competition could be any finalist's game. The pressure is on, the stakes are high, and is live through it all! 

Be sure to tune in to the webcast and follow us on Twitter for real time updates throughout the competition!

By Katie Kelly

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