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

Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

Collaborative Magic

In the heat of the semifinal round, Maestro McGegan and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra deserve an award for most outstanding supporting cast. The orchestra and Maestro have been nothing short of exceptional in providing the proverbial floor upon which the competitors dance. Together, the orchestra, Maestro McGegan, and the competitors are creating a one of a kind musical experience that will never be able to be entirely replicated in live performance again.


With the semifinals coming to a close, we are all wondering how the jury could possibly choose the six competitors who will advance to the finals. Since the competition began, we have been mesmerized by the pure magic that has taken place on the stage of Bass Hall. With just two solo recitals and four Mozart Concerti remaining before the judges must deliberate, we are rapidly approaching the most intense moment for our twelve semi finalists. Who will remain?

The two semifinal solo recitals today were performed by Han Chen and Rachel Cheung. Chen (25) of Taiwan performed a program including: Bach-Busoni Chaconne in D Minor, BWV 1004, Fantasie in B Minor, op.28 by Scriabin, Piano Sonata 1.X.1905 by Janáček, and Fantasie in C Major, D760, op. 15 by Schubert. His performance was exceptionally well-received by the audience. Rachel Cheung (25) of Hong Kong performed Schumann's Kreisleriana, op. 16 and Prokofiev Sonata No. 6 in A Major, op. 82. Cheung caused quite a stir on our live stream comment thread. We were thrilled with the increase in audience participation during her performance! Tonight, four competitors performed their Mozart Concerti with the orchestra. Yutong Sun (21) of China, Honggi Kim (25) of South Korea, Yury Favorin (30) of Russia, and Georgy Tchaidze (29) also of Russia were the performers for this evening's round. The performers were absolutely divine and each bared the depth of their musicality to the audience and this vulnerability was praised wholeheartedly. 

If I were not to compliment the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, there would be little sense in continuing to write this article. The professionalism and quality of this ensemble plays a colossal role in the performances of the competitors. One could play a recording of each performance in random order and be unable to determine which was the first and which the last of the evening. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra does not tire and is sensitive to the experience of each performer. Without a doubt, this perceptive quality is a central element of this ensemble which transfers from their regular season performances under Maestro Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Below is a photograph of Leonardo Pierdomenico rehearsing with the orchestra.

For the last two days, Maestro Nicholas McGegan has been at the helm of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. He is widely known as a specialist in the baroque and classical styles having had an illustrious career as the Artistic Director and conductor at the Göttingen Handel Festival for twenty years (1990-2001). Since his departure from the festival, he has continued to thrive and has had several guest appearances with various major orchestras. McGegan's radiant personality is reflected back to him by the orchestra and the competitors. His style on the podium puts the competitors at ease and creates a musical environment in which they can flourish. With McGegan's expertise, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra's strength, and the virtuosity of each competitor, these are performances you do not want to miss. 

Tomorrow we will hear Leonardo Pierdomenico (24) of Italy and Kenneth Broberg (23) of the United States perform their semifinal solo recitals. Tony Yike Yang (18) of Canada, Yekwon Sunwoo (28) of South Korea, Han Chen (25) of Taiwan, and Rachel Cheung (25) of Hong Kong will perform their Mozart Concerti with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Nicholas McGegan. Join tomorrow on the live webcast of the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition! Follow us on Twitter for the all of the most up to date information and Instagram for the full backstage experience! 


By Katie Kelly

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