There has not been a single day throughout this competition that I did not pity the jury for having to make such difficult decisions. Deliberating over the exquisite qualities of a collection of the most brilliant performers I have had the pleasure to encounter is not a responsibility any individual would take lightly. Alas, the jury came to their conclusion on who ought to be a finalist in the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. While some carried crestfallen looks of disappointment on their faces, the remaining victors beamed with pride.
With great delight, I confirm that Georgy Tchaidze (29) of Russia, Kenneth Broberg (23) of the United States, Daniel Hsu (19) of the United States, Yury Favorin (30) of Russia, Rachel Cheung (25) of Hong Kong, and Yekwon Sunwoo (25) of South Korea are the finalists. These six finalists shared the vastness of their musical souls with us during their solo recitals and their Mozart concerto rounds. Each performer brings characteristics of the different national schools but maintains the original qualities that set them apart from their counterparts. The same thread of originality that was present on the stage at Bass Hall tonight is reminiscent of the competition's namesake, Van Cliburn.
Stuart Isacoff authored the book "When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn's Cold War Triumph, and Its Aftermath." In his book, Isacoff discusses the role Van Cliburn held as an unofficial diplomat during one of the most tenuous times in modern history. He focuses on Van Cliburn's continued legacy here at the competition. In an interview with Isacoff, Anderson & Roe asked a question that seems to be present in daily life of a musician: will classical music be around? His response, "As long we keep making beautiful music, people will respond to it."
As I make my way through each day, I search for semblances of Van Cliburn in each competitor. For the competitors from foreign countries, I imagine they must feel in many ways the same way as Cliburn did competing in the International Tchaikovsky Competition. Searching for Van Cliburn's legacy in action is a simple task, for it is evident in the warmth of every host family, the words of encouragement from event staff, and every round of roaring applause from the audience at the end of each piece. The times that his legacy is most vivid are in those passages in which the competitors free themselves of doubt and play from the heart. The ability to perform for a room full of people but to speak to every person's heart individually was Van Cliburn's most pure gift. This intangible quality is what separates iconic players from the rest and I sincerely believe this quality resides within each finalist.
Today and this evening were filled with heightened emotions. We at medici.tv would like to thank our readers and viewers for being a part of this event through our webcast. This experience is new for all of us and we are ecstatic to be sharing it with you. Once more, congratulations to the finalists! Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and to like us on Facebook! We will be back Thursday with more of the competition streaming live!
By Katie Kelly