Day Six of the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was fast-paced and high pressure. The Quarter Finals took place over just two days with ten recitals per day. Yes, you read that correctly. Ten recitals per day at 45 (or more) minutes of music. Logistics alone would warrant a slightly more stressful competition situation, but the psychological aspect for the competitors added infinitely more pressure.
The jury deliberated and came to their conclusions in a forty-five minute period. While this may seem like a short amount of time for the staff, for the competitors it felt eternal. All of the competitors were seated in the first four rows prior to The Cliburn administration taking the stage. One could easily detect the heightened nerves as the twenty Quarter Finalists eagerly awaited the news they were dying to hear: the competitors who would advance to the semifinal round.
With bated breath, the competitors listened to Jury Chairman, Maestro Leonard Slatkin of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, read off the names of the semi finalists one by one. As the list progressed, you could see once smiling faces begin to shift to face the possible disappointment and others breathe a sigh of relief when their name was finally called. Following the twelfth semi finalist name being announced, the audience applauded and the evening ended.
As the press crowded the advancing candidates, those who were not so fortunate remained in the audience chatting with family and friends. While some stayed to mingle and interview, others disappeared rather quickly. The emotions in the hall were many and diverse. From elation to devastation, the full range appeared to be present. This was evident on social media as many expressed some surprise at certain competitors not advancing.
Although only twelve remain, each competitor performed with unparalleled ferocity and passion in the Quarter Final round. Being on the jury with such an immense pool of talent and skill is no easy task. With a difficult decision to make in such a short period of time, the jury made their selections and we look forward to hearing the semi finalists in their performances on Thursday.
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By Katie Kelly