Effort, inspiration, talent showcased in Van Cliburn competition finals

Posted Thursday, Jun. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The six finalists have been named in the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, one each from the United States, China, Ukraine, Russia, Italy and Japan.

They range in age from 19 to 26, and all are now world champions. Tonight they begin a last round of concerts, and on Sunday an elite jury will determine which will be named the champion of champions.

The next four days thus become the most intense of more than three weeks of competition and activities that began May 22 with the opening dinner and draw party. But in fact, they are the culmination of four years of work by Cliburn Foundation board members, staffers, volunteers and music professionals.

The spotlight for these four days will be on the finalists, and the celebration following Sunday’s awards ceremony will be about their achievements. Nobody would have it any other way — this is, after all, an event that is all about music and musicians.

But before the finals begin, it’s fitting to thank the people who have made it all happen. From foundation Chairman Carla Kemp Thompson and Vice Chairman (and former Star-Telegram publisher) Wes Turner, through a list of host families who have shown the 30 competitors from around the world the best of Texas hospitality, it’s been a job well done.

A five-member screening jury traveled the world earlier this year to find those top competitors, selecting them from 133 pianists performing before live audiences.

The entire effort is sustained through financial support from generous individuals, foundations and corporations.

The Cliburn staff is led by Jacques Marquis.

The abiding presence that surrounds it all is that of Van Cliburn himself, a presence diminished but not erased because he was not physically here to join the cheers after each performance. Cliburn died Feb. 27 at his Fort Worth home. He was 78.

Besides the monumental talent he displayed in winning the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958, Cliburn was blessed with a magnetic personality both on stage and off.

It wasn’t performance. It was personal. The competition in his honor, in Fort Worth, carries forward with his inspiration.

And now to this year’s finalists: Sean Chen, Fei-Fei Dong, Vadym Kholodenko, Nikita Mndoyants, Beatrice Rana and Tomoki Sakata. Bravo, y’all!

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