Cliburn jury takes questions from the public

Posted Saturday, Jun. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Ten Cliburn jurors chose to face the music on Saturday morning.

As part of a public forum held at the Maddox-Muse building next to Bass Hall, the jurors fielded questions from the public on a variety of topics about the competitive piano world. Here are some of their responses:

On the globalization of music

Juror Veda Kaplinsky, who heads the piano department at the Juilliard School, said young pianists today have more access to recorded music than ever before which has led to imitations.

“Imitating has become a little too prevalent where someone will hear a performance they like and imitate it rather than come up with their own interpretation,” Kaplinsky said.

She added that students feel tremendous pressure to become a successful concert pianist when their young. “This is a very destructive thing. The old masters had time to grow and time to internalize things and time to figure out who they were and what they wanted to say.”

On the standardization of competition repertoires

“I ask myself how many times every day, for instance, a Chopin Etude, is practiced. I don’t have a real solution to this question. I still hope that contemporary music gets so important and so strong in the repertoire of the young generation so we can avoid judging on the same pieces,” said Juror Andrea Bonatta, an Italian pianist.

He added in China the same set of classical music pieces are taught to students which is a problem. “They use this repertoire as an exercise and that is very dangerous for music and I think we are in a very difficult situation.”

Juror Arie Vardi, an Israeli pianist who teaches at the Hochschule fur Musik in Hannover, said he is impressed with the amount of Bach pieces that were played by competitors at this year’s Cliburn but understands why certain pieces are often played at competitions.

“We have to take into consideration that participants in the competition want to win the competition, therefore they will choose the best repertoire to win a competition,” Vardi said. “It is easier to win with Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev [concertos] than with Brahms.”

On too many international piano competitions

Liu Shih Kun, who competed against Van Cliburn at the first Tchaikovsky competition in 1958, said there were no more than 10 international piano competitions back then. “Now, nobody knows really how many competitions there are in the world. Bonatta told me in Italy alone there are more than 300 international competitions....Because of the quantity of competitions it means the level of competitions is also dropping....There are only a few competitions that have kept that level, the Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Cliburn, won’t change the quality.”

“This is the pride of the city of Fort Worth and Van himself,” Kun added.

-Andrea Ahles

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