Every four years, 30 of the world’s most talented pianists come to Fort Worth from all over the world. When they leave, they could have a career.
Most of them will not.
Thousands of hours of work and steely determination merely get them into the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. That’s just the beginning.
Once they arrive, the real pressure begins. The glare of the spotlight is on them to perform at their highest level for a jury who will vote yes or no. And if it’s yes, more pressure. More practice, more solo recitals, concertos, chamber music collaborations.
Potentially, for 17 days. Potentially, for a gold medal. Potentially, for a shot to be a concert pianist.
Why do they put themselves through it? Because, most of them say, music is their calling.
Here is a closer look at all 30 competitors who will take the Bass Hall stage for the Cliburn competition May 25-June 10 — fun facts about them, how to follow them online or on social media, and what they say about themselves and their music-making, as gleaned from their Cliburn applications.
Personal interests: Swimming, kayaking, watching movies and reading plays.
Fun facts: Won first prize at The Juilliard School Concerto Competition in 2010.
Social media: www.facebook.com/pianisteunaelee1 (Facebook)
“Ambition is crucial, certainly, but it must be supplemented by a hard work ethic and excellent instruction.”
Personal interests: Walking, jogging, cooking and games.
Fun facts: Won first prize at the 11th Isang Yun International Music Competition.
Social media: None
“Usually, I choose the concert program with virtuosity pieces.”
Personal interests: “I personally like reading and painting. I also enjoy watching and practicing sports. My favorites are swimming and soccer.”
Fun facts: Selected as a fellow by the Music Academy of the West in 2016.
“In order to connect to the audience, I try to create a centering process that helps me to create a musical flow, in which I feel completely at ease.”
Personal interests: Traveling, running and cooking.
Fun facts: Has recorded three albums for the Golden Sound Archives of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Co.
Social media: www.youtube.com/channel/UCWyfM0203qxbyA2IBZqpSPw (YouTube)
“I love what I do, I am grateful for it and that’s why I don’t think I make ‘sacrifices’ by practicing 8-10 hours a day.”
Personal interests: Composition, contemporary art, art history and fiction.
Fun facts: Recipient of the Van Cliburn Alumni Scholarship at The Juilliard School.
Social media: www.instagram.com/hankop771 (Instagram)
“I am always excited to explore new music, to add new pieces onto my repertoire list.”
Personal interests: Reading books, skateboarding, watching movies and TV series, meeting friends and driving my car.
Fun facts: Five-time winner of the youth piano competition Prima La Musica.
Social media: www.facebook.com/philipp.scheucher (Facebook)
“For me the most important thing is to spread the music all over the world and reach a broad audience.”
Martin James Bartlett
Personal interests: “Keeping fit. Cycling and running in my local park. Also a keen sailor. Enjoy reading and traveling.”
Fun facts: In 2016, played a concert at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London for Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday. One of 27 international artists, including Elton John and Stevie Wonder, chosen by the BBC to record a cover of the Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows.”
“I strive to select interesting and unique repertoire that takes the audience on a journey, historically and emotionally.”
Personal interests: “I love being active! I enjoy yoga, running, swimming, hiking, badminton, tennis, among other sports like ice skating and basketball. I also love reading, watching movies, eating and I am always interested in shopping and fashion.”
Fun facts: Made her orchestral debut at 16 years old playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Recipient of the Gilmore Young Artist Award in 2008.
“I believe an artist truly engages and connects with the audience when he or she is fully committed to an artistic vision.”
Personal interests: “In my spare time I listen to operas and often visit opera theaters.”
Fun facts: Won first prize at the 2012 Dublin International Piano Competition. Currently pursuing an advanced degree at the Hannover Hochschule für Musik. Semifinalist in the 2013 Cliburn.
Social media: www.facebook.com/FansNikolayKhozyainov (Facebook), https://twitter.com/nkhozyainov (Twitter), www.instagram.com/nikolaykhozyainov (Instagram), www.youtube.com/user/NikolayKhozyainov (YouTube)
“My inward life is reflected through musical sounds, it is the way I communicate with the audience. My playing expresses my feelings, my emotions.”
Personal interests: Music
Fun facts: Studied piano, clarinet and composition at the Gnessin Moscow Secondary Special School. Competed in the 2013 Cliburn.
Social media: www.facebook.com/Yury-FAVORIN-120020424698915 (Facebook)
“I think it is good not to be afraid of new pieces, new combinations and new perspective on famous music.”
Su Yeon Kim
Personal interests: None
Fun facts: Began studying piano at 5 years old. Semifinalist at the 17th Chopin International Piano Competition in 2015.
Social media: None
“To connect music and audiences together, I think that we pianists should first have a huge concentration on performing and much detailed contents to make sure they can understand the music well and follow easily.”
Personal interests: Programming and film.
Fun facts: Recipient of the Gilmore Young Artist Award in 2016.
“My ideal career in the future is one in which I can share music with people all over the world.”
Personal interests: Watching sports games and movies.
Fun facts: Currently studies at the New England Conservatory.
Social media: None
“I want to express my emotion through my performance and have my performance evoke audience memory and certain feelings.”
Personal interests: Chess
Fun facts: Played his first concerto at 8 years old with the Yekaterinburg Philharmonic Symphonic Orchestra. Recipient of the Queen Elizabeth trust’s Queen Mother Scholarship.
Social media: www.facebook.com/ilyamaximovpiano (Facebook)
“There are different musician types and their approaches, but my way is to create trust and friendly atmosphere between me and the listener.”
Personal interests: Hockey, baseball, reading and movies.
Fun facts: Won first prize at the Dallas International Piano Competition in 2016.
Social media: None
“As a musician, I think that connecting with the audience should be a natural process. It is my job to communicate the composer’s intentions to the listener and to form a personal connection with the audience through the music.”
Personal interests: “I enjoy reading and exercising in the gym.”
Fun facts: Recipient of the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation Scholarship in 2011.
“Music, like any art form, is very personal and it penetrates the soul of the musician as well as the listeners.”
Sun A Park
Personal interests: “I love animals (especially dogs), traveling and visiting art galleries/museums.”
Fun facts: Won first prize at the 61st Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition.
Social media: None
“Not only is expressing oneself an important feature to perform works by composers in the past, present and future, but it is also very, extremely crucial to know what mind of the composers is being expressed in the works that we are performing.”
Personal interests: All forms of art (from paintings to fashion), tennis and traveling.
Fun facts: Awarded the HRH Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Rose Bowl in 2013.
“I think if a musician opens himself/herself up completely to the audience sincerely and without pretense, then the message expressed through music will surely resonate with the public.”
Tony Yike Yang
Personal interests: Badminton, video games, swimming, watching movies, tourism, pingpong and spicy foods.
Fun facts: Won first prize at the 2014 Cooper International Piano Competition. Jury Award winner at the 2015 Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition.
“Music has always been and will continue to be the most important and meaningful aspect of my life.”
Personal interests: Cinema, literature, fine arts, swimming and table tennis.
Fun facts: Currently attending the Moscow Conservatory.
Social media: None
“I feel that I have something to tell to the audience. I think that it’s really important when you feel that your ideas connect with fingers and your expressions become understandable to listeners.”
Personal interests: Listening to music and hanging out with friends.
Fun facts: In 2013, received the Arthur Rubinstein Prize from The Juilliard School.
Social media: None
“This Cliburn competition in 2017 could actually be the last competition in my life, so I really will do all my best to prepare and hopefully it will go well and make a smooth transition into a mature concert pianist.”
Personal interests: Film, TV, popular music, literature, bodybuilding, football (soccer) and cooking.
Fun facts: Named “Best Young Musician” by the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra in 2012. Won first prize at the 2014 Luciano Luciani International Piano Competition.
Social media: www.facebook.com/jurinicpiano (Facebook)
“I try my best to achieve the highest level of skill experience, knowledge and artistic expression I possibly can.”
Personal interests: Reading, cooking and watching movies.
Fun facts: Currently attends The Juilliard School in New York City. Won second prize at the 2016 Hilton Head International Piano Competition.
Social media: www.facebook.com/tristanteopianist (Facebook)
“Each composer, I believe, has poured a little of his soul into those notes. It takes a pianist to perform that music, to bring it alive, to make the notes soar and fill the air.”
Personal interests: Classical music and cooking.
Fun facts: Began his musical studies under the guidance of both his father and grandfather.
Social media: www.facebook.com/luigicarroccia.page (Facebook)
“I believe that playing is like telling a story. The more this story is engaging, sincere, felt and told with personality and passion, the more it is possible to connect with the audience and transmit emotions.”
Personal interests: Fitness, swimming, running, dancing and reading.
Fun facts: Participated in a master class with Van Cliburn at the Moscow Conservatory in 2011.
“I always believe in what I perform on the stage and always try to bring my character and personality on the stage.”
Personal interests: Literature, cinema and nature.
Fun facts: Won first prize at the 4th Top of the World International Piano Competition in 2015.
Social media: https://twitter.com/GeorgyTchaidze (Twitter)
“To be able to share . . . is, maybe, highest thing you can dream of being an artist.”
Personal interests: Music, literature, movies, running, restaurants, wine and beer.
Fun facts: Performed with the New York Philharmonic in Seoul.
Social media: www.facebook.com/pianistDasolKim (Facebook)
“To me, music was never just a pretty sound that flows in the background. Even as a kid, I always felt that there was something personal about music.”
Personal interests: Art, books, movies and cooking.
Fun facts: First Polish semifinalist in the history of the International Tchaikovsky Competition. In 2015, released debut solo album titled “Schumann, Chopin, Bacewicz.”
“I show my love to music in every performance. I think that technique should never be the goal, it should be only a bridge to help to achieve more bigger things in music.”
Personal Interests: None
Fun facts: Artist-in-residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium.
Social media: None
“Pianists, we are only one on the stage, but I feel always the atmosphere of the audience.”
Compiled from the competitors’ Cliburn applications.
Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
May 25-June 10
Bass Hall, Fort Worth
Complete competition subscriptions: $600-$3,000.
Preliminary round: May 25-28. All 30 competitors play a 45-minute solo recital, including a commissioned work written by Marc-André Hamelin. $80-$200 round subscription; $10-$35 per concert.
Quarterfinal round: May 29-30. Twenty competitors play a 45-minute solo recital. $80-$150 round subscription; $15-$40 per concert.
Semifinal round: June 1-5. Twelve competitors will play a 60-minute solo recital and a Mozart piano concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. $280-$450 round subscription; $30-$120 per concert.
Final round: June 7-10. Six competitors will play a piano quintet with the Brentano String Quartet and a concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. $150-$260 round subscription; $45-$180 per concert.
Awards presentation: 7 p.m. June 10. $30-$40.
The entire competition will be webcast live, hosted by pianists Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, at Cliburn2017.medici.tv. Content also will be available on demand. The final round will be broadcast in movie theaters around the country. For information and tickets, visit www.FathomEvents.com.
For more information, scheduling and tickets, visit Cliburn.org. Follow complete competition coverage at Star-Telegram.com/van-cliburn.