A festive Cliburn day ends with ‘draw party’

05/23/2013 6:48 PM

05/24/2013 8:21 AM

At a black-tie dinner in downtown Fort Worth on Wednesday night, the late Van Cliburn was honored in a video tribute.

Then the prestigious quadrennial piano competition that bears his name got down to business: determining the order in which 30 young musicians from around the world will play, beginning Friday.

At what is known as the draw party, Fei-Fei Dong of China was the first name selected from a silver chalice held by the 2009 co-gold medalist, Haochen Zhang. In a new procedure at this year’s Cliburn, Dong was allowed to choose her playing slot. She opted for 24.

“I was too nervous,” Dong said immediately afterward. “I forgot which number I had in mind. I was thinking 21 to 25, but not as the first. It was a miracle.”

By deadline Wednesday, numbers 22 and 15 were spoken for. Each pianist was hoping to avoid playing first Friday morning when the competition opens at Bass Hall.

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