Arts & Culture

A sharp new look for the 2021 Cliburn: 5 women on the jury, and prelims return to TCU

Marin Alsop has been conductor of the Baltimore Symphony since 2005. (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Getty Images)
Marin Alsop has been conductor of the Baltimore Symphony since 2005. (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Getty Images) Getty Images

The jury for the 2021 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will be mostly women for the first time, according to a Cliburn announcement Tuesday.

For the first time in 20 years, the competition also will begin on the campus of Texas Christian University.

Preliminary rounds will begin May 23, 2021, in the new Van Cliburn Concert Hall before shifting downtown to Bass Performance Hall for the semifinals and finals. The competition will end June 12.

Five women and four men will grade the 30 competitors, all under new jury Chairman Marin Alsop of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She is the first woman to lead the Cliburn jury, succeeding Leonard Slatkin, and was the first woman to serve as music director of a major orchestra.

Pianists Wu Han of Taiwan, Anne-Marie McDermott of the U.S., Gabriela Montero of Venezuela, Orli Sharam of Israel and Lilya Zilberstein of Russia are the five women on an almost all-new jury.

They will join fellow jurors Jean-Efflam Bavouzet of France, Rico Gulda of Austria, Andreas Haefliger of Switzerland and Stephen Hough of the United Kingdom.

The screening jury, which travels for more than a month to select the competitors, will include Angela Cheng of Canada, Arnaldo Cohen of Brazil, Christopher Elton of the United Kingdom, Alexander Kobrin of Russia, and Anton Nel, a South African now living in the U.S.

The Cliburn began in Ed Landreth Auditorium at TCU but the finals moved to Will Rogers Auditorium in 1969 and eventually to the Fort Worth Convention Center. Preliminary rounds stayed at TCU until 2001, when Bass Hall opened and the entire event shifted downtown.

The Van Cliburn Concert Hall is part of a new $53 million music center. The 700-seat wraparound auditorium is designed by Portland, Oregon-based BORA Architects.

Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 16 Texas Legislature sessions. First on the scene of a 1988 DFW Airport crash, he interviewed passengers running from the burning plane. He made his first appearance in the paper before he was born: He was sold for $600 in the adoption classifieds.
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