Performing Arts

Why the Cliburn? The competitors in their own words

Nikolay Khozyainov of Russia performs his semifinals recital during the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at Bass Hall on June 2, 2013. He returns as a competitor for the event this year.
Nikolay Khozyainov of Russia performs his semifinals recital during the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at Bass Hall on June 2, 2013. He returns as a competitor for the event this year. Star-Telegram archives

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.

EunAe Lee
Lee Jesung Handout

EunAe Lee

Age: 29

South Korea

Personal interests: Swimming, kayaking, watching movies and reading plays.

Fun facts: Won first prize at The Juilliard School Concerto Competition in 2010.

Website: http://eunaelee.com

Social media: www.facebook.com/pianisteunaelee1 (Facebook)

“Ambition is crucial, certainly, but it must be supplemented by a hard work ethic and excellent instruction.”

 

Honggi Kim
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Honggi Kim

Age: 25

South Korea

Personal interests: Walking, jogging, cooking and games.

Fun facts: Won first prize at the 11th Isang Yun International Music Competition.

Website: None

Social media: None

“Usually, I choose the concert program with virtuosity pieces.”

 

Leonardo Pierdomenico
Gregor Khuen Belasi Handout

Leonardo Pierdomenico

Age: 24

Italy

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.

Website: https://leonardopierdomenico.com

Social media: www.facebook.com/LeonardoPierdomenicoPianista (Facebook), www.instagram.com/PierdomenicoLeonardo (Instagram), www.youtube.com/user/Leopier92 (YouTube)

“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.”

 

Alina Bercu
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Alina Bercu

Age: 27

Romania

Personal interests: Traveling, running and cooking.

Fun facts: Has recorded three albums for the Golden Sound Archives of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Co.

Website: www.alinabercu.com

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.”

 

Han Chen
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Han Chen

Age: 25

Taiwan

Personal interests: Composition, contemporary art, art history and fiction.

Fun facts: Recipient of the Van Cliburn Alumni Scholarship at The Juilliard School.

Website: www.hanchenpiano.com

Social media: www.instagram.com/hankop771 (Instagram)

“I am always excited to explore new music, to add new pieces onto my repertoire list.”

 

Philipp Scheucher
Philip Scheucher Christian Jungwirth Handout

Philipp Scheucher

Age: 24

Austria

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.

Website: www.philippscheucher.com

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 Bartlett
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Martin James Bartlett

Age: 20

United Kingdom

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.”

Website: www.martinjamesbartlett.com

Social media: www.facebook.com/martinjamesbartlett (Facebook), https://twitter.com/MJBartlettPiano (Twitter)

“I strive to select interesting and unique repertoire that takes the audience on a journey, historically and emotionally.”

 

Rachel Kudo
Rachel Kudo Handout

Rachel Kudo

Age: 30

United States

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.

Website: None

Social media: www.facebook.com/rachelkudomusic (Facebook), https://twitter.com/rachelkudomusic (Twitter)

“I believe an artist truly engages and connects with the audience when he or she is fully committed to an artistic vision.”

 

Nikolay Khozyainov
Courtesy of The Cliburn Courtesy of The Cliburn

Nikolay Khozyainov

Age: 24

Russia

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.

Website: www.nikolaykhozyainov.com

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.”

 

Yury Favorin
Yury Favorin Handout

Yury Favorin

Age: 30

Russia

Personal interests: Music

Fun facts: Studied piano, clarinet and composition at the Gnessin Moscow Secondary Special School. Competed in the 2013 Cliburn.

Website: http://favorin.ru/index_eng.html

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
Su Yeon Kim In Hwan Nam Handout

Su Yeon Kim

Age: 23

South Korea

Personal interests: None

Fun facts: Began studying piano at 5 years old. Semifinalist at the 17th Chopin International Piano Competition in 2015.

Website: None

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.”

 

Daniel Hsu
Chris McGuire Handout

Daniel Hsu

Age: 19

United States

Personal interests: Programming and film.

Fun facts: Recipient of the Gilmore Young Artist Award in 2016.

Website: https://daniel.hsumusic.com

Social media: www.facebook.com/danielhsupiano (Facebook), https://twitter.com/b0ngled (Twitter), www.instagram.com/_danielhsu (Instagram), www.youtube.com/channel/UCK6H6WpGnwThaekpnuenIbg (YouTube)

“My ideal career in the future is one in which I can share music with people all over the world.”

 

Yutong Sun
Yutong Sun Handout

Yutong Sun

Age: 21

China

Personal interests: Watching sports games and movies.

Fun facts: Currently studies at the New England Conservatory.

Website: None

Social media: None

“I want to express my emotion through my performance and have my performance evoke audience memory and certain feelings.”

 

Ilya Maximov
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Ilya Maximov

Age: 30

Russia

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.

Website: http://ilyamaximov.com

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.”

 

Kenneth Broberg
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Kenneth Broberg

Age: 23

United States

Personal interests: Hockey, baseball, reading and movies.

Fun facts: Won first prize at the Dallas International Piano Competition in 2016.

Website: None

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.”

 

Rachel Cheung
Rachel Cheung Handout

Rachel Cheung

Age: 25

Hong Kong

Personal interests: “I enjoy reading and exercising in the gym.”

Fun facts: Recipient of the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation Scholarship in 2011.

Website: http://rachelcheung.com

Social media: www.facebook.com/RachelCheungwaiching (Facebook), http://rachelcheungpiano.tumblr.com (Tumblr)

“Music, like any art form, is very personal and it penetrates the soul of the musician as well as the listeners.”

 

Sun-A Park
Sun-A Park Van Velden Fotografie Handout

Sun A Park

Age: 29

United States

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.

Website: None

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.”

 

Caterina Grewe
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Caterina Grewe

Age: 29

Germany

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.

Website: www.caterina-grewe.com

Social media: www.facebook.com/CaterinaMaiGrewe (Facebook), https://twitter.com/caterina_mai (Twitter), www.youtube.com/channel/UCV-BxvGv4jfEg3Iz4plhb7g (YouTube)

“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
Tony Yike Yang Handout

Tony Yike Yang

Age: 18

Canada

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.

Website: None

Social media: www.facebook.com/TonyYikeYang (Facebook), https://twitter.com/tonyyikeyang (Twitter)

“Music has always been and will continue to be the most important and meaningful aspect of my life.”

 

Ilya Shmukler
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Ilya Shmukler

Age: 22

Russia

Personal interests: Cinema, literature, fine arts, swimming and table tennis.

Fun facts: Currently attending the Moscow Conservatory.

Website: None

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.”

 

Yekwon Sunwoo
Yekwon Sunwoo Handout

Yekwon Sunwoo

Age: 28

South Korea

Personal interests: Listening to music and hanging out with friends.

Fun facts: In 2013, received the Arthur Rubinstein Prize from The Juilliard School.

Website: None

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.”

 

Alyosha Jurinic
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Alyosha Jurinic

Age: 28

Croatia

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.

Website: www.aljosa-jurinic.com

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.”

 

Tristan Teo
Tristan Teo Handout

Tristan Teo

Age: 19

Canada

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.

Wesbite: www.tristanteo.com

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.”

 

Luigi Carroccia
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Luigi Carroccia

Age: 25

Italy

Personal interests: Classical music and cooking.

Fun facts: Began his musical studies under the guidance of both his father and grandfather.

Website: None

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.”

 

Sergey Belayivsky
Sergey Belayivsky Daniel Boud Handout

Sergey Belyavskiy

Age: 23

Russia

Personal interests: Fitness, swimming, running, dancing and reading.

Fun facts: Participated in a master class with Van Cliburn at the Moscow Conservatory in 2011.

Website: http://sergey-belyavskiy.com

Social media: www.facebook.com/BelyavskiySergey (Facebook), https://twitter.com/BelyavskiyS (Twitter), www.youtube.com/user/Lastpianist (YouTube)

“I always believe in what I perform on the stage and always try to bring my character and personality on the stage.”

 

Georgy Tchaidze
Tchaidze Chad Johnston Handout

Georgy Tchaidze

Age: 29

Russia

Personal interests: Literature, cinema and nature.

Fun facts: Won first prize at the 4th Top of the World International Piano Competition in 2015.

Website: http://georgytchaidze.com

Social media: https://twitter.com/GeorgyTchaidze (Twitter)

“To be able to share . . . is, maybe, highest thing you can dream of being an artist.”

 

Dasol Kim
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Dasol Kim

Age: 28

South Korea

Personal interests: Music, literature, movies, running, restaurants, wine and beer.

Fun facts: Performed with the New York Philharmonic in Seoul.

Website: www.pianistdasol.com

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.”

 

Julia Kociuban
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Julia Kociuban

Age: 25

Poland

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.”

Website: www.juliakociuban.com

Social media: www.facebook.com/juliakociuban (Facebook), www.instagram.com/julia_kociuban (Instagram), www.youtube.com/channel/UCRECVsbl-22FzptHr85eB3A (YouTube)

“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.”

 

Madoka Fukami
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Madoka Fukami

Age: 28

Japan

Personal Interests: None

Fun facts: Artist-in-residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium.

Website: None

Social media: None

“Pianists, we are only one on the stage, but I feel always the atmosphere of the audience.”

 

Nikita Abrosimov
Nikita Abrosimov DShtyrov@gmail.com Handout

Nikita Abrosimov

Age: 28

Russia

 

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.

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