Van Cliburn

Six pianists going for gold after Monday Cliburn competition cut

The six finalists are named for the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at the Bass Performance Hall, Monday, June 5, 2017.
The six finalists are named for the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at the Bass Performance Hall, Monday, June 5, 2017.

After mastering a Mozart concerto and impressing jurors with a 60-minute recital, six pianists were named finalists in the Cliburn competition Monday night at Bass Performance Hall.

The jury halved the number of competitors, from 12 to six, as they made their last cut for the final round of the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The only female competitor left, Rachel Cheung, advanced along with two Russians, Yury Favorin and Georgy Tchaidze, and two Americans, Kenneth Broberg and Daniel Hsu, and South Korean Yekwon Sunwoo.

Hsu, who played cadenzas written by his older brother, Andrew, during his Mozart concerto semifinal performance, said he was excited to have two more performances at Bass Hall.

“It’s because of his cadenzas that I made it,” Hsu joked after being named a finalist.

For the final round, each competitor will play a piano quintet with the Brentano String Quartet, artists in residence at Yale University.

Each pianist will also perform a concerto of their choice with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by jury chairman Leonard Slatkin.

Cheung, who was the last semifinalist to perform on Monday evening, said she was overwhelmed and is looking forward to the chamber music performance

“It feels quite different to play with friends on the stage,” Cheung said, noting she has performed in various chamber music festivals in Hong Kong. “I’m sure I will enjoy it a lot.”

Semifinalist Leonardo Pierdomenico, who didn’t make the cut, said he had hoped the Cliburn would “bring me some luck,” but that he was fine with the jury’s decision.

“I’m not disappointed because I did my best,” Pierdomenico said. “I’m still young. I’m 24 and my next plans, I have to record a CD this upcoming fall and I have concerts.”

The winner of the competition will be announced Saturday evening at Bass Hall, followed by a closing party, open to the public, in Sundance Square Plaza. Three of the six concertos will be broadcast live on a big screen at Sundance Square Plaza, with the broadcast beginning at 2:45 p.m. The awards ceremony also will be broadcast live from the plaza.

The gold medalist will receive a cash award of $50,000 and performance attire from Neiman Marcus, while the second- and third-place pianists will receive $25,000 and $15,000 respectively. The top three finishers will also receive three years of career management.

The three finalists who do not place will each receive a cash award of $10,000. Additional jury discretionary awards will be announced during the awards ceremony on Saturday.

The finalists are:

Kenneth Broberg, 23, United States

Rachel Cheung, 25, Hong Kong

Yury Favorin, 30, Russia

Daniel Hsu, 19, United States

Yekwon Sunwoo, 28, South Korea

Georgy Tchaidze, 29, Russia

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @andreaahles


May 25-June 10

Bass Hall, Fort Worth

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 Content also will be available on demand. The final round will be broadcast in movie theaters around the country. For information and tickets, visit