Van Cliburn

Why should I attend the Cliburn competition? What you need to know

Daniel Hsu, of the United States, takes a bow after he performs on the first day of the semifinal round of the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at Bass Hall on June 1.
Daniel Hsu, of the United States, takes a bow after he performs on the first day of the semifinal round of the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at Bass Hall on June 1.

1. Why should I go to the Cliburn if I’m not a classical piano fan?

Three reasons:

▪ Because it’s fun. Audiences who attend develop an affection for the supremely talented young pianists, and want them to do well. As Jacques Marquis, Cliburn president and CEO put it, “You’re not involved like this if you go to any concert any day. The people are so behind them. What a joy for all the kids to play for such an enthusiastic audience — this is precious.”

▪ Because Bass Hall is a stunning concert hall resembling classic European opera houses that everyone should experience.

▪ Because, again from Marquis, the Cliburn competition “will surprise you.” You might just develop an interest in classical music, which opens a door to joy and beauty — and we all could use more of both.

2. I’d like to learn more about classical piano music, and also share it with my children. What’s available?

A 2017 Competition Festival takes place during the Cliburn. It includes master classes, discussions and other activities. For children, Thursday’s festival events include a noon family show called Carnival of the Animals, free at McDavid Studio, 301 E. Fifth St. (across the street from Bass Hall) with activities based on a famous composition of the same name. For more about the festival, visit, choose 2017 Competition and then Festival Events.

3. Speaking of children, I heard competition performances are restricted where they’re concerned.

Children need to be at least 10 years old to attend competition performances in Bass Hall. Younger children accompanied by parents can watch the free simulcast on a big screen in Van Cliburn Recital Hall across the street at Maddox-Muse Center.

4. How is the Cliburn involved in the community during the years there’s no competition?

The Cliburn has 275 concerts in schools — they’re in every Fort Worth school district elementary school, plus classrooms in Arlington, Hurst-Euless-Bedford district, Benbrook and others, Marquis said. Concerts also are staged in Sundance Square and elsewhere in the city as part of the Cliburn in the Community series starting in the fall. A bar series of concerts has paused while the Cliburn searches for a new venue after Live Oak closed, but will resume. The Cliburn broadcasts more than 250 classical music performances live online over four years. Visit for more information.

5. How can I watch the 2017 competition if I don’t have tickets?

Go to or The webcast of the entire competition is being livestreamed by Medici.tvlen, and includes knowledgeable and fun commentary by Anderson & Roe Piano Duo (Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe).

6. What if I want to go out to see the finals but don’t have tickets to the performances?

In Fort Worth, head to Sundance Square Plaza downtown at 2:45 p.m. A live broadcast on a big screen will show three finalists performing with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, as well as the awards ceremony, when the three medalists are named, at 7 p.m. Also, if you’re going to be out of town, all six final concertos are being broadcast by Fathom Events at movie theaters across the U.S. To find locations, go to

7. What’s the etiquette at the competition?

Keep your cellphone off, no conversation during performances and no coughing while they’re playing. The performances are recorded, and all those sounds could mar the recordings, which would “deprive Cliburn winners of important opportunities for international exposure,” says an audience information sheet provided at the competition. Be on time — you won’t be permitted inside while a pianist is onstage playing. You can watch on the big screen at Van Cliburn Recital Hall in Maddox-Muse Center across the street for free, or wait until the current pianist has finished to enter the hall. Don’t applaud between movements of a piece — you’ll know when the entire piece has ended when the pianist stands to take a bow.

8. Can I buy a souvenir?

Plenty are available at the Cliburn gift shop, staffed by volunteers in the lobby of Bass Hall. They include everything from T-shirts to silk scarves at price points from about $5 for a piano nail file to $100 for limited-edition posters signed by the competitors. Posters with finalists’ signatures only will be $150. Items also can be purchased online at

9. Where should I park?

You can park free in any Sundance Square Parking Garage after 5 p.m. weekdays and all weekend. You also can park free in the garages on weekdays with merchant validation — for example, your parking can be validated if you dine at a Sundance Square restaurant. Most garages are just a short walk to Bass Hall. For more about parking, visit

10. What about security?

A new Bass hall security policy that took effect in January means purses larger than 12 by 12 by 4 inches, backpacks, totes, shopping bags and luggage are not permitted in either Bass Hall or Maddox-Muse Center. Bags 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches and larger will be inspected. Staff will shine a small flashlight into your bag and move items aside with a stick to take a look.


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 is being 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