Van Cliburn Blog

Cliburn screening jury makes its way through European auditions

The Cliburn screening jury enjoys a meal in Hannover, Germany.
The Cliburn screening jury enjoys a meal in Hannover, Germany.

Editor’s note: Cliburn CEO Jacques Marquis is blogging for Star-Telegram readers exclusive news and notes from the 2017 competition screening auditions, which will conclude in Fort Worth next month.

This journey to find the 30 candidates for the next Cliburn Competition is really on its way. So far, we have listened to 46 candidates (in London and Hannover), and we’ve already heard a lot of repertoire (Schumann is especially popular this year).

To go through the Cliburn, you need a lot of repertoire, so it makes sense that the average age of competitors is about 25 years old. Considering that most of them began the piano at age 4 or 5, this means they have around 20 years of experience.

Our last day in Hannover, we heard seven candidates from seven countries (Germany, South Korea, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Poland, Italy). And in the coming years, we will continue to expand our artistic activities and brand in Europe and Asia.

The screening jury is working hard. They are very attentive to every competitor, and if I was one of the applicants, I would be happy to play in front of this group of jurors. Juror Jamie Parker is the most active on social media and is posting tours, pictures and comments, etc.

Usually, the sessions begin in the afternoon, and competitors each need some good warm-up time just before they go on. (We have quite a lot of piano needs, as you can imagine. Fortunately, that work is done by the Cliburn main office, and I only make sure that everybody is happy.)

By the way, that is my job here: making everybody happy and worry-free, managing any problems that arise, and working with the venue on keeping a tight schedule.

A happy jury will listen better and will work better. At the end, we will have spent around six weeks together; a typical day has been four candidates in the daytime and three at night. That is almost five hours of music per day.

For now, jurors are keeping their evaluations to themselves. At the end, though, they will have to come up with 30 recommendations each for who should make it into the main competition in Fort Worth. Next stops: Budapest, and then Moscow, where we will be until Friday.

Carnet de voyage: Keeping the jury happy also means providing good food (but not too much — we can’t have jurors falling asleep). I try to find good restaurants, but nothing too expensive. So far, we have been to Indian, Vietnamese, Syrian, English and Italian (twice) restaurants. Coffee (espresso) is always welcome at any hour of the day.

Stay tuned.