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The 16th Van Cliburn Piano Competition is Underway

Featured, Lifestyle

Cliburn Foundation President and CEO Jacque Marquis and Chairman Jeff King with the thirty competitors. | Image by Ralph Lauer, The Cliburn

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Thirty pianists will perform in the 16th Van Cliburn Piano Competition in Fort Worth. The event has been held every four years since its inception in 1962.

This year, the pianists will compete for prizes worth $265,000. They will also receive management services that are worth over a million dollars. Each contestant will go through four rounds of competition, including solo recitals and concerto performances with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. The chamber music round that was once part of the competition has been eliminated.

“We’re not pretentious enough to say that this is the only way a great talent can rise,” Jacques Marquis, president and CEO of the Cliburn, previously told The Dallas Morning News, “but we can surely help to get attention and awareness.”

The preliminary and quarterfinal rounds were held at Texas Christian University’s new Van Cliburn Concert Hall on June 2-4 and 5-6, respectively. The semifinal and final rounds run from June 8-12 and June 14-18 at the Bass Performance Hall at Fourth and Commerce in downtown Fort Worth.

Dmytro Choni, a 28-year-old Ukrainian, is among the competitors this year.

After Russia’s invasion, his family fled Kyiv. Choni lives in Graz, Austria, but still maintains ties to his Ukrainian relatives and friends. Choni told DMN that during auditions he stays focused on the music.

While many international competitions have barred Russians from entering after the invasion of Ukraine, the Van Cliburn competition has not done so. The Van Cliburn competition will include six Russian pianists, thus forming the largest group to compete from any country. Also participating are five pianists from China, four from South Korea, and three from the United States.

The competition is hosted by the Van Cliburn Foundation and is named in honor of Harvey Lavan “Van” Cliburn Jr. He was born in 1934 in Shreveport, Louisiana. When he was 23 years old, he won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958, at the height of the Cold War.

Cliburn later toured domestically and internationally, playing for royalty and heads of state and every U.S. president from Truman to Obama. Cliburn never served as a judge in the competition, though he sometimes attended performances. Van Cliburn passed away on February 27, 2013.     

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