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The Cliburn - Online and at the Movies

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Ralph Lauer
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May 22, 2017. Rachel Cheung plays the New York Steinway as she makes a piano selection for The Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition held at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas.

I think of it as the “piano Olympics,” but perhaps the best description of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition comes from the Boston Globe: “a cross between the Miss America Pageant, the Olympic Games, the Academy Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize.”

Every four years, since 1962, pianists from around the world gather in Fort Worth, Texas to compete for prizes and glory.

Previous Cliburn Gold winners include  Jon Nakamatsu, Vadym Koholodenko, and Olga Kern.

The 2017 Cliburn Competition runs from May 25th through June 10th. You can play along at home, watching these amazing pianists compete as soloists, as well as with chamber music and piano concertos through a web stream (I got absolutely sucked into watching the webcasts both four and eight years ago. I was not very good at figuring out who the judges would choose, but I discovered a lot of interesting piano music and developed more of a sense of taste in piano playing.)

For the first time in its history, the seventeen day competition will culminate on the big screen with concerto performances by six finalists with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Leonard Slatkin.

Three local movie theatres will be showing the screenings: Tinseltown, Regal Henrietta, and Eastview Mall, starting at 1pm (Eastern Time) on June 10th.  5 1 /2 hours is a lot of piano concertos, but it should be pretty amazing music. 

Mona Seghatoleslami is the host and producer on WXXI Classical 91.5 FM weekdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. She also hosts the lunchtime concert series Live From Hochstein Wednesdays at 12:10 p.m., interviews musicians, produces special programs, and works on any project she can find that helps connect people and music in our community through WXXI.