FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Dozens of the world’s most talented young pianists are in North Texas today — setting the stage for the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
Nearly 300 people, from around the world, applied to take part in the competition held each year in Fort Worth – but only 30 made the cut. Four of the more than two-dozen finalists are American, but all of those competing are between the ages of 18 and 30.
The field of pianists, consisting of 21 men and nine women, will be cut down in a series of rounds during the three-week piano contest being held at the Bass Performance Hall.
The event is named after the famous pianist Harvey Lavan “Van” Cliburn Junior, a Fort Worth native, who died in 2013. It was in 1958 when Van Cliburn won the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. The pianist went on to play for royalty, heads of state and every U.S. president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
Jacques Marquis, president and CEO of the Cliburn Foundation, explained that many of the young pianists hope to follow in Van Cliburn’s footsteps. “They’ve been playing the piano since they’re four and five… that means they are extremely achieved pianists and they’re looking to get in the career.”
The Van Cliburn Foundation has also partnered with the Paris-based classical music internet channel medici.tv to stream “live performances, announcements, interviews, featurettes, and other behind-the-scenes footage” on the Cliburn homepage.
To reach an even larger audience the competition will also broadcast the June 10 finals live on a screen in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square and at a number of movie theaters here in North Texas and across the country.
The first round of the Van Cliburn competition kicks off this afternoon at 2:30 and is open to the public – tickets are $10.