Ghada Burton Discusses How the Cliburn Piano Competition Brings Together Musicians from Across the Globe!
The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and Festival is one of Texas’ most prominent music competitions which is held every four years in Fort Worth. An epic display of talent, the Festival brings together musicians from across the globe to compete for cash prizes and the chance to play at world-famous international venues. The competition is named after pianist Van Cliburn, the first American to win Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition in 1963. Avid piano player Ghada Burton states that today’s music aficionados can listen live to the competitors online throughout the event or watch it on YouTube.com/the Cliburn.
In 2015 the Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival was launched to recognize pianists ages 13 to 17, (the Junior Competition). It was created to offer a valuable forum for our youthful talents and to recognize them as the great artists of tomorrow. Held in Dallas, the first junior competition included performers from 26 countries and a live webcast with more than 100,000 viewers throughout 170 countries.
The Junior Competition
The second Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival took place May 31–June 8 of this year in Dallas, Texas. It attracted 230 applicants from 32 countries and named three outstanding winners ages 15–17. Contestants took part in semifinal competition on the campus of Southern Methodist University and the final competition was held at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Ghada Burton says that each of the festival’s three finalists performed one complete piano concerto along with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. This year’s competition allowed 23 participants to engage with the world’s top pianists and teachers through master classes, workshops and community performances.
Each of the event finalists received music scholarships, as well as residency and mentorship opportunities with the Cliburn organization. The winners included 16-year old Shuan Hern Lee of Australia ($15,000 first prize); 15-year old Eva Gevorgyan of Russia ($10,000 second prize); and 17-year old JiWon Yang of South Korea ($5,000 third prize).
The competition’s first prize winner, a prodigy from Australia, is the child of two piano teachers who has been traveling internationally for recitals and competitions since he was 4. Shuan Hern Lee began playing the piano when he was 2 ½., He earned 11 first-place awards at top piano competitions and made it to the semi-final round of TV show Australia’s Got Talent when he was only 7 years old.
The Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
The fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition took place in May and June of 2017, with musicians competing on a newly commissioned work from a member of the jury, pianist and composer Marc-André Hamelin; called ‘Toccata on L’homme armé’. The competition’s gold medalist was Yekwon Sunwoo, 27 years old and the first Korean artist to win the competition’s top prize. Yekwon began playing the piano at the age of 8 and by 15 he was giving recitals in Seoul and debuted with its orchestra. He also attended the Seoul Arts High School. Sunwoo gave his Carnegie Hall debut in New York City in 2009 after winning the 2008 Florida International Piano Competition.
The competition’s silver medal went to American pianist Kenneth Broberg from California, who has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and Fort Worth Symphony. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2017 as part of the Concert Artists Guild Winners Series. The competition’s bronze medalist was Rachel Cheung, a pianist from Kowloon, Hong Kong.
The sixteenth Van Cilburn competition will take place in May and June of 2021. Ghada Burton highly recommends learning more about one of the US’s most prestigious piano competitions, the Van Cliburn International; and watching recordings of these youthful talents as they mesmerized the audience with their exceptional skills and abilities by playing some of the most difficult piano concertos this year. Their dedication, musicality and enthusiasm are not to be missed!