News / Arts & Entertainment

World Class Pianists Vie for Van Cliburn Prize

Gold Medal winner Vadym Kholodenko, 26, of Ukraine, performs during final rounds of the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 9, 2013. (Carolyn Cruz/ The Cliburn)
Gold Medal winner Vadym Kholodenko, 26, of Ukraine, performs during final rounds of the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 9, 2013. (Carolyn Cruz/ The Cliburn)
Gail Wein
A 26 year old from Ukraine has won one of music's most prestigious competitions.

Vadym Kholodenko took home top honors after a series of masterful performances at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

World class

Every four years, since 1962, pianists have come from all over the world to compete in the competition. 

Kholodenko was one of 30 competitors, age 19 to 30, who gathered in Fort Worth, Texas this month to perform before a panel of jurors who are experts in the piano world, as well as a live public audience and thousands who watched the live webcasts. After a series of recitals and chamber music performances, six finalists were selected.

To get to the finals of the Van Cliburn competition takes years of study, countless hours of practice and nerves of steel.

Listen to the audio
World Class Pianists Vie for Van Cliburn Prizei
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Sean Chen, from southern California, one of six finalists, had been building up to this point all of his life.

"Cliburn has one of the largest reaching influences of any competition," Chen said. "All finalists get management...all of the finalists get concerts in the next four years. That’s the most important thing for any up-and-coming young artist."

Goose bumps

The judges have a tough job. Every pianist they’ve heard during the preliminary and semi-final rounds of the competition is hugely accomplished, has astonishing technical skills, and gives thoroughly artistic interpretations of the music.

They all sound spectacular, even to the well-trained ear.  So, the judges look for nuances.

"It’s not a matter of judging technical prowess, that’s almost  taken for granted," said John Giordano, the competition's jury chairman who has been on the jury since 1973. "Some aspects are pretty simple. Do I want to hear this person again? Sometimes, it’s something as simple as goose bumps...if they miss notes and the message is there, and it really reaches you, you ignore that."
Crystal winner Sean Chen (left) silver medalist Beatrice Rana (center) and winner Vadym Kholodenko (right) in the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 9, 2013. (Ralph Lauer/ The Cliburn)Crystal winner Sean Chen (left) silver medalist Beatrice Rana (center) and winner Vadym Kholodenko (right) in the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 9, 2013. (Ralph Lauer/ The Cliburn)
All in all, it’s extremely high-pressure with grindingly stiff competition. But for young pianists, like silver medalist Beatrice Rana, who is from Italy, it’s worth it.

"Because it’s one of most important piano competitions in the world, and it’s one of the few competitions that can provide a stable career for the finalists," Rana said. "I think a good placement in the Cliburn can provide a wonderful future for someone that aspires to be a concert pianist."

Elite musicians

​This is the first competition since its namesake, Van Cliburn, passed away in February from bone cancer. 

Cliburn became a household name in 1958 when he took first prize in another famous piano competition, the Tchaikovsky, in Moscow. He was the first non-Russian to win, a significant victory during the Cold War era. Cliburn was honored with a ticker-tape parade on his return to the United States.

After hearing dozens of solo recitals, chamber music performances and concerts performed with the Fort Worth Symphony, the judges deliberated about who would take home the top prize.  Suspense was high in the auditorium when the announcement was made Sunday night.

Kholodenko joins the elite club of Van Cliburn winners, who are ranked among classical music’s leading concert artists.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."