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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”