Tuesday, 28 May 2013

People-Watching at THE CLIBURN Part 1: New Friends

One of the most interesting non-musical aspects of coming to witness the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition are the people you get to meet. After a long day's sitting in Bass Performance Hall at watching pianists do their stuff, there's no better end than relaxing at the Van Cliburn Suite, on the 11th floor of the Worthington Renaissance Hotel, which is the competition's hospitality suite for guests, invitees and judges. You'll never know who you'll meet, where friendships and alliances get forged. 

Merits of pianists and performances get discussed, than dissected. Bold predictions are made, sometimes fulfilled and sometimes dashed, and there is no end of interest to the debates started. The subject of Van Cliburn the man invariably crops up, as memories and tributes flow. Predictably, competition judges avoid this room. If they do come, they grab a quick drink or some nuts, and then beat a hasty retreat to the safety of their rooms.     

Pianist Elizabeth Carr wrote the official biography
of the Russian pianist Shura Cherkassky.

Elizabeth Carr and her husband Richard Casper,
who was once a classmate of Van Cliburn at Juilliard.
The friendly Steffen twins, Katey and Kelsey,
are among 1200 volunteers at the Cliburn. 
Diane Kramer is the very nice lady who helps man
the Van Cliburn Suite, and makes sure everybody
gets well fed and watered.

The ubiquitous Dr Gustav Alink, aka Mr Piano Competition,
with Whitney Womack of the VC.
Regulars of the VC: Sally Sonnier and Alissa Ford
of the Competition (left), and Bruce Williams PhD.

Arguably the most colourful character at the Cliburn
is "Ol" Ron DeFord of Austin TX, a retired US Marine.
Samantha Stewart was most kind to drive from
DFW Airport to the Competition and back.
She is married to a surgeon and has a fashion blog too.

Not from the Van Cliburn Piano Competition,
nice folks at Ojos Locos sportsbar and diner
in Veterans Day colours.

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