Tuesday, 14 May 2013


The 14th International Van Cliburn International Piano Competition 2013 starts next week! Thirty pianists will vie for one of the biggest bounties in the world's fellowship of piano competitions. Since the last update, two new entrants have been included into the Preliminary Rounds. They are Nikita Abrosimov (Russia) and Yekwon Sunwoo (South Korea), who will replace  YouYou Zhang(USA) and  Hyung-Min Suh(South Korea), both of whom have retired from the competition with no reasons given.  Predictably enough, the retirement of one Juilliard alumnus has been offset by another Juilliard alumnus entering the fray. 

The pianists have also been given a chance to change their repertoire, and 28 out of the 30 candidates originally named did so, presumably to enhance their chances of progression from the Preliminary round. They must have looked at each other's submitted repertoire and decided to play to their own strengths. As a result, Schoenberg's Six Little Pieces have been dropped by two pianists, probably in favour of more virtuosic repertoire. Only two pianists' repertoire remained unchanged, that of Sean Chen (USA) and Nikolay Khozyainov (Russia). I am particularly looking forward to Chen's second recital, which consists of just Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata. May his courage be amply rewarded.

As for the jury, Minoru Nojima (Japan, above), a former Van Cliburn laureate himself, seems to be in two places at one time. He has been listed as a judge at both the Van Cliburn and the Queen Elisabeth International Piano Competitions. Both competitions overlap each other. The Cliburn begins on 24 May while the QE ends on 1 June! Perhaps he is judging the first and second rounds of the Brussels concours (which are completed on 18 May) and flying trans-Atlantic to Fort Worth to judge the Cliburn from the start. If so, he is truly a jet-setting judge! 

As of this time, Yoheved Kaplinsky of the Juilliard School remains a judge at the Cliburn.

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