Despite the invasion of Ukraine, the Cliburn will allow 15 young pianists of Russian origin to compete
Hearing for the 16th Cliburn Piano Competition start this weekend – with 15 Russian-born pianists among the 72 coming to Fort Worth to compete for the international prize.
And there is also a Ukrainian.
Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Cliburn CEO Jacques Marquis said he would allow young Russian musicians to compete.
Marquis pitted them against Russian classical music celebrities whose international careers have recently taken a severe beating. These include conductor Valery Gergiev — the philharmonies of Munich and Rotterdam have severed their official ties with him.
At the same time, operatic soprano Anna Netrebko lost two seasons with the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The “big difference” between the musicians who were “banned”, Marquis said, and the young Russian competitors in Fort Worth, is that Gergiev and Netrebko have been strong supporters of Vladimir Putin. Gergiev is even a personal friend of the Russian president. Although Netrebko criticized the invasion, the two artists did not publicly comment on Putin’s leadership.
“In our case,” Marquis said, “we have young musicians between the ages of 18 and 28 who have been preparing for the opportunity to play at the Cliburn almost their entire lives.”
Until now, young Russians have had to get visas from outside Russia to compete in America — “which they had to do at their own expense,” Marquis said. “They also had to get vaccinated – twice – outside their country because Putin’s vaccine is not accepted here.”
And they had to organize their own flights – often on Turkish Airlines.
“So they do all of this – and they couldn’t compete?” Marquis said.
The Cliburn’s main mission, he continued, is to promote classical music, help young musicians “and be above politics – like Van in 1958”.
Marquis was referring to the origin and heritage of the Cliburnwhich was born at a time of similar tension in Cold War politics between the United States and the former Soviet Union.
The competition’s namesake, pianist Van Cliburn, traveled to Moscow in 1958 and won the first Tchaikovsky Piano Competition. It was just months after the successful launch of the Sputnik satellite by the Soviets had stunned the world – and left Americans looking nervously skyward.
The Soviets had also developed the Tchaikovsky as a cultural showcase for their own artists. But the young American won over the judges because his playing recalled the traditional, romantic Russian piano style that the judges themselves had grown up with but hadn’t heard in years.
Cliburn’s victory launched his long career – and more immediately, led to a ticker parade for him in New York as an American hero.
Some of the Russian competitors have already arrived in Fort Worth, Marquis said. An artistic bond remains with them all the time.
Even before Cliburn’s official announcement on Thursday about allowing the Russians to compete, Marquis said: “I’ve seen emails, text messages from them [to the liaison]saying “Thank you for all the effort, thank you for making this possible for us – you know, carrying this Van Cliburn vision that music transcends everything.”
Clipurn’s press release:
CLIBURN OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING RUSSIAN PIANISTS PARTICIPATING IN PRE-SELECTION AUDITIONS, MARCH 6-12
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FORT WORTH, Texas, March 3, 2022—Today the Cliburn issues the following official statement:
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is reprehensible and heartbreaking. The Cliburn strongly opposes and condemns this tyranny. The Russian-born pianists who applied for the Sixteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition are not government officials, and their participation in the Cliburn is not sponsored by the state. Therefore, in the vision of our namesake and inspiration, Van Cliburn, and our mandate to support young artists – which is at the very heart of our mission – Russian-born pianists will be allowed to audition for the Cliburn Competition.
The story of Van Cliburn and his Cold War victory at the First International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow inspired the world as a testament to the transcendence of art, even in the most tense moments between two superpowers. As he said himself: “Since we know that classical music is timeless and eternal, it is precisely the eternal truths inherent in classical music that remain a spiritual beacon for people around the world”.
Of the 72 pianists invited to take part in next week’s selection auditions for the 2022 Cliburn Competition, 15 were born in Russia; eight of them currently reside in Moscow. These young and brilliant artists went through an intense and complicated situation to ensure that they would be able to come to Fort Worth for the chance to compete on one of the greatest stages in classical music – for their chance to live their dreams.
They have spent most of their lives preparing for this opportunity. The stakes are high. One of our current candidates sent us this week this note: “I hope the great positive impact that Maestro Van Cliburn had on the course of the Cold War will be a great example for all artists.” And another: “I pray that we give music a chance to be the ambassador of peace and love that it has always been.” We look forward to hearing each of our participants do just that.
ABOUT PRE-SELECTION AUDITIONS
Screening auditions for the sixteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will be held March 6-12, 2022 at PepsiCo Recital Hall on the TCU campus. Seventy-two pianists representing 22 countries were selected from a record pool of 388 applicants to come to Fort Worth to audition. Auditions are open to the public and free. For the full schedule, details and list of pianists, visit cliburn.org/2022screeningauditions.
ABOUT THE CliBURN CONTEST
Widely regarded as one of the most important international music competitions, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (sixteenth edition, June 2-18, 2022) exists to share excellent classical music with as wide an international audience as possible and to launch the careers of its winners every four years. . Building on a rich tradition that began with its origins in 1962 in honor of Van Cliburn and his vision of using music to serve audiences and break down boundaries, the Cliburn seeks, with each edition, to achieve the highest artistic standards while using contemporary tools to advance its reach. The world’s best young pianists compete for gold in front of a live audience in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as a global online audience of over 10 million viewers. Beyond cash prizes, earning a Cliburn Medal means comprehensive career management, artistic support and enhanced publicity efforts for the next three years.
For more details on the 2022 Competition, visit: cliburn.org/2022-cliburn-contest.