Two doctors and a retired computer programmer took top honors at the 6th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. It ended Sunday in Fort Worth. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports on the winners, including one home-town favorite.
Fourteen years ago, Christopher Shih made it to the Cliburn competition for young pianists. He says he entered that one for the experience, not to be a professional musician, and did not advance. He was in medical school at the time. Today he’s a gastroenterologist in Maryland, and still plays. He was back in Fort Worth this past week for the Cliburn Amateur, and this this time, Christopher Shih won. He also took the prize for best romantic performance. The doctor was thrilled.
Doctor Christopher Shih: The goal is to come and try to play as best as I can and do the music justice, to partake in the social experience with everyone here and the really talented colleagues. So of course the winning is nice, because this it’s amateur competition, because we don’t need it to put food on the table the winning is not as important
Second place winner Clark Griffith agrees. The Fort Worth resident climbed up one slot from his ranking in 2007. And he took the prize for best Baroque era performance
Griffith: I am completely satisfied. I was glad to spend time with this magnificent piano. The results are just lots of candy and gravy and fun.
That’s essentially what all the competitors said. They played for the love of classical music. They said entering for any other reason missed the point. Pianist and physician Barry Coutinho, originally from India, finished 3rd. The next Cliburn Amateur competition occurs 4 years from now.