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Van Cliburn Junior: A New Piano Competition Is Born

by Jerome Weeks 28 Jan 2014 5:25 PM

With its new contest for kids 13 to 17, its professional competition and its amateur competition for pianists older than 35, the Van Cliburn pretty much has classical keyboard players covered from cradle to grave. They also have a big media event happening almost every year.


shutterstock_148486631Images (above and out front)  from Shutterstock

The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition has announced it’s creating a junior version for pianists ages 13 to 17.  It will hold the first one in June next year. KERA’s Jerome Weeks files this report.

  • Fort Worth Star Telegram story
  • KERA radio report:
  • Online report:

The original Van Cliburn competition launches pianists into full-fledged careers with concerts and professional management. The big difference with the new junior contest? These are going to be high-schoolers. Jacques Marquis is the CEO of the Van Cliburn Foundation. He says, “From 13 to 17, you’re still growing, and what we want to do is not only to do a competition but give them some tools and also some ideas of a career by people who are already there You know, at 15, you think the career is winning a big competition and I’m on my way when actually a career is much more complex than that.”

The 24 contestants, chosen from around the world, will be vying for prizes up to $10,000. But Marquis stresses that for some contestants, this may also be their first chance to play with chamber groups and with a professional orchestra like the Fort Worth Symphony. They’ll take seminars on what it means to be a classical musician today. The junior competition is also a festival – there’ll be free recitals around Fort Worth.

For the Cliburn, the new junior competition extends the Cliburn brand name – not just to a younger age but in terms of our attention cycle. The Cliburn will be the only international piano competition to offer a professional contest one year, then a junior contest, then the amateur competition for people over 35.

As Marquis says, that’ll keep the brand name alive. Online applications and requirements will be available April 1.

The full release:

First Cliburn International Junior Competition
 June 21-28, 2015
Fort Worth, TX 
The Cliburn announces today that it will launch a brand new program in 2015 — a competition and festival for 13 to 17-year-old pianists. The First Cliburn International Junior Competition and Festival will take place June 21-28, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas in Ed Landreth Auditorium and PepsiCo Hall on the campus of TCU. 1997 Cliburn Gold Medalist, in-demand touring artist, and esteemed adjudicator Jon Nakamatsu will serve as jury chairman, and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will perform with each of three finalists under the baton of dynamic conductor Mei-Ann Chen. Competition performances will be webcast live at

“This will be a competition that will help us establish relationships with the top international talent at an earlier age,” said Jacques Marquis, Cliburn president and CEO, “but, just as importantly, this will be another means for the Cliburn to use its standing and expertise to encourage tomorrow’s great artists. We are providing a valuable forum for them to express themselves and an entrance to the next step of their journeys. The top international jurors, the media and webcast, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and the festival atmosphere — which will include performance experience and professional career advice — all make the Competition and Festival significantly useful for a student who has aspirations of being a professional musician.”

Applications for the Junior Competition, as well as full requirements for candidates, will be available at beginning April 1, 2014, and will be due January 9, 2015. Applicants must have been born between June 28, 1998, and June 21, 2002.

A screening jury will select 24 competitors through online applications and video submissions, which will be 15 to 20 minutes in length and include one étude, one movement of a Classical sonata, and one expressive Romantic work. (Works performed in screening videos can be repeated during Competition rounds, but no works can be repeated within Competition rounds.) Competitors will be announced to the public on March 20, 2015.

The Junior Competition will consist of four rounds:

PRELIMINARY ROUND–24 pianists, each performing a 20-minute recital to include a movement of a Classical sonata and a virtuosic étude.

QUARTERFINAL ROUND–12 pianists, each performing a 30-minute recital to include a Bach Prelude and Fugue and an expressive Romantic work.

SEMIFINAL ROUND–6 pianists, each performing a 40-minute recital (to include a modern/contemporary work) and one concerto movement with piano accompaniment.

FINAL ROUND–3 pianists, each performing one complete concerto with orchestra.
Please note that exact repertoire requirements will be posted at by April 1, 2014.

Competition Rounds will be open to the public; tickets will go on sale in early 2015.

The competitors will be housed on campus at TCU for the duration of the Competition and Festival. The Cliburn’s distinctive and dedicated volunteer force will support the event in areas such as hospitality, transportation, publicity, ushering, and gift shop–including a significant commitment of time from the Junior League of Fort Worth, the Cliburn’s partner since 1966.

The first prize winner will receive a cash award of $10,000; second prize is $5,000; and third prize is $2,500. All three top prizes will also include community residency and mentorship opportunities with the Cliburn.

The Cliburn will offer a variety of events aimed at the artistic advancement of the competitors and other pianists-seminars, symposia, chamber music collaboration, and more-as well as at sharing the gifts of elite young pianists with the community, through free recitals across Fort Worth. Schedule to be announced in 2015.