The Steinway pianos are quiet today. For the first time since the the Seventh Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition began on Saturday, there will be no performances for the entire day.
For the six finalists, however, the work is just beginning. Tomorrow, the amateur pianists who made it from the initial field of 68 competitors to the final six will play with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in Bass Performance Hall.
The finalists are: Xavier Aymonod, 40, strategy consultant (France); Matthias Fischer, 42, physician (Germany); Ken Iisaka, 47, software engineer (Japan/Canada); Gregory Knight, 53, software engineer (United States); Michael Slavin, 65, retired ophthalmologist (United States); and Thomas Yu, 38, periodontist (Canada).
For many amateur pianists, this is the first or one of the few opportunities they will have to play with an orchestra, says Sandra Doan, director of artistic planning at the Cliburn.
“They’re very excited about it,” Doan says, “and a little nervous, of course.”
Though they have logged far fewer hours on the stage than their professional counterparts, the amateurs are no less passionate about piano, and Doan is confident that the finalists will mesh well with the ensemble.
Being an amateur “takes some of the pressure off of them,” says Doan, “but I think that for a lot of them, piano is necessary for their lives. So it’s fun for us to be able to offer them this opportunity to play with an orchestra, which is every pianists’ dream.”
Each pianist will play one movement of a concerto, Beethoven, Mozart or Saint-Saëns, which they have prepared beforehand. The concert will take place on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. The awards ceremony will follow the concert.