The Cliburn International Piano competition ends tomorrow, and for the first time in it 55-year history, you can watch the final concerts and the winners’ ceremony at a theater near you. Saturday’s events will stream live on movie screens nationwide.
It’s an effort to draw attention to the Cliburn’s brand, says Jacques Marquis, the Cliburn Foundation President.
“We have a fantastic name known as being excellent – Van Cliburn himself. We strive to keep the brand of excellence, which is good, but also to reach more people. Because I think being accessible is important and was important to Van as well.“
Taking one of the world’s premiere music competitions into 300 cinemas may be risky. Marquis says it costs more than $100,000 to put Saturday’s last day of competition – and the award ceremony – into movie houses. He calls it an investment. And he is banking on the excitement of a live event.
“The Cliburn is a competition. It’s like a hockey game, a football game. You have to be there now, because if you know the score afterwards, not interesting.”
Kymberli Frueh says a theater also bonds people. She’s programming Vice President at Fathom Events. For a decade Fathom has put New York’s Metropolitan Operas in movie theaters. Now it’s handling the Cliburn.
“There is something magical that happens when you enter an auditorium anonymous and you come out, or you become part of a community that’s rooting on your favorites. You don’t get that kind of experience sitting at home and watching it by yourself.”
Marquis wants to spread that magic.
The Canadian-born hockey player with classical piano training also knows there’s controversy around his competition. Some say music’s not sport and declaring winners and losers can hurt. Marquis says just playing at the Cliburn – medal or not – changes lives.
“Yes, there’s a competition involved, but what we do is bring a lot of awareness to the exceptional talents here in Fort Worth.”
Cliburn in theaters will feature not just the remaining live concertos and awards ceremonies, but interviews and recorded performances by the six finalists.