Van Cliburn Piano Competition Announces Final List of Competitors: Three With Local Ties

2009 Cliburn Gold Medalist Nobuyuki Tsujii
2009 Cliburn Gold Medalist Nobuyuki Tsujii

After listening to more than 130 hopeful pianists audition in six cities around the world, judges for the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition have chosen this year's 30 finalists.

Of those who made the cut into the esteemed Fort Worth competition, eight are from the United States. Italy shines a close second with six selected. Other competing countries represented include Russia, China, Chile, Japan, Poland, France, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, and the Ukraine.

Three of the top 30 announced today even have local ties. Marcin Koziak of Poland and YouYou Zhang from the United States are both current students at Texas Christian University, where Koziak studies with Tamás Ungár and Zhang with John Owings. A total of four TCU students auditioned for the competition in February.

Alex McDonald, a current doctoral student at the Juilliard School, grew up in the Dallas area where he studied piano for 13 years with local educator and Dallas Music Teacher's Association member Lois Nelson. At 30, McDonald is one of the oldest competitors in this year's Van Cliburn Competition (all participants must be between 18 and 30 years old).

From May 24th to June 9th, the 30 finalists announced today will compete in three elimination rounds during which they will play solo recitals, perform a commissioned work by an American composer, and play with a string quartet and symphony. At the end of the competition, winners will receive cash prizes ranging from $10,000-$50,000, as well as management contracts and touring engagements.

On Sunday, Van Cliburn, the competition's namesake who passed away last week, was memorialized at a funeral at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth. This year's competition is dedicated to his memory.

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