On Wednesday morning, the lobby of Bass Hall in Fort Worth was crammed with photographers, reporters, and news crews buzzing around the 30 young pianists gathered from around the world to compete in the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Guide starting tomorrow. A shiny pink Cadillac glimmered in the sun outside the hall. The six Italian pianists who were crammed into the car were wearing cowboy hats, laughing hysterically and totally hamming it up for the cameras.
Inside, 26-year-old Russian competitor Yuri Favorin tried to grab some breakfast between interviews. Before he could finish his muffin, he was whisked off to have his custom-fitting for a pair of Justin's cowboy boots. Favorin flew in on Monday from China where he played a concert over the weekend. This was not only his first trip to Texas, but his first time in the United States. He looked around with a sort of dazed, overwhelmed stare at the people, the cameras, the hats and the boots.
For the next three weeks, Fort Worth is going to be consumed by all things Cliburn, and most importantly, these 30 young pianists -- all between the ages of 18 and 30 -- will take the stage daily and play their hearts out. This competition only happens once every four years, so you don't want to miss it. Here's a run down of everything you need to know to follow the competition:
Twitter: You can get news and updates by following @TheCliburn on twitter. Of course there's a hashtag (#Cliburn2013) and someone has already started a hashtag for news about the six Italian competitors (#Italiansix)
Watch Online: This is not your average live stream. The Cliburn has hired a professional director (Academy Award nominee Christopher Wilkinson), producer (Lori Miller) and host (Jade Simmons) to create a high-quality multi-camera webcast. You can watch every performance live and for free at cliburn.org. Not a bad way to kill an hour at your desk.
Attend the Competition The competition is held in three rounds and single-tickets are available for each. The price goes up with each round, so if you want to catch a concert on the cheap, you might want to attend the preliminaries this weekend. All concerts are at Bass Hall and tickets are available at cliburn.org. Here's a rundown of the rounds and prices:
Preliminaries: May 24-30 from 11am to 10:10pm daily. All of the 30 contestants will perform twice during this round, playing two 45-minute recitals each. Tickets range from $10-$20.
Semi-finals: June 1-4 from 1:30pm to 10:40pm daily. Each of the remaining 12 contestants performs a 60-minute solo recital and a chamber work in collaboration with the Brentano String Quartet. During this round, each competitor will also perform a contemporary piece by composer Christopher Theofanidi, commissioned specifically for the Cliburn competition. Tickets range from $25-$65.
Final Round: June 6-8 from 7:30-10:30pm and June 9 from 3-5:30pm. The final six each perform two piano concerti with the Fort Worth Symphony. Tickets range from $40-$135.
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The Awards Ceremony: June 9 at 7pm. Tickets range from $30-$50. Listen on the Radio Classical station WRR 101.1 will broadcast the concerts from the final round only, June 6-9, so you can catch a little of the action on your drive home from work.
Free Screening If you live in Fort Worth and want to see what all the fuss is about without buying a ticket, all of the performances will be broadcast on the big screen inside the Van Cliburn Recital Hall at 330 E. Fourth St., Fort Worth. The audio and video quality here are great.
Vote Live and web-audiences can vote for their favorite competitor at cliburn.org. While you won't have any say in who gets the gold, the audience's favorite will take home $2500.
Pull for the Hometown Hero Dallas native Alex McDonald will perform in the preliminaries tomorrow, Friday May 24th at 4:50pm and Monday, May 27th at 9:25 pm.