MCANA / Cliburn Institute – 2009





JUNE 7, 2009, FORT WORTH, TEXAS–Tonight, the Van Cliburn Foundation announced the winners of the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The announcement, made by Van Cliburn during the Awards Ceremony at the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, was the culmination of seventeen exciting days of extraordinary music making.

The 2009 Cliburn winners are:

Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Gold Medalists (tie for first):
Mr. Nobuyuki Tsujii, 20 (Japan)
Mr. Haochen Zhang, 19 (China)

The First Prize includes the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Gold Medal; a cash award of $20,000; international and national concert tours for the three seasons following the competition, coordinated by the Van Cliburn Foundation in conjunction with IMG Artists Europe; a CD recording on the harmonia mundi usa label; performance attire provided by Neiman Marcus; and a contribution toward domestic and international air travel on American Airlines during the three-year tour.

Mr. Tsujii and Mr. Zhang were the two youngest pianists in the 2009 Competition.

The last time that the Cliburn Competition awarded a tie for the gold medal was in 2001, to Stanislav Ioudenitch and Olga Kern.

Silver Medalist:
Ms. Yeol Eum Son, 23 (South Korea)

The Second Prize includes a silver medal; a cash award of $20,000; U.S. concert tours and career management for the three concert seasons following the competition; and a CD recording on the harmonia mundi usa label.

The Crystal Award was not awarded this year.

Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Mr. Evgeni Bozhanov, 25 (Bulgaria)
Ms. Mariangela Vacatello, 27 (Italy)
Ms. Di Wu, 24 (China)

All finalists receive a cash award of $10,000 and U.S. concert tours and career management for the three concert seasons following the competition.

Additional awards given to pianists at the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition included:

Semifinalists: $5,000 each
Mr. Ran Dank, 27 (Israel)
Mr. Alessandro Deljavan, 22 (Italy)
Ms. Kyu Yeon Kim, 23 (South Korea)
Mr. Eduard Kunz, 28 (Russia)
Ms. Andrea Lam, 27 (Australia)
Mr. Michail Lifits, 26 (Germany)

Steven De Groote Memorial Award for the Best Performances of Chamber Music: $3,000 each
Mr. Evgeni Bozhanov, 25 (Bulgaria)
Ms. Yeol Eum Son, 23 (South Korea)

Beverley Taylor Smith Award for the Best Performance of a New Work: $5,000
Mr. Nobuyuki Tsujii, 20 (Japan)

John Giordano Jury Chairman Discretionary Award: $4,000
Mr. Lukas Vondracek, 22 (Czech Republic)

Raymond E. Buck Jury Discretionary Award: $4,000
Mr. Alessandro Deljavan, 22 (Italy)

Jury Discretionary Award: $4,000
Mr. Eduard Kunz, 28 (Russia)
Awarded by the Neal Steffen Memorial Foundation.

Winners’ Engagements
The six winners of the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will share more than 300 concert engagements throughout the United States during the three seasons following the competition, coordinated by the Van Cliburn Foundation. The gold medalist will also be awarded concerts in Europe, Asia, and other international territories through IMG Artists (Europe). Presenters who have already offered engagements include the Rochester Philharmonic and the Colorado, Dallas, San Diego, and Utah Symphony Orchestras, as well as noted recital series presenters in Boston, Houston, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Among the concert engagements the gold medal winners will share are performances at the Aspen Music Festival, and at London’s prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall in March 2010 (arranged by IMG Artists).

The Live Webcast
The entire Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was streamed in real time to tens of thousands of viewers worldwide. Hosted by Jade Simmons, pianist and arts advocate, along with co-hosts Shields-Collins Bray, the Cliburn’s artistic director of special programs and Steve Cumming, radio broadcaster and competition announcer, the website offered the most expansive coverage of any competition to date. Viewers enjoyed backstage coverage of rehearsals, as well as performances, competitor vignettes, symposia delivered by members of the press, jury, foreign diplomats, and Maestro James Conlon, blogs, numerous short features on the Foundation’s history, an online audience vote (nonbinding), and streaming commentary. The website offered unlimited access to viewers around the world.

As of June 6, the webcast player has received 231,265 visits from people in 132 countries. The most viewed performance was Evgeni Bozhanov’s Final Round recital.

Internet Vote
Held during each round of the competition, the audience vote allowed viewers to weigh their opinions against the jury’s. Online voting did not influence the outcome of each round, but the audience favorites were recognized during the Awards Ceremony.

Viewers’ selections were as follows:

Ms. Mariangela Vacatello – 23.9%
Mr. Nobuyuki Tsujii – 22.6%
Ms. Yeol Eum Son – 15.9%

Nobuyuki Tsujii – 12.6%
Evgeni Bozhanov – 12.5%
Di Wu – 10.5%
Haochen Zhang – 10.2%
Mariangela Vacatello – 9.8%
Yeol Eum Son – 9.4%
During the Semifinal Round, online audiences picked the very same six pianists who advanced to the finals.

Stephen Beus – 6.5%
Nobuyuki Tsujii – 6.0%
Spencer Myer – 5.9%
Eduard Kunz – 5.5%
Di Wu – 5.3%
Mariangela Vacatello – 5.3%
Lukas Vondracek – 5.0%
Zhang Zuo – 5.0%
Andrea Lam – 4.7%
Vassilis Varvaresos – 4.7%
Evgeni Bozhanov – 4.6%
Haochen Zhang – 4.4%
The seven–marked in bold–were also chosen by the jury and advanced to the semifinals.

Cliburn Competition Blog
The Cliburn 2009 posted blogs in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Contributing writers included Ken Iisaka and Mari Yoshihara, Patricia Tsai, Yanxinjia Chen, Hyo-won Lee, Mike Winter, and Michael Hawley. Mr. Iisaka and Mr. Hawley, former competitors in the Cliburn’s International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, and Mr. Winter, a music journalist and former orchestra manager, blogged in English; Ms. Yoshihara, a professor of American Studies at the University of Hawaii and Ms. Tsai, who reports for the Dallas Chinese Daily, blogged in Chinese; Ms. Chen, a music student at the New England Conservatory, blogged in Japanese; Ms. Lee, a reporter for the Korea Times, blogged in Korean. The blogs will remain archived on the Foundation’s website and available for viewing following the competition.

Cliburn 50th Anniversary Documentary
A documentary film combining footage from the 2009 Competition and scenes from earlier Peabody and Emmy Award-winning Cliburn documentaries will be produced for national (PBS) and international distribution in the near future in honor of the Cliburn Competition’s 50th anniversary. The 50th anniversary documentary will be available for purchase along with past documentaries following the broadcast.

Radio Broadcasts
One of two concerti by each of the three medalists will be broadcast nationally in full by American Public Media’s Performance Today, and worldwide by the European Broadcasting Union.

Winners’ Biographies
Evgeni Bozhanov, 24 (Bulgaria)
Evgeni Bozhanov was born in Rousse, Bulgaria, and made his orchestral debut with his hometown orchestra at age twelve. Currently pursuing post-graduate studies at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule in Duesseldorf, Germany, he earned top prizes at both the 2008 Casagrande (Terni, Italy), and Sviatoslav Richter (Moscow, Russia) competitions. Also first-prize winner at the Carl Beckstein Competition in 2006, he has performed in several major concert halls in Germany and looks forward to a tour of Italian cities.

Yeol Eum Son, 23 (South Korea)
Yeol Eum Son has performed with the Israel, New York, Seoul, and Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestras, among other noted orchestras. Third-prize winner of the 2005 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition, Ms. Son has made debuts at several international music festivals, including the Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw, the Rheingau Festival in Germany, and the Bowdoin Festival in the United States. She currently studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover, Germany, and has recorded a CD of Chopin etudes for Universal Music in Korea.

Nobuyuki Tsujii, 20 (Japan) Nobuyuki Tsujii’s performance credits include the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux, Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. At the age of twelve, he made noted recital debuts at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. An acclaimed debut album released by Avex classics in 2007 led to a fifteen-city tour of Japan and a second CD featuring Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, released in 2008. Blind since birth, Mr. Tsujii states his firm belief that “there are no barriers in the field of music.” He participates in the performer’s program at the Ueno Gakuen College of Music in Tokyo.

Mariangela Vacatello, 27 (Italy)
Born in Naples to a musical family, Mariangela Vacatello made her official debut in Milan with the Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra when she was fourteen. At seventeen, she was second-prize winner of the 1999 Liszt Piano Competition (Utrecht, Netherlands), and in 2005 she was awarded the same distinction at the Busoni Competition (Italy). Ms. Vacatello has performed in Italy’s most renowned concert halls and festivals. Recent international engagements include recitals at Brussels’ Palais des Beaux Arts, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Montpellier Festival and Salle Cortot in France, and extensive tours throughout Mexico and South Africa. She is a graduate of both the Piano Academy “Incontri col Maestro” in Imola, Italy, and of London’s Royal Academy of Music.

Di Wu, 24, (China)
Recently singled out by Musical America as a young artist to watch, Di Wu made her orchestral debut with the Beijing Symphony at age fourteen. She is currently enrolled in Juilliard’s artist diploma program and has performed with the National, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras, and twice with the New York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. International engagements include recitals at the Busoni International Piano Festival in Italy and at Germany’s Klavier Festival Ruhr, as well as at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Winner of Juilliard’s 2009 William Petschek Award, Ms. Wu will make her Alice Tully Hall recital debut at Lincoln Center in May 2009.

Haochen Zhang, 19 (China)
The youngest participant in the 2009 Cliburn Competition, Haochen Zhang gave his debut recital at the Shanghai Music Hall at the age of five, performing all of Bach’s two-part inventions, as well as sonatas by Haydn and Mozart. He performed with orchestra at age six, and moved to the United States at fifteen to attend the Curtis Institute of Music. First- prize winner of the 2007 China International Piano Competition, Mr. Zhang has performed with the China National Symphony Orchestra, Krakow State Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and has concertized throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. He also excels at ping pong and enjoys writing poetry.

Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
A total of 225 pianists from around the world applied to the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Following an extensive screening process, the applications were whittled down to just over 150 pianists (representing thirty-seven countries). These pianists were invited to participate in the worldwide Screening Audition Recitals held in Shanghai, China; Hannover, Germany; St. Petersburg, Russia; Lugano, Switzerland; and in the United States in New York, New York and Fort Worth, Texas during January and February 2009, from which the thirty pianists were selected to compete. The screening recitals, free and open to the public, were presided over by a five-member jury who are also members of the Cliburn 2009 competition jury.

On March 1, the thirty pianists (thirteen women and seventeen men ranging in age from nineteen to thirty) selected to compete were announced. (One competitor was forced to withdraw just prior to the competition due to an injury, resulting in a final competitor pool of twenty-nine.) Fourteen countries were represented by competitors at the Cliburn 2009: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.

During the Cliburn 2009, twenty-nine pianists performed fifty-minute solo recitals in the Preliminary Round, from which twelve advanced to the Semifinal Round. During the second round, each pianist performed a sixty-minute solo recital featuring one of the winning contemporary pieces from the Foundation’s third American Composers Invitational, and a piano quintet with the Takács Quartet, one of the world’s premier string quartets. The six pianists selected to advance to Final Round performed fifty- minute solo recitals and two concerti with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, led by Maestro James Conlon, one of classical music’s preeminent conductors and music director of the Los Angeles Opera, the Ravinia Festival, and the Cincinnati May Festival.

Jurors of the Thirteenth Competition
The Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Jury consisted of eleven respected artists and experts in the classical music world: Maestro John Giordano, chairman, music director emeritus of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, and distinguished fellow in music at TCU; Marcello Abbado, former director of the Milan Conservatory and founder of Milan’s Symphonic Orchestra Verdi; Dmitri Alexeev, pianist; Michel Beroff, pianist, conductor, and faculty member of the Paris Conservatoire; Hung-Kuan Chen, chairman of the Shanghai Conservatory piano department and director of its International Piano Academy; Richard Dyer, writer, lecturer, and former chief music critic for the Boston Globe; Joseph Kalichstein, first chamber music adviser to the Kennedy Center and founding member of the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio; Yoheved Kaplinsky, chair of the piano department at the Juilliard School in New York and professor of piano at TCU; Jürgen Meyer-Josten, former head of music of Bavarian Radio in Munich, and director of the International Music Competition of the Broadcasting Companies of Germany in Munich; Menahem Pressler, pianist and founder of the Beaux Arts Trio, and Tadeusz Strugala, conductor, and professor at Poland’s Krakow Music Academy.

Press Information

Photos of all twenty-nine competitors from the competition are available for download at cliburnfoundation on the Foundation’s website at www.cliburn.or g.

ExxonMobil is the Principal Corporate Sponsor of the Van Cliburn Foundation. American Airlines, Bank of America, City of Fort Worth, J.P.Morgan, Star-Telegram, Steinway & Sons, and XTO Energy Inc. are Official Corporate Sponsors, and RadioShack is the Cliburn’s Corporate Sponsor. Official Sponsors are the Amon G. Carter Foundation, Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Beaumont Foundation of America, the Burnett Foundation, the Sid W. Richardson Foundation, and the T. Boone Pickens Foundation. Star- Telegram is the principal media partner and WRR 101.1 FM is the official radio station of Cliburn Concerts.

Sevan Melikyan, Dir. of Marketing and P.R.
Cell: 682.564.5613

National Public Relations:
Laura Grant
Cell: 917.359.7319