Skip directly to content

Classical Music World: Notes From Cliburn 11 And Final

on June 13, 2017 - 12:42pm

Yekwan Sunwoo of South Korea with his gold medal and the Van Cliburn trophy. Courtesy photo

Americans Daniel Hsu (bronze medalist) and Kenneth Broberg (silver medalist) share their excitement with gold medalist Yekwon Sunwoo. Courtesy photo

Gold medalist Yekown Sunwoo hugs his host mom. Courtesy photo


By Ann McLaughlin
Artistic Director
Los Alamos Concert Association

Fort Worth, proudly known as Cow Town, has been Piano Town for three weeks. The Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition came to a close there Saturday and what a close it was!

Bass Performance Hall was sold out two evenings in a row for final concerto performances by the six finalists. One block away, Sundance Square was packed with people watching those performances on a giant digital screen.

As we waited for the Cliburn jury to announce the outcome, we heard a lot of opinions about who should medal. I was pretty sure I knew who would take gold (others begged to differ), but silver and bronze were not obvious to anyone. The over-all level of the performances was so high that it was simply impossible to predict.

When the announcement finally came, Americans Kenneth Broberg and Daniel Hsu took silver and bronze respectively. They certainly impressed us often during their performances, but as I hoped, Korean Yekwan Sunwoo won the gold medal.

A few days ago during a panel discussion with the jury, someone in the audience asked what the jury was looking for in the competitors. Jury chairman Leonard Slatkin had a simple answer. He said that they look for someone they’d like to hear again. That is exactly why I was pulling for Sunwoo. I really want to hear him play again so watch for him to perform in the Smith Auditorium some time in the next three years!