van cliburn amateur competition
fort worth, texas
After years away from the piano, and some gentle prodding from Richard Rodzinski, I entered the first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, held in Fort Worth in June, 1999. The format was three rounds (preliminary:10 mins, semifinal:20 mins, finals:30 mins), and contestants were asked to choose their own repertoire (pieces could be repeated across rounds). My program was:
When the moment of truth came, I found I was the 97th person to play, and most of the opening repertoire had been pretty tame (over a dozen Chopin ballades, lots of Beethoven, etc). So rather than play the whole Bach fantasy & fugue, which might have left everyone feeling like they had just spent 10 minutes in a Lutheran church, I decided to drop the fugue and use a piece from my second round, the Bolcom Graceful Ghost rag. My daring tactic worked perfectly: I was critically acclaimed in the Dallas/FtWorth papers, received a wonderful ovation, and the jury bounced me out of the competition! The eventual winner was Joel Holoubek, a French coin dealer, who played Liszt's Funerailles, Ravel's Ondine, and the finale from Dutilleux's sonata. Holoubek played wonderfully, and had exceptional, sensual charisma.