Monday, June 8, 2009

Whole Rest

First of all, a correction for my last post. Cristina Ortiz won the Cliburn in 1969, so it's been 40 years since a woman won the competition outright, not 43.

I spent today looking for English-language press coverage in the winners' home countries. Here's the write-up in the Korea Times. I talked with the reporter of this piece at the Cliburn afterparty. She's from Boston, and she was quite taken with Fort Worth on her first visit. Interesting to note that Yeol-eum Son will be playing again with the Takacs Quartet in Seoul 10 days from now. If you're in South Korea, you might want to see her compatriots give her a winners' welcome. By the way, the headline on this Korea Times article fooled me into thinking it was about the Cliburn. Asahi Shimbun has some in-depth stuff on Nobuyuki Tsujii. There's also this article on Tsujii's chamber-music performance from the Taiwan-based China Post, oddly enough. Meanwhile, China Daily has just bare-bones wire-service reporting on Zhang Haochen, as do the other English-language publications in mainland China. You'd think the rah-rah government-controlled press would be making more hay out of the kid's triumph. Maybe all that's in the Mandarin-language press coverage.

One of the out-of-town music critics asked me at the afterparty what I got out of the Cliburn. For one thing, it inspired me to lose weight. One month ago, I discovered I couldn't fit into any of my pairs of dress pants anymore, and resolved to diet and exercise until I could. Two weeks later, I was able to fit in my old clothes. I like eating healthier and having more energy. I'm going to keep doing it.

More importantly, I found several pianists whom I wanted to listen to again. As I said in my hastily written summary of the competition's first two rounds, it's not just the winners we come to hear. I got the chance to talk to Spencer Myer and Andrea Lam, who stayed and listened to the other performances after they were eliminated, and I told them how much I liked their music-making. The internet makes it easier than ever to follow classical musicians' careers. I'll be looking them up. (In Lam's case, I'll have no trouble remembering her name.) The field this year had a lot of pianists who, if I encounter their name in the future, will make me stop and at least look at what they'll be playing. That's more than I can say for 2005. The sense of music bringing together a community was great, too, but I think the city of Fort Worth well appreciates how lucky it is to have this big music competition here.

Now I get to go back to having my weekends free, watching movies, and not wearing a tie. Some acknowledgments before I sign off: Thanks to Sevan Melikyan and the gracious staffers in the Cliburn press room, who always accommodated me when I was frantically trying to post these missives in the 10 or 15 minutes between performances. Thanks to the friendly staffers at The Vault, the downtown restaurant that was generous (and canny) enough to provide free dinners to the press covering the Cliburn. Ethical considerations prevent me from making any good or bad comments about the food, so I'll just say it was a great place to decompress between sessions. Thanks to my fellow blogging music critics who engaged me in lively discussions and some passionate disagreements about the music and the musicians. It was a privilege working alongside you all. And most of all, thanks to all the readers who've been following this blog. I hope I've enhanced your understanding and enjoyment of the 13th Van Cliburn Competition. Hope to see you all at our next blog-worthy event.

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