Cliburn Piano Competition Faces Calls to Ban Russian Participants – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

While Fort Worth hosts The Cliburn piano competition, its origins, in a sense, began in Russia when a young Van Cliburn took the stage in Moscow, wowed the Cold War crowd of 1958 and won there a prestigious competition.

Music’s ability to transcend nationality and politics has permeated The Cliburn since then this month hosted the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Preliminaries for pianists, aged 18-30.

Jacques Marquis, president and chief executive of The Cliburn, said the recitals that took place from March 6-12 included 72 competitors.

15 of the players were born in Russia and among them, eight live in Moscow.

“Artists are the ones who will speak out against the government,” Marquis said. “When they can.”

And right now they can’t, which is why Marquis maintains that it’s important to let the music do the talking.

It’s a hard song for some to hear right now.

Father Pavlo Popov is a pastor at the St. Sophia Ukrainian Catholic Church in the colony.

“I understand that they may not be guilty as individuals but, you know, that’s exactly how you get to Russia – by sanctioning everyone, the whole country,” Popov said.

After Sunday’s service, Popov shared with NBC5 how many members of his largely Ukrainian-American congregation fear their loved ones in Ukraine will survive the constant Russian attacks.

In an environment where Russian athletes are already barred from many competitions, Popov is calling on The Cliburn to reconsider allowing any Russian competitor who is likely to qualify among the 30 finalists slated to compete from June 2.

“Musicians go home and tell their parents that we weren’t allowed to compete because of Putin – because of the regime,” Popov said. “That’s how it’s going to work.”

Marquis says The Cliburn, which includes alumni and a board, will continue to discuss the best approach going forward, but added that since Russian pianists are not state-sponsored, the arts organization nonprofit draws on its history to bear witness to how art can transcend current tense times.

“We have to be aware of what’s going on in the world, at the same time I still believe that young musicians can be a very strong voice in the future,” Marquis said.

Comments are closed.