Eastman School of Music junior Zhang Zuo is one of only 30 pianists from around the world selected to compete in the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition this May.
Founded in 1962 in honor of Van Cliburn, the American winner of the first Tchaikovsky International Competition, the quadrennial event has been described as “the most prestigious in the world” by the Russian daily newspaper Pravda and “one of the music world’s main events” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Zuo, 20, is from China and studies with Nelita True at the Eastman School. She will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to compete in the preliminary round May 22 to 26, during which each of the 30 competitors will present a 50-minute solo recital. Twelve pianists will be selected to advance to the semifinal round May 28 to 31, during which they will perform 60-minute solo recitals and a piano quintet with the Takács Quartet. Six pianists will advance to the final round, June 3 to 7, with winners announced on the final evening of the competition.
Designed to elevate the careers of young classical pianists, the Van Cliburn Competition provides all the participants with media exposure on radio and Internet broadcasts during the event. The six finalists are awarded managed concert tours and engagements as well as cash prizes and recording opportunities. The first, second, and third-place winners also receive gold and silver medals and a crystal award.
Zuo had to pass an extensive screening process in order to be selected for the Van Cliburn Competition. She was one of 225 pianists worldwide who submitted written applications, from which just over 150 applicants were selected to participate in screening audition recitals. Last month, Zuo traveled to New York City, where she performed Haydn’s G Major Sonata, Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit and Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody for her audition.
Zuo started studying piano when she was seven years old. She won her first international piano completion at age 11, when she earned first place in the Gina Bachauer International Junior Competition. In 2005, Zhuo was awarded third prize in the Shanghai International Piano Competition, and that year she also was a finalist in the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in the Netherlands. She is a Liberace Scholar at Eastman.
The 13 women and 17 men who were selected for the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition represent 14 countries and range in age from 19 to 30.
As part of the goal of providing media exposure for all participants, the 17-day event will be webcast live and on-demand, free of charge, starting May 22. Online audiences will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite pianists at each phase of the competition. An official blog will provide commentary. Registration to view the webcast is on the Cliburn website (www.cliburn.org).
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