Cliburn Plays on Into Semifinal Round

Dozen pianists now left standing going for top prize

Round one of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is in the books, and now it's the semifinals.

With the number of competitors reduced from 30 to 12 on Thursday, the second round starts at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

For those that heard Beatrice Rana, of Italy, play last week, you'd never know how the 20-year-old felt for her first performance of the Cliburn.

"In the first phase when I was going on the stage, I was really nervous, because I didn't know the stage and I didn't know the audience," Rana said on Friday. "Thank God the audience is really warm here and actually it's very easy to play here."

She said the audience makes it easy, but Bass Hall is a tough place to play. With the audience on her side, she still knew that getting to the second round wouldn't be easy.

"I knew that we gave all our best on the stage, so the decision of the jury is just unpredictable," she said.

Rana will now take the stage again on Saturday, performing with the Brentano String Quartet, which she met for the first time on Friday morning.

"I'm really amazed by their playing," she said.

On Monday, she will perform a 60-minute solo recital as the second part of the semifinal round.

Four years ago Rana sat in Bass Hall watching the Cliburn take place while she visited Texas Christian University in Fort Worth for a music academy.

"Thinking back to those years, it looked just impossible to be here, in the competition," she said. "Now [to be] in the semifinal, it's just so amazing."

Rana won first prize at the 2011 Montreal International Music Competition and is considered to have a good chance at the Cliburn this year. But she says she is just hoping to get some sleep and perform well this weekend.

"It's really a wonderful opportunity for me," Rana said.

Competitors who reach the semifinal round earn $5,000 cash. The winner of top prize will get $50,000 when he or she is declared champion on June 9.

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