Cliburn Competition Dedicated to Founder

Pianist Van Cliburn died three months before 14th competition held in his name

Three months after the death of Fort Worth's famous pianist, Van Cliburn, his piano competition returns with 30 new competitors.

The 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition began Friday morning with the start of the preliminary round of performances.

The music and performances remain as good as ever, but it's clear that something is missing this year.

"He was very much a presence here at Bass Hall for the competition," said Marcia Garoon, a former Cliburn employee and current host family for a competitor.

Three months after Cliburn lost his battle with cancer, the show goes on. But all the competitors know that this version of his competition is for Van himself.

"He is missed by all of us," said Carla Thompson, Cliburn chairman. "The 14th competition is in tribute to him, dedicated to him."

Cliburn is gone, but his vision for the competition and love of classical music remains strong, as demonstrated by the performers and audiences on Friday.

"Certainly, his spirit in the competition is something that the competitors are conscious of, the audience is," Thompson said.

"It's been very interesting," said Glenn Garoon, who is hosting a pianist from Russia for the competition this year.

And while the 30 competitors this go around won't have the chance to meet Fort Worth's world famous pianist, they'll all take the stage he helped build with a chance to become just as famous if they win.

The preliminary rounds run until Monday afternoon. A winner will be crowned on June 9.

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