Cliburn Youth Competition Heading to Dallas

For the first time, the Van Cliburn Foundation will hold one of its competitions in Dallas

There's more fuel for the fire in the rivalry between Fort Worth and Dallas. On Wednesday, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition announced that the junior portion of the event is moving from the campus of Texas Christian University to Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The Cliburn wants to expand its audience and its brand, and a former board member tells NBC 5 they also need more corporate sponsors that they're hoping to attract in Dallas.

But the Van Cliburn International is such a vital piece of Fort Worth's cowboys and culture brand that giving up any piece of it to the Big D doesn't sound right to a lot of Fort Worthians.

Not far from Van Cliburn Way is a place that knows a lot about the Fort Worth way.

There's no mistaking Railhead Smokehouse with their neighbors to the east. It’s printed on staff T-shirts and posted proudly on the wall: "Life is too short to live in Dallas."

"My favorite line is, on one of the girls' shirts, 'I don't have enough makeup to live in Dallas,' and that's just kind of the Fort Worth rivalry," said lifelong Fort Worthian Ed Dietz.

It's all in good fun. But folks in Fort Worth take their cultural traditions seriously, especially the icon who brought one of the world's biggest piano competitions to Cowtown 56 years ago: Van Cliburn himself.

"And this is precious," said Jacques Marquis, president and CEO of the Van Cliburn International.

Marquis values that history. But he says it's important to grow, too.

"We are a vibrant arts organization who likes to expand audiences, partnerships," Marquis said.

So next year, the junior competition for young talents aged 13-17 will be hosted in Dallas, on the campus of SMU. The first junior festival was held at TCU in 2015. It's slated to take place every four years.

Administrators stress that the main competition is at Bass Hall to stay.

"Doing a program in Dallas is not lessening what we're doing here," Marquis said. "On the contrary, we have been increasing a lot our programs here."

Hosting the first junior competition at TCU was a point of pride to students in the school of music there.

"It's brought a lot of fame to our school. We have an all Steinway piano collection here, so that's a big part of what we do here," said Brandon Cummings, a senior in the TCU School of Music.

And, of course, the TCU-SMU rivalry is as fierce as their home cities.

"Anyplace but Dallas!" said Joanne Fralia with a laugh.

But then nothing brings neighbors together like beautiful music. After all, life is too short.

NBC 5 also spoke to Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price about this change on Monday. She said the rivalry is fun, but the truth is together we're the fourth largest metro area in the country and what's good for Fort Worth is good for Dallas.

Contact Us