It was a late night at the concert hall. Judges deliberated far longer than expected to choose from an assembly of incredible, world-class performers. Last night, an hour and a half after the final performance, they did finally announce which 12 artists (out of 29) would continue on to the semifinals of the Van Cliburn piano competition.
The night finished strong with the final two performances. Yeol Eum Son of Korea's playing was lithe and assured, while the final artist, Mayumi Sakamoto of Japan, showed off her ability to evoke a restive fieriness, and contrast that tumbling earthquake quality with silken tranquility in a heartbeat.
Son moved on to the next round, though Sakamoto did not, to the disappointment of many who would have loved to see her play again.
Though the announcement was scheduled for 10 p.m., judges deliberated for far longer, not announcing names until 11.
“We’re just excited that such a strong field has come, and we think it is one of the strongest in a decade, and its so wonderful to see the number of young people that have come out,” said Elaine Sampson, chairman of the board for the competition.
The finalists (in alphabetical order, and yes, no Americans): Evgeni Bozhanov, Ran Dank, Alessandro Deljavan, Kyu Yeon Kim, Eduard Kunz, Andrea Lam, Michail Lifits, Yeol Eum Son, Nobuyuki Tsujii, Mariangela Vacatello, Di Wu and Haochen Zhang.
The artists will get to rest their fingers for a day, but the competition will resume Thursday.
Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.