Van Cliburn Semi-Finalists Announced Tuesday

The Van Cliburn international piano competition has the unique quality of capturing the imagination of the non-music obsessed and classical aficianados alike. This year even more than in the recent past the event has proved exciting and magnetic, perhaps as in the light of economic and political uncertainties people are drawn to the hope and expression that magnificent art has to offer.

After four days of mostly dazzling performances, the 12 names of the competitors who will advance on to the semi-final round of the 13th Van Cliburn will be announced Tuesday night at 10 p.m.

Out of these 12, only six will advance to the Final Round.

One of the characteristics that distinguishes the competition from many others of similar caliber is its abundance of media exposure. Even without tickets, anyone can watch each round through live through streaming video at its Web site, and behind-the-scenes coverage will allow viewers to watch coverage of rehearsals and see back stage footage.

Also a feature of the popularity of the competition, the audience can vote on its favorite artists American idol-style through the site (although audience preference is not factored into the judge’s official decisions).

This year several personalities will draw in viewers. Of the most notable contenders is the youngest, Hoachen Zhang of China, who at 19 has already received sparkling reviews of his Beethoven, Chopin and Stravinsky program.

Another, Nobuyuki Tsujii, a 20-year-old, has been blind since birth. Tsujii, who plays entirely by ear, earned high praise from Cliburn himself.

"He was absolutely miraculous, His performance had the power of a healing service. It was truly divine,” Cliburn told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Semifinals are May 28 - May 31, at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Each of the 12 semifinalists will perform 60-minute solo recitals and one piano quintet with the Takacs Quartet.

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