Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Permits Russian Pianists to Compete

While the competition condemns the Russian attacks on Ukraine, it also acknowledges that the pianists who have applied to compete are not officials of their government or state-sponsored by Russia

(Photo courtesy: 2022 Cliburn Competition)


The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which is this year hosting its sixteenth installment in Fort Worth, Texas, has released a statement regarding the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

"The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is reprehensible and heartbreaking," it reads. "The Cliburn stands firmly against and condemns this tyranny."

As for the Russian-born pianists who have applied for this year's competition, the organization has, in line with its mission to support young artists, made the decision to allow them to audition. The pianists, after all, are not officials of their government, nor is their participation in the Cliburn state-sponsored.

Of the 72 pianists invited to take part in the competition's Screen Auditions, 15 are Russian-born and eight currently reside in Moscow.

"These young, brilliant artists have worked their way through an intense and complicated situation to ensure they would be able to come to Fort Worth for their chance to compete on one of classical music’s biggest stages — for their chance to live their dreams," the competition writes. "They have spent the better part of their lives preparing for this opportunity. The stakes are high."

The 72 pianists were chosen from a record-breaking 388 applicants and represent 22 counties. The Screening Auditions will take place March 6–12, 2022, in PepsiCo Recital Hall on campus at Texas Christian University. The auditions are open to the public and are free to attend. For the full schedule, details, and pianist list, click here.

American pianist Van Cliburn, for whom the competition is dedicated, won the first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition during the Cold War. At the time, it was a testament to the transcendence of art, even at the most volatile times.

"Since we know that classical music is timeless and everlasting, it is precisely the eternal verities inherent in classical music that remain a spiritual beacon for people all over the world,” Cliburn said.

One of the upcoming competitors from Russia told the competition, "I pray we give music a chance to be the ambassador of peace and love it has always been."

After the screening auditions, the Cliburn Competition will take place June 2–18, 2022 at Texas Christian University's Van Cliburn Concert Hall and at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas.