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#907714 - 06/08/04 08:19 PM Van Cliburn amateur pianist competition  
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,926
netizen Offline
1000 Post Club Member
netizen  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,926
New York
News from the Van Cliburn Amateur Competition.

A composer and porcelain dealer from California won the Van Cliburn Foundation's Fourth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. Paul Anthony Romero of Sherman Oaks, Calif., was among 72 contestants in the competition for those over age 35 who don't earn their living teaching or playing the piano. "This is important because I never have the opportunity to play in front of an audience," said Romero, whose performance pieces included Schubert-Liszt's Soiree de Vienne No. 6. He was awarded $2,000, custom spurs and a recital in Washington.

The event is an offshoot of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, named for the acclaimed pianist from Fort Worth who gained prominence after winning the first Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow in 1958.
Cliburn said Saturday that after hearing the amateurs play, he was inspired to practice more.
"You revitalize my spirit and it's with a debt of gratitude I owe you," he told them


And an article on Ann Herlong, the 74 year old homemaker fron North Carlina, who took 3rd prize at the event.



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#907715 - 06/09/04 07:37 AM Re: Van Cliburn amateur pianist competition  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 2,506
AndrewG Offline
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AndrewG  Offline
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 2,506
Denver, Colorado
74-year-old has my utmost respect:

Apples and oranges, but that's OK
Gander pianist does well at Van Cliburn


FORT WORTH, TEX. She looked like just what she was, a modest, unassuming Gander, Nfld., housewife and community volunteer, who had practised hard on her parlour piano to enter the Fourth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, presented by the Van Cliburn Foundation.

And if Averill Piers Baker also looked mildly discombobulated on the weekend, at the end of six days of competition, it was because, to her own astonishment, the wife of Canadian Senator George Baker topped all but one of the 71 other candidates from around the world to come in second.

The amateur competition is not, of course, to be confused with the high-powered Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the launching pad for many a professional career. It takes place on the off-years between the Cliburn professional competitions as a means of encouraging music-making of a high standard at the avocational level.

This year's contestants ranged from a retired patent agent from the United Kingdom, a French tennis coach and a Brazilian stock portfolio manager to a South African litigation attorney and a retired hospital administrator from Germany.

Some of these people had aspired at one time to careers in music. Halifax-born Piers Baker, for example, studied on scholarship at the Royal Conservatory of Music and later at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1963 from the university's artist diploma program.

But then along came marriage and the raising of four children (three of whom became lawyers, may she be forgiven), turning her piano into a spare time instrument.

Other contestants, such as her fellow Royal Conservatory alumnus Allan Blumenthal, went into different professional fields. Dr. Blumenthal earns his money as a psychiatrist. One of the other finalists, septuagenarian South Carolinian Ann Herlong who came in third, is a homemaking grandmother of four. Yet another finalist, Marisa Naomi Haines, puts bread on the table as a financial trader.

Most of these people played as one might expect devoted amateurs to play, with considerable musicality but minimal virtuosity. Then there were those who really sounded like professionals in all but name, including the gentleman who won the competition and its $2,000 (U.S.) first prize, Paul Anthony Romero, a composer and porcelain dealer from Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Romero may not be a professional pianist but he is a professional musician, who has composed more than 50 scores for independent movies, documentaries and television as well as popular computer games. He is the award-winning composer of the Heroes Of Might And Magic CD-ROM games, which have reportedly sold more than 12 million copies around the world.

As a competition juror, I found it hard to evaluate the Romeros alongside the Bakers and Herlongs. They seemed to me to be apples and oranges. But because none were self-defined professional pianists, all were entitled to enter the competition.

Some of them enjoy the experience of meeting and playing with like-minded people so much that they re-enter the Fort Worth Competition, along with similar events it has fostered in such places as Boston and Washington. Baker declared it her intention to return for the next Texas trials and go for gold, as it were.

When she reached the semi-finals, she broke with tradition and addressed the audience at Ed Landreth Auditorium on the campus of Texas Christian University, saying she felt so nervous she decided to apply one of the nerves-calming techniques she had been taught, that of talking before playing.

Her audience obviously loved her for it. So did the jury.

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