As the final notes faded in Stanislav Khristenko’s encore performance at the Award Ceremony for the 2013 Cleveland International Piano Competition, marking the end of the epic 13-day event, a large and enthusiastic crowd rose one last time to its feet. Stanislav basked in the glow of his win, and the staff and volunteers who had worked for more than a year to bring the event to life relaxed, knowing that the work was done and all had gone as planned.
CIPC Executive Director Pierre van der Westhuizen, who took the reins in January 2012, put his own unique stamp on this 20th iteration of the Competition. Visitors to University Circle and beyond enjoyed “Play Me, I’m Yours,” 20-plus playable, decorated pianos installed in partnership with Case Western Reserve University to promote and celebrate the Competition.Residents of senior centers and nursing homes enjoyed on-site performances by contestants the day before the Competition began. Perhaps most importantly the solo rounds were moved to the Cleveland Museum of Art, a dramatic change that allowed the event to become much more than the piano competition loyal patrons had come to expect.
Renewed and reenergized as the “Cleveland International Piano Competition & Festival” the event kicked off with an opening ceremony of appropriate festivity. 2011 First Prize winner Alexander Schimpf and CityMusic Cleveland, under the direction of Cleveland Institute of Music President Joel Smirnoff, opened the program with a delightful Mozart concerto. It was followed by an introduction of the contestants and a reception in the museum’s stunning new atrium.
2013 also saw the introduction of a series of extremely well attended symposia and discussions that shed light on the jury voting process and brought additional insight to the music being played in the concert hall.
And what glorious music it was! From the start it was clear that this year’s field of 28 contestants was something quite special. Over the course of eight days in the Museum’s spectacular Gartner Auditorium, listeners were treated to everything from delicate flights of fancy to blazes of sheer power. By the time the semi-final round began, virtually every performance was a vivid portrait of remarkable skill and musicianship.
Four pianists were selected to advance to the final round and perform with the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall. After two nights of splendid music and four standing ovations, the jury ranked them as follows: Stanislav Khristenko (Russia) First Prize; Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev (Russia) Second Prize; François Dumont (France) Third Prize; and Jiayan Sun (China) Fourth Prize.
And now, planning and fundraising begins for the next Competition, which will be held in the summer of 2016. Expect great things – because the Cleveland International Piano Competition is, after all, Absolutely Spectacular. And Only in Cleveland.