Piano Cleveland joins the arts community in mourning the passing of A. Malachi Mixon, III, a beloved member of the Piano Cleveland family and visionary supporter of the Cleveland International Piano Competition.
Mal’s involvement with the Cleveland International Piano Competition began in 2004, when he approached then-Executive Director Karen Knowlton about how to solidify CIPC’s reputation as one of the best competitions in the world. From these discussions came the Mixon First Prize of $50,000. As she remembers, “This incredible generosity placed Cleveland among the top prizes worldwide and immediately helped attract national attention and an ever-widening pool of talented pianists.” After awarding this prize for several competitions, Mal and Barbara increased their commitment to $75,000 in 2016, ensuring that the Mixon First Prize would remain one of the top prizes around the world.
“There are few people who so significantly contributed to the transformation of an artistic organization and carried it to new heights,” said Yaron Kohlberg, President of Piano Cleveland. “Mal Mixon achieved this rare feat by virtue of his vision and generosity, helping to make Cleveland an internationally renowned Competition and a center of excellence.”
The Mixon First Prize was only one part of Mal’s vision to uplift Cleveland as the preeminent classical piano capital of the world. As a true pioneer in the Cleveland arts scene, Mal’s leadership inspired music leaders around the region to strive for artistic greatness both for their organizations and for the city as a whole.
“Mal had a tremendous impact on me on a personal and professional level,” said Pierre van der Westhuizen, CIPC Director Emeritus and current Director of The Gilmore Keyboard Festival and Awards. “He challenged and encouraged me to grow as an entrepreneur, and constantly sought out ways to make Cleveland a focus of the piano world. His legacy goes far beyond the First Prize (which he even increased and extended in my time at the competition) – his vision for what that could mean for the organization and the artistic community in Cleveland and around the world is something that will be celebrated for many years to come. He was a true trailblazer in everything he did and got involved with.”
Indeed, Mal’s dedication to sustaining the Competition’s partnership with The Cleveland Orchestra – alongside his work in developing the Bravo Piano Gala at Severance Hall – ensured that Cleveland audiences could celebrate the incredible artistry of these young pianists, and further elevated CIPC as one of the most important competitions on the international scene.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to Barbara and to the entire family and hope that they will take some comfort in the fact that many pianists who got their start here in Cleveland have thrilled audiences worldwide,” said Knowlton. “And those amazing pianists got their start here because of Mal’s generosity and vision, and we shall all always be grateful.”