About Piano Cleveland

Staff Profile: Crystal Carlson

August 10th 2017
Community Connections

Crystal Carlson, CIPC’s Production Manager, has had a very interesting career trajectory since joining the organization in 2011. But we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s start with her background.

Like most of the CIPC staff, Crystal is a musician. Her instrument is her voice, making her the only vocalist on the team. Born in Idaho, Crystal received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. She then moved to Cleveland, where she received a Professional Studies Certificate in voice at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Having a self-professed love of performing, Crystal appeared in a number of local productions while teaching and working at Little Italy’s famed Corbo’s Bakery to help make ends meet. And then a friend suggested she apply for a temporary administrative assistant position at the Cleveland International Piano Competition.

It was early in 2011 and CIPC was staffing up for that year’s competition. Crystal was hired to help with the event (as was her future husband, but that’s another story altogether) and, as they say, she’s never looked back.

Over the course of months and years the exceptionally well-trained vocalist learned an entirely new set of skills, and discovered she has a knack for logistical planning, scheduling, organization, and – as she calls it – “puzzle solving.” Those skills are put to use in countless ways, from sorting out and arranging arrival and departure times, practice, and rehearsal schedules for contestants and guest artists during a competition, to arranging the travel and on-site itineraries for touring CIPC medalists.

In addition, Crystal coordinates the CIPC box office, managing advance ticket sales for concerts and competitions for members who call in with specific seating requests before tickets go on sale to the general public. Lastly, as if all of this were not enough, she has proven herself to be an extremely able partner to the Communications Director, who relies on Crystal to manage the social media sites and is, by the way, deeply grateful for her amazing proofreading skills.

Asked what she likes best about her job, Crystal’s reply comes easily. “The craziness! It’s different every day, it’s challenging, and it gets really, really crazy busy,” she said. “But I love solving puzzles, solving problems, working out schedules, and when my brain is firing on all cylinders. Being bored is the worst.”

No doubt about it, we’re all very happy Crystal applied for that temporary position back in 2011!

Check out these great posts

Contestant Experience


A month before the 1987 Casadesus Competition, Steve Glaser’s hand was injured in an accident. He told a reporter he was relieved. “‘Psychologically it’s released me from the pressure of […]

Continue Reading

The Breakup, pt. 2


In the last blog post, you saw how things got rocky between the founders of the competition and the newly formed Friends of the Competition in the early 1990s. While […]

Continue Reading