At noon today NorthPark Center’s NorthCourt was filled with beautiful music and news. The occasion was the official kick-off of the second Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival.
The Cliburn President/CEO Jacques Marquis told the crowd that for the first time, the event would be held in Dallas from Friday, May 31, to Saturday, June 8. During that time the two dozen young finalists ranging in age from 13 to 17 will call SMU home base and “participate in the Preliminary through Semifinal Rounds and festival events.”
On the final evening, the three finalists will perform with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson.
Jacques recalled when he initiated the conversation about the project with NorthPark’s Nancy Nasher, she didn’t hesitate.
Joining Jacques at the podium was The Cliburn Board Member/NorthPark Ambassador Cami Goff, who told how The Cliburn was so very special for her, since the late Van Cliburn had been a friend, and the program is also so very special.
According to NorthPark Center’s marketing maven Kristen Gibbins, Cami became part of the 2019 NP Ambassador class because of “her support of the Cliburn. Plus we thought she would make a fantastic ambassador to NorthPark because of her cultural commitment and incredible fashion sense.”
To bring home the caliber of talent vying for a place in the competition, one of the original Junior Piano competitors Amir Siraj was in town to perform for the crowd including DSO’s Denise McGovern and NorthPark Luxury Ambassador Kimberly Schlegel Whitman. His performances resulted in cellphone salutes and thunderous applause. So breathtaking was his performance that NorthPark customers and merchants stopped in their tracks to watch the 18-year-old at the Steinway.
BTW, Amir is studying astrophysics at Harvard and going after his master’s degree in piano performance at the New England Conservatory. When asked if his parents, who immigrated from Iran and Saudi Arabia, were musicians, he said no, but that his older sisters were both pianists. With one piano in the household, it was a competition just to get to the keyboard.
He has already been named a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, a Steinway Young Artist and a Lang Lang International Music Foundation Young Scholar Alumnus. In addition, he has performed at the Grammy Salute to Classical Music at Carnegie Hall, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and at numerous other outstanding venues.
As Jacques put it, “Amir says playing makes him happy. Hearing him play makes me happy.”
Tickets for the various events taking place during the week are now on sale. The tickets range from free, for the preliminary round, to $19-$99 for the final round. It’s a bargain for a priceless experience.