Exclusive: Cliburn names conductor chairman, cleans up its selection

Exclusive: Cliburn names conductor chairman, cleans up its selection


norman lebrecht

September 24, 2014

The Van Cliburn competition has asked Leonard Slatkin to be its next jury chairman, succeeding John Giordano who held the seat for 40 years.

That much is – or is about – to become public knowledge.

Behind the scenes, we understand that Slatkin and others are working hard on the jury process to reduce the influence of powerful teachers on the selection and progress of contestants. Fort Worth is aware of the Indy debacle. It will not be allowed to happen elsewhere.

Slatkin, 70, is music director of the Detroit and Lyon (France) symphony orchestras… and a clean pair of hands.



  • anon says:

    Either Kaplinsky will be involved again, or she won’t. We’re waiting.

  • Sounds promising. Time will tell if he can clean the Cliburn up.

  • pianowatch says:

    Since 2001, Yoheved Kaplinsky has successfully (and shamelessly) manipulated the Cliburn Competition’s executives, board of directors, and juries. It’s about time they did something about this – as it’s so totally embarrassing.

  • Milka says:

    As it stands it is a hopeless endeavour
    that Mr. Slatkin has undertaken. Now
    that Mr. Lebrecht’s investigative flashlight is at work the jurors will
    get more secretive in their horse trading work .Mr. Slatkin in role of Diogenes
    will have to be careful that jurors don’t
    blow out his light and send him packing .

  • Lyn Evans says:

    Can’t grasp this about Cliburn. Really strong pianists came through and really strong pianists won. I think that you have a hole in your heart and just can’t see or hear beauty. I need definitive reasons why the pianists that reached the finals in Cliburn ’05, ’09 and ’13 weren’t substantive enough to get there. Without details your premise has no bearing. You’re missing the pure empirical justification – let’s say hypothetically that a juror has managed a studio with 40+ students each year for the past 20 years. It could be just a product of the mathematics. And – that hypothetical juror has detethered anyway. What are you going to do when students that have passed through the hypothetical juror’s studio keep arriving in throngs to the Cliburn and other competitions and festivals all over the world? Tell me that this isn’t just a misogynous bite-back. Tell me that this isn’t just jealousy. Again – do something about the hole in your life – you need to fill it with something meaningful. Do some reflection and start producing content with substance.