The chair of the judges at the 2017 Van Cliburn Competition has responded to some of the criticism aired today in an email to Slipped Disc:
Here are three things everyone needs to understand.
The Cliburn is judged in its entirety, not just on the concerto. We listed to all 30 pianists, eliminate 10 and so on. All voting is done anonymously and we are not allowed to speak about the competetors. There is no point system, simply a yes or no as far as advancement. This is true for all rounds and is the only fair way to avoid controversies that have plagued many competitions.
During the the three solo recitals we heard many superb performances of both standard and unusual repertoire. Very few of the audience or medici viewers take the time to go through all of this and it is exhausting for both pianists and the jury panel.
As much as I would love to have some off the beaten track concerti, fiscal responsibility and rehearsal time comes into play. Each contestant has only 50 minutes plus the general rehearsal to get through their works. I met with each for 20 minutes prior to the first rehearsal. If one of the commentators on this blog wish to contribute about 400 thousand dollars for extra rehearsals, please contact the Cliburn. It is also important to remember that we do not know until the announcement of the finalists who will be playing which concerto, so that creates another set of problems.
I was proud to be head of an incredible group of pianists, each of whom brought great experience to the competition. Although I have reservations about contests in music, there is no question that the process was fair and unimpeachable. And rest assured, some of these pianists are about to have terrific careers, based on what we heard over the course of almost three weeks.