The Van Cliburn Foundation's flagship program, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was established in 1962. The competition consists of three separate rounds: Preliminary, Semifinal, and Final. In addition to performing recitals, competitors are also required to perform a piano quintet during the Semifinal round, accompanied by a string quartet, and two concerti, one scored for a chamber orchestra and one scored for a full symphony orchestra, accompanied by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in the Final round. Competitors are judged by an international jury made up of composers, pianists, teachers, and music critics. The quadrennial competition has been a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions since 1977. For more information about the competition, please see Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
In 1976, the Van Cliburn Foundation expanded its programming with the introduction of Cliburn Concerts, an annual classical music series in Fort Worth, Texas.
To promote music-making as a part of everyday life, the Van Cliburn Foundation established the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs™ in 1999. Now a quadrennial forum for non-professional musicians, the competition is open to pianists age 35 and older who do not derive their principal source of income through piano performance or instruction. The competition consists of three separate rounds of recitals. The Preliminary Round requires a recital performance of 10 to 12 minutes in length, the Semifinal Round 16 to 20 minutes in length, and the Final Round 25 to 30 minutes in length.
First Prize winner receives the Richard Rodzinski First Prize Award and a cash prize of $2,000. The second and third prize winners receive a cash prize of $1,500 and $1,000, respectively. Additional prizes included the Press Jury Award; Audience Award; awards for the Best Performance of a Work from the Baroque Era, the Classical Era, and the Romantic Era; Best Performance of a Post-Romantic Work; Best Performance of a Modern Work; Most Creative Programming Award; the Fort Worth Piano Teachers Forum Award; and Jury Discretionary Awards.
Music education has been a key component of the Van Cliburn Foundation since its inception. In 2001, the foundation created its signature music education program Musical Awakenings® which is presented in public elementary schools with diverse student bodies where it serves to bridge cultural gaps and give children access to professionally presented classical music programs. The foundation's vision for Musical Awakenings is to: provide free in-school music education to culturally and economically under served children in the second, third, and fourth grades; gain an understanding of current music education needs for all school districts served and develop programs as appropriate; provide teachers with curriculum related study guides; use the most artistically excellent musicians and exceptional instruments in the programs; and explore collaborative associations with existing organizations.
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