30 pianists play Bass Hall in May

PIANO MAN: Cliburn’s as openly gay as Jodie Foster.

The Van Cliburn Foundation announced the names of the 30 pianists selected to compete in the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, to be held May 22-June 7 in Fort Worth’s Bass Performance Hall. The announcement follows two months of worldwide screening recitals, which consisted of 151 auditions at six locations in China, Europe and the United States.

Six finalists will share three years of concert tours, including more than 300 engagements coordinated by the Van Cliburn Foundation over the three years following the competition. Fees received by the Cliburn winners from U.S. engagements will total in excess of $1,000,000.

The pianists range in age from 19 to 30.

Van Cliburn — born Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr. — is the American pianist who won the 1958 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition at the age of 23.

He’s still alive and living in Fort Worth. In 2003, Dubya gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And in 2004, he performed at Condeleezza Rice’s 50th birthday bash.

While many have speculated about Cliburn’s sexuality, the press-shy pianist is as openly gay as Jodie Foster.

But in 1996, his former gay partner of 17 years, Thomas E. Zaremba, filed a multi-million dollar palimony suit against Cliburn, claiming he was entitled to a chunk of Cliburn’s moolah. Zaremba also alleged that Cliburn may have exposed him to HIV. The suit was eventually dismissed. And Zaremba tested negative for the virus.

While enjoying his privacy, Cliburn has a reputation for being a polite dude.

—Daniel A. Kusner



Bonnie Raitt

WHO? Estelle
THE MUSIC: British diva who gave us the catchy "American Boy."
WHERE, WHEN, COST: House of Blues. Monday, March 9 at 8 p.m. $30-$75.

WHO? Bonnie Raitt
THE MUSIC: Bluesy goddess who can wail on a six-string.
WHERE, WHEN, COST: Meyerson Center. Monday, March 9 at 8 p.m. $50-$225.

Tickets to the competition go on sale Friday, March 13 at 10 a.m. 800-462-7979. Cliburn.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 6, 2009.

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