Virtuosity – The Cliburn

Virtuosity – The Cliburn

Fri, 07/31/2015 - 9:00pm

Pictured: Nikita Mndoyants, age 24 of Russia, performs in the Semifinal Round of the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at Bass Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, USA on Saturday, June 1, 2013.

Credit: Courtesy of Ralph Lauer/The Cliburn

Every four years, a group of the finest young pianists takes the stage at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. The pressure on these artists is overwhelming, because the stakes are so high: prize money, concert bookings, a recording contract, a career. At the heart of this story is the courage it takes for a 20-year-old to go onstage alone before 2,000 people, and hundreds of thousands more online, and play a unique interpretation of one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the piano. The competition requires not only a transcendent musical ability, but a mental toughness that must sustain the soloist through three straight weeks of performance. The Cliburn becomes as much a test of character as a musical proving ground. Virtuosity – The Cliburn airs Friday, July 31, 2015 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

Virtuosity searches for the musical souls of some of the most gifted young pianists on the planet as they try to make a name for themselves at the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. And all of the onstage brilliance and backstage drama takes place in the year in which the inspiration and namesake of the competition, Van Cliburn, passed away. This film is a tribute to his memory and to his particular genius.

But ultimately, the film focuses on this group of young pianists as they articulate their personalities through their music: brilliant, eccentric, tender, touching, dazzling, deadly serious, wildly entertaining. We share their secrets, their hopes, their humanity. As different as they are as people, these young musicians share a single reality: winning The Cliburn would change their lives overnight.