Van Cliburn medalist Vadym Kholodenko answers questions of South Burlington piano students.  L-R:Vadym Kholodenko, Vanessa Frago, Petr Kepka, Elisabeth Goodrich, Andrew Kim, Austin Skiff and Luke Fitzgerald

Van Cliburn Medalists Meet Local Pianists

Home » Neighbors » Van Cliburn Medalists Meet Local Pianists

Thursday July 03, 2014

South Burlington residents and Orchard School students Austin Skiff, Andrew Kim, Vanessa Frago and Luke Fitzgerald had the opportunity this spring to meet with Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Vadym Kholodenko at the Recital Hall at the University of Vermont, with generous support from the Lane Series. Piano teacher Petr Kepka helped to arrange the meet and greet event where Kholodenko took time to answer questions and demonstrate his answers playing pieces from Brahms and Bach using a piano on the stage. Kholodenko, who is from Ukraine, was the third Van Cliburn pianist to play in the Lane Series of concerts this season. Several of the kids also met Sean Chen, from California, and Beatrice Rana, from Italy. Each of the Van Cliburn medalists imparted different pearls of wisdom to the kids. Chen discussed the importance of pursuing what you love, which is how he decided to attend Julliard over MIT. Rana discussed the importance of feeling music and not over-thinking notes and drills. Kholodenko shared the importance of practicing piano movements without actually striking the keys to produce sounds. While the three medalists had different perspectives on music, a recurrent theme emerged for the younger players, which is to practice every day and focus on learning continuously to improve their skills as musicians. 

Van Cliburn won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, Russia in 1958 at the age of 23. Russians fell in love with Van Cliburn because of his deep love of their music, which transcended politics. An award was created in Van Cliburn’s name in 1962. Thirty of the best pianists from the world are invited to participate in the competition, which is held every four years with top prizes that include an international tour and a total value of more than 1.3 million dollars.

SOURCE: Paul Fitzgerald, Guest Contributor