Van Cliburn 2009 piano finalists announced


The thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition now has six chosen finalists.

They are:

  • Mr. Evgeni Bozhanov, 25 (Bulgaria)
  • Ms. Yeol Eum Son, 23 (South Korea)
  • Mr. Nobuyuki Tsujii, 20 (Japan)
  • Ms. Mariangela Vacatello, 27 (Italy)
  • Ms. Di Wu, 24 (China)
  • Mr. Haochen Zhang, 19 (China)

Each pianist will perform two concerti of his/her choice with the acclaimed Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under the direction of renowned American conductor James Conlon. Each finalist will also perform a fifty-minute solo recital of works not performed in previous rounds.

The Final Round will be held Wednesday, June 3 through Sunday, June 7, and every concert will feature three artists.

There will be live webcasts of the finalists performing in rehearsals and during the competition with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

Here are brief biographies of the finalists:

Evgeni Bozhanov, 24 (Bulgaria)

Evgeni Bozhanov was born in Rousse, Bulgaria, and made his orchestral debut with his hometown orchestra at age twelve. Currently pursuing post-graduate studies at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule in Duesseldorf, Germany, he earned top prizes at both the 2008 Casagrande (Terni, Italy), and Sviatoslav Richter (Moscow, Russia) competitions. Also first-prize winner at the Carl Beckstein Competition in 2006, he has performed in several major concert halls in Germany and looks forward to a tour of Italian cities.

Yeol Eum Son, 23 (South Korea)

Yeol Eum Son has performed with the Israel, New York, Seoul, and Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestras, among other noted orchestras. Third-prize winner of the 2005 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition, Ms. Son has made debuts at several international music festivals, including the Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw, the Rheingau Festival in Germany, and the Bowdoin Festival in the United States. She currently studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover, Germany, and has recorded a CD of Chopin etudes for Universal Music in Korea.

Nobuyuki Tsujii, 20 (Japan)

Nobuyuki Tsujii’s performance credits include the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux, Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. At the age of twelve, he made noted recital debuts at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. An acclaimed debut album released by Avex classics in 2007 led to a fifteen-city tour of Japan and a second CD featuring Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, released in 2008. Blind since birth, Mr. Tsujii states his firm belief that “there are no barriers in the field of music.” He participates in the performer’s program at the Ueno Gakuen College of Music in Tokyo.

Mariangela Vacatello, 27 (Italy)

Born in Naples to a musical family, Mariangela Vacatello made her official debut in Milan with the Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra when she was fourteen. At seventeen, she was second-prize winner of the 1999 Liszt Piano Competition (Utrecht, Netherlands), and in 2005 she was awarded the same distinction at the Busoni Competition (Italy). Ms. Vacatello has performed in Italy’s most renowned concert halls and festivals. Recent international engagements include recitals at Brussels’ Palais des Beaux Arts, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Montpellier Festival and Salle Cortot in France, and extensive tours throughout Mexico and South Africa. She is a graduate of both the Piano Academy “Incontri col Maestro” in Imola, Italy, and of London’s Royal Academy of Music.

Di Wu, 24, (China)

Recently singled out by Musical America as a young artist to watch, Di Wu made her orchestral debut with the Beijing Symphony at age fourteen. She is currently enrolled in Juilliard’s artist diploma program and has performed with the National, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras, and twice with the New York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. International engagements include recitals at the Busoni International Piano Festival in Italy and at Germany’s Klavier Festival Ruhr, as well as at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Winner of Juilliard’s 2009 William Petschek Award, Ms. Wu will make her Alice Tully Hall recital debut at Lincoln Center in May 2009.

Haochen Zhang, 19 (China)

The youngest participant in the 2009 Cliburn Competition, Haochen Zhang gave his debut recital at the Shanghai Music Hall at the age of five, performing all of Bach’s two-part inventions, as well as sonatas by Haydn and Mozart. He performed with orchestra at age six, and moved to the United States at fifteen to attend the Curtis Institute of Music. First-prize winner of the 2007 China International Piano Competition, Mr. Zhang has performed with the China National Symphony Orchestra, Krakow State Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and has concertized throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. He also excels at ping pong and enjoys writing poetry.


Wednesday, June 3
Evening Performance:
7:30pm – Ms. Mariangela Vacatello (Recital)
8:45pm – Mr. Evgeni Bozhanov (Chopin, Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor, Op. 11)
9:45pm – Ms. Di Wu (Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 19)

Thursday, June 4
Evening Performance:
7:30pm – Ms. Yeol Eum Son (Recital)
8:45pm – Mr. Nobuyuki Tsujii (Chopin, Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor, Op. 11)
9:45pm – Mr. Haochen Zhang (Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466)

Friday, June 5
Evening Performance:
7:30pm – Mr. Evgeni Bozhanov (Recital)
8:45pm – Ms. Yeol Eum Son (Chopin, Piano Concerto No.2 in E minor, Op. 21)
9:45pm – Ms. Mariangela Vacatello (Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58)

Saturday, June 6
Matinee Performance:
1:30pm – Mr. Haochen Zhang (Recital)
2:45pm – Ms. Yeol Eum Son (Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16)
3:45pm – Mr. Nobuyuki Tsujii (Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18)

Evening Performance:
7:30pm – Ms. Di Wu (Recital)
8:45pm – Mr. Evgeni Bozhanov (Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18)
9:45pm – Ms. Mariangela Vacatello (Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26)

Sunday, June 7
Matinee Performance:
1:30pm – Mr. Nobuyuki Tsujii (Recital)
2:45pm – Mr. Haochen Zhang (Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16)
3:45pm – Ms. Di Wu (Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30)

5:00pm – Awards Ceremony

Van Cliburn Foundation