by Cristin Frey
Marketing Director at Strings Music Festival
When I was first hired at Strings I was asked to pick up our Cliburn artist from the airport. All I knew was that he was set to perform a classical concert. Little did I know I was sitting next to one of the world’s greatest piano prodigies who recently won the most prestigious piano competition in the world. And in a short matter of weeks this particular artist had left his wife and baby in Ukraine and been tossed into the journey towards professional musician here in the US. My journey from college to ski bum to musician chauffer seemed so insignificant.
Every 4 years, young pianists from around the globe converge in Fort Worth Texas to try and make a name for themselves at the Cliburn Competition. The pressure on these artists is overwhelming because the stakes are so high: prize money, concert bookings, a recording contract, even a career. A newly released documentary Virtuosity showcases the competitive journey of these young musicians. At the heart of this story is the courage it takes for a twenty-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.
I enjoy watching these musicians in their element. The same people I have spent time with making the lazy drive from Hayden to Steamboat, talking about the weather. In hindsight I missed out on amazing opportunities to speak with some of the most talented piano players in the world at a beautifully vulnerable time. They had been uprooted from their life and thrown into the blender of fame. You can learn more about their journey at the airing of Virtuosity on Jan 20 at the Bud Werner Memorial Library. Along with many past Strings artists the film also follows Fei-Fei Dong, who will perform at Strings on Jan 30.