Yekwon Sunwoo Gold Medalist 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Jeremy Enlow Jeremy Enlow/Cliburn
Yekwon Sunwoo Gold Medalist 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Jeremy Enlow Jeremy Enlow/Cliburn

Arts & Culture

Cliburn concert series kicks off with competition’s new winner

By Punch Shaw

Special to the Star-Telegram

July 13, 2017 10:00 AM

FORT WORTH

The Cliburn has announced the 2017-18 schedule for its Cliburn Concerts series that continues the organization’s commitment to the piano while also presenting virtuosos from other realms of classical music, including a mezzo-soprano, a cellist and a violinist.

The new season kicks off in a most appropriate fashion. Pianist Yekwon Sunwoo, winner of the recent 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, returns to Bass Hall for a recital Oct. 3. The 28-year-old South Korean gold medalist will perform works by Mozart, Schubert and Ravel.

The remaining concerts in the three series offered under the Cliburn Concerts umbrella (Masters, Virtuosos and Cliburn at the Modern) will be presented at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Kimbell Art Museum’s Piano Pavilion.

The biggest name scheduled for those cozy spaces is legendary pianist Emanuel Ax, who performs at the Piano Pavilion on April 26 and 27. Ax, a multi-Grammy Award winner who has enjoyed a highly lauded career that spans five decades, will perform works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Liszt in this season-closing performance.

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Emanuel Ax
Lisa Marie Mazzucco

Among the other pianists appearing in the 2017-18 season, one of the most intriguing is Igor Levit. The emerging career of the Russian-born German pianist has been highlighted by awards, competition victories and breathless reviews. He has a wind at his back from his Carnegie Hall debut in February. He performs at the Piano Pavilion on Jan. 11, 2018.

Isabel Leonard
Becca Fay

But the season is not just about pianos. Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, who sang the title role in Fort Worth Opera’s 2009 production of Rossini’s “Cinderella,” performs a program of works by Leonard Bernstein at the Piano Pavilion on Nov. 16.

Since her Fort Worth appearance, she has gone on to other prestigious roles, including the female lead in the Santa Fe Opera’s world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s “Cold Mountain” in 2015 (where Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra maestro Miguel Harth-Bedoya was in the pit).

Violinist Ray Chen is joined by pianist Julio Elizalde at the Piano Pavilion on March 29. The Cliburn at the Modern series, which presents discussion and performance events that focus primarily on new works and composers, welcomes composer and harpist Hannah Lash on April 14.

Ray Chen
Sophie Zhai

Other performances include a recital by Janina Fialkowska, a pianist known for her interpretations of Chopin, at the Piano Pavilion on Feb. 1 and 2. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein performs with pianist Inon Barnatan at the Piano Pavilion on Oct. 19 and 20.

And Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra principal keyboardist Shields-Collins Bray leads an evening devoted to works by American composers, “American Showpieces,” Nov. 4 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

The complete schedule for the Cliburn Concerts 2017-18 is:

Oct. 3 — Yekwon Sunwoo, piano. Bass Hall. Works by Mozart, Schubert and Ravel.

Oct. 19-20 — Alisa Weilerstein, cello, and Inon Barnatan, piano. Piano Pavilion at the Kimbell Art Museum.

Nov. 4 — “American Showpieces.” Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Nov. 16 — Isabel Leonard, mezzo soprano. Piano Pavilion. All Bernstein program.

Jan. 11, 2018 — Igor Levit, piano. Piano Pavilion.

Igor Levit
Gregor Hohenberg

Feb. 1-2 — Janina Fialkowska, piano. Piano Pavilion. All Chopin program.

March 29 — Ray Chen, violin, and Julio Elizalde, piano. Piano Pavilion. Works by Beethoven, Saint-Saens and Ysaye.

April 14 — Hannah Lash, composer. Modern Art Museum.

April 26-27 — Emanuel Ax, piano. Piano Pavilion. Works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Liszt.

All Saturday concerts are at 2 p.m. All other performances are at 7:30 p.m.