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The Van Cliburn Effect

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The Van Cliburn Effect

9 July 2017 / William Anderson / On the Beat

In response to the present desultory state of affairs, we are now seeing some encouraging developments. Call it The Van Cliburn Effect. Shortly after Sputnik put the USSR ahead of the US in the space race, Van Cliburn surprised the world by winning the Tchaikovsky Competition. The judges were afraid to cast their votes without Krushchev’s apporval, and so they consulted with him. Krushchev asked, “Is he the best?” . The judges affirmed, and he continued, “Then give him the prize!”

The Van Cliburn Effect—a moment of cultural upward mobility

Families are gravitating towards substance & quality, adopting a culturally upwardly mobile direction, a parry to the thrust toward beauty pageants, reality TV, wrestling and such. And so we see Summer Sonatina in Bennington, Vermont, enjoying an unprecedented crop of hard working, thoughtful pianists. Summer Sonatina’s excellent faculty is preparing these young artists to turn the country around.

Here is an example from Summer Sonatina’s last weekend concert:

Ben Wolfson performing on last Thursday’s concert in Bennington

Many thanks to Summer Sonatina’s Director Polly van der Linde, and her excellent faculty, the students and their parents for pushing in an encouraging direction.




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