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More Viewers, No-Nonsense Medalists Mark 14th Cliburn Competition

Carolyn Cruz
The Cliburn

Five stories that have North Texas talking: New interest in classical music, via the Cliburn and Dallas' neo-soul queen Erykah Badu; STEM jobs grow in Dallas; what it's like to choose between prescription medication and food for the week, and more.

The Cliburn Competition would see some changes this year after founder Van Cliburn’s death, KERA’s Bill Zeeble told us last week. At the end of the game, one of those changes: A bigger audience for the classical excellence Cliburn lived to sustain. The 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition’s webcast had about half a million page views - more than double the hits from the last competition in 2009, the AP reports.

One of those watching online was Sofia Kholodenko, the pianist wife of Vadym Kholodenko, who won the gold on Sunday. She was in Moscow with their young daughter as her husband, 26, took  the $50,000 top prize. Rounding out the big three were silver medalist Beatrice Rana of Italy, 20, and Sean Chen, 24, of Oak Park, Calif. Chen was the first American to make the winners’ circle since 1997.

Vadym, who’s Ukranian, downplayed the formalities of his win.

“It’s kind of fun for the audience, for the press. It’s interesting to put ‘first,’ ‘second,’ ‘10th,’ but in life, not so important,” he said.

The top three winners each gain three years of professional management and commission-free bookings here and overseas, among other career-supporting treasures. (Performance attire by Neiman Marcus is part of Kholodenko’s trove only.)

  • The Brooklyn Phil's New Artist-In-Residence? Erykah Badu: Dallas' musical star is no stranger to orchestral sounds, as her own brand of funk and neo-soul calls for depth and articulation in the music. In fact, you could say she's "comfy" with the idea of collaborating with an orchestra. That's just the word the singer used last week to describe her new relationship with the Brooklyn Philharmonic as Artist-In-Residence (she takes the baton from Mos Def). In an interview with WNYC's John Schaefer for Soundcheck, Badu chats about her first interaction with the musicians and conductor Alan Pierson ahead of a live team-up debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  Watch the spirited version of Badu's "Twinkle" that resulted below.

  • The Perks Of STEM Jobs: Texas lawmakers have funded STEM academies to drive focus to science, engineering, technology and math for more than seven years. How's the job market looking for kids steeped in that system? As of 2011, 20 percent of all jobs in the U.S. require a high level of proficiency in STEM subjects. The Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington are sits slightly higher than the national average at 20.4 percent, according to Brookings' "The Hidden Stem Economy" study. “Computer occupations” take the lead in types of science, tech engineering and math-focused jobs available in the area. Check out the DFW-Arlington metro profile here.  

  • Remembering The Dallas Firefighter Killed In West: Capt. Kenny Harris Jr. had the day off. He was at a cookout, even, near his home in West, where he usually drove 75 miles to work as a firefighter in Dallas. But he was at home on April 17 when he saw the smoke near the fertilizer plant. He still rushed to the plant, knowing the volunteer firefighters would need help assessing the situation – it was too dangerous, and he needed to warn them. So Harris, called “Luckey,” rushed past a constable to do that. And then the fertilizer plant exploded, leaving him and 14 others dead. The Dallas Morning News' Dave Tarrant takes an in-depth look at Harris' final hours in today's paper. [Dallas News]

  • Medical Bills A Hurdle For African Americans: One of the greatest causes of economic insecurity in America: medical bills. African Americans are more at risk for chronic diabetes and high blood pressure – and affording treatment remains a struggle. A recent poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health shows 24 percent of African American families have trouble paying for the prescription medication they need. Ashley Liggins of Fort Worth responded to an open call on  Facebook, recounting the choice she had to make between blood pressure meds, or gas for her car, or a week’s worth of food. She reduced her prescribed dose and borrowed pills from her mom. [NPR]