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This year's Cliburn piano competition has a brand-new home

Cliburn CEO Jacques Marquis welcomes contestants Wednesay to the 16th Van Cliburn Piano Competition
Jerome Weeks
Cliburn CEO Jacques Marquis welcomes contestants Wednesay to the 16th Cliburn Piano Competition in TCU's new Van Cliburn Hall

The TCU Music Center just opened, and the university's $53 million facility will be the Cliburn's new home. The early rounds are in the center's wood-paneled and appropriately named Van Cliburn Concert Hall.

This week, 30 contestants from around the world started vying to win the Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth. The original home for the Cliburn competition was across University Drive on the TCU campus, in Ed Landreth Auditorium with its 1,200 seats.

At Wednesday morning's welcoming breakfast for the competitors, Cliburn CEO Jacques Marquis said the new performance hall adds a welcome dimension and a new challenge to the renowned competition.

"This is a recital hall, 700 seats, which is very nice," Marquis said. "It's a very live, smallish hall. Then we're at Bass Hall for the recital rounds, and Bass Hall is 2,000 seats. Since we're in the business of launching careers, they [the contestants] have to manage different halls, different pianos. And how they manage that gives more information [about the contestants' abilities] to the jury members, which I love."

The interior of the new Van Cliburn concert hall with Russian pianist Elizaveta Kliuchereva at the keyboard.jpg
Ralph Lauer
The Cliburn
The interior of TCU's new Van Cliburn Concert Hall with Russian contestant Elizaveta Kliuchevera rehearsing.

In addition to the Cliburn Hall, which features a giant bust of the famed pianist in its lobby, the new TCU Music Center contains a rehearsal space for the TCU Symphony Orchestra, percussion studios and a marching band rehearsal room, plus offices and individual practice rooms.

Sixty years after it started, the 16th Cliburn International Piano Competition continues through June 18 — when it concludes at Bass Hall.

Got a tip? Email Jerome Weeks at You can follow him on Twitter @dazeandweex.

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Jerome Weeks is the Art&Seek producer-reporter for KERA. A professional critic for more than two decades, he was the book columnist for The Dallas Morning News for ten years and the paper’s theater critic for ten years before that. His writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, American Theatre and Men’s Vogue magazines.