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Ukraine pianist wins Cliburn piano competition

Monday - 6/10/2013, 5:18am  ET

ANGELA K. BROWN
Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Vadym Kholodenko, a Ukrainian pianist and music teacher, has won the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, just four months after the death of the contest's namesake.

Beatrice Rana, 20, of Italy, placed second, and Sean Chen, 24, of the United States, placed third, officials announced Sunday night. The other three finalists were Fei-Fei Dong, 22, of China; Nikita Mndoyants, 24, of Russia; and Tomoki Sakata, 19, of Japan.

The winner receives $50,000, a live recording of his or her competition performances, a studio recording and performance attire. The second- and third-prize winners both receive $20,000 and a live recording of their competition performances. The other three each receive $10,000, and all six finalists receive three years of concert management.

The competition, which is held every four years and remains among the top showcases for the world's best pianists, started May 24 with 30 competitors. Some Fort Worth teachers and residents who wanted to honor Cliburn created the contest in 1962, four years after he won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. His 1958 victory helped thaw the icy rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, and Cliburn gained worldwide fame and rock-star status.

Cliburn died in February at age 78 at his Fort Worth home after battling bone cancer. He was never a judge in the competition bearing his name but presented awards to winners.

"This competition continues to be what Van wanted: support to young, excellent artists who want to share their art with wider audiences," said Cliburn's president and chief executive Jacques Marquis. "They bring to the classical world a new voice."

People around the world watched performances online, and fans raved on social media about their favorite competitors. During the entire contest, the Cliburn's webcast had about half a million page views, more than twice the amount in the previous competition, in 2009, according to competition officials.

Kholodenko, 26, said he was glad his wife could watch all of his performances online as she remained in Moscow with their toddler daughter.

"She tried not to criticize too much because she understood the pressure," he told The Associated Press after winning Sunday night. "She was supportive, like all of my family and friends. ... Before the Mozart (performance Sunday) I had to turn my phone off because I was getting so many calls and texts."

Kholodenko, who had wowed the audience Sunday with his last performance, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, also won awards for best performance of a new work and best performance of chamber music. He credits his mother with his success that began with piano lessons at age 5, saying she never pushed him. He won the International Schubert Competition in Dortmund in 2012 and the Sendai International Music Competition in 2010. He attends the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where he also is an assistant teacher.

Rana, who started playing the piano at age 4, graduated from the Nino Rota Conservatory of Music and now studies at the Hochschule f
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