What’s wrong with piano competitions? Michael Johnson, writing for Facts & Arts, thinks there are too many, they limit artistic development, and, perhaps most damning, the judging process is terribly flawed.
The most dramatic events have swirled around Veda Kaplinski, head of piano at New York’s Juilliard School. At the Van Cliburn International Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, in June, she was criticized for helping shepherd 12 performers with whom she has direct or indirect relationships into the competition in her capacity as chair of the pre-selection committee. In the previous Cliburn competition, she managed to bring seven of her eight students to Fort Worth.
Young competition players have nicknamed her “Darth Veda”.
Although she escaped outright death threats this year, she had moments of anxiety at the previous Cliburn competition four years ago, prompting her to call the Fort Worth Police twice.
Mme. Kaplinsky was the object of a “smear campaign”, according to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram newspaper, that included harassing email messages, an anonymous letter, internet postings and late-night phone calls.
Johnson’s New York Times Op-Ed, The Dark Side of Piano Competitions, is here.