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Meadows to Welcome 2019 Cliburn International Junior Competition and Festival

24 teen pianists to compete at SMU in Preliminary, Quarterfinal and Semifinal rounds, May 31-June 6

Ten New Steinway Grand Pianos Added to Meadows Inventory

The 24 competitors in the 2019 Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition will be among the first pianists to practice on 10 brand-new Steinway Model M grand pianos, thanks to generous gifts from the Estate of Jeanne R. Johnson, the Jeanne R. Johnson Piano Program Special Initiatives Fund and the Florence Hoskins Gahagan Educational Memorial Endowment Fund. The grands, to be delivered to the Owen Arts Center in late May, will be  added to the stable of SMU Meadows Division of Music pianos, a collection that includes approximately 112 Steinway, Yamaha and Fazioli pianos.

The Model M Steinway grands will be placed in the Jeanne Roach Johnson practice rooms in the lower level of the Owen Arts Center, and will be available to Meadows piano majors in the upcoming academic year.

SMU Meadows School of the Arts has the honor of welcoming the second edition of the Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition, May 31 through June 6. Twenty-four pianists ages 13 to 17 from 11 countries will compete in Meadows’ Caruth Auditorium in Preliminary, Quarterfinal and Semifinal rounds.

Three finalists will then compete in the Final Round at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on June 8, performing full concertos with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The competition is the first major Cliburn program to be held in Dallas.

This year, 14 additional pianists have been accepted as non-competing festival participants and will take part in master classes, private lessons, workshops and other elective activities at SMU and in Dallas. All of the competitors and festival participants will be housed at SMU. On-campus housing and meals for the 24 Cliburn Junior Piano Competition contestants have been underwritten by a generous grant from Linda P. and William A. Custard.

Music performance at the highest level has been part of SMU since its earliest days, and the new partnership with the Cliburn will extend that legacy,” said Samuel Holland, dean of Meadows. “We look forward to greeting the world’s finest young pianists with a warm Dallas welcome.”

The junior competition, which is held every four years, was established in 2015 to encourage exceptional young artists. It is the sister of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, widely considered one of the world’s preeminent music contests, founded in 1962 for artists ages 18 to 30.

“One key to continuing the Cliburn’s strategic advancement is to continuously reach a broader community, both around the world and in our own backyard,” said Jacques Marquis, Cliburn president and CEO. “We are pleased to be presenting the second edition of this still-new program in Dallas in 2019, and believe it will expose the Cliburn to a greater audience base in the region, as well as bring fantastic new partnerships with SMU, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and more to come.”

SMU alumna Laura Bush (’68) serves as honorary chair of the event. International concert pianist and SMU Meadows alumnus Alessio Bax (Artist Certificate ’96 and M.M. ’98) serves as jury chairman.

“The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition has always set a very high bar of excellence, innovation and commitment,” said Bax. “The new developments of the Junior Competition, with its association with my dear alma mater, SMU, and the wonderful Dallas Symphony Orchestra, are sure to make it the most exciting event of its kind and most importantly an excellent and inspiring springboard for young talents from all over the world. I believe the key to a bright future is to provide opportunities for our youth, and it is with the utmost sense of responsibility and great honor that I look forward to chairing the jury of the next Cliburn Junior Competition.”

The event is open to the public. For tickets, visit or call the Dallas Symphony box office at 214.849.4376.

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