Meadows to Host 2019 Cliburn Junior Competition

Alessio Bax to serve as jury chair for event open to pianists 13 to 17

2019 Cliburn International Junior Piano CompetitionThe Cliburn announces today that the second edition of the Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival, for pianists age 13 to 17, will take place May 31–June 8, 2019, in Dallas, Texas. The Preliminary through Semifinal Rounds and festival events will take place on the campus of SMU, where participants will also reside. The Final Round will be held at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, where the three finalists will perform full concertos with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (conductor to be announced early 2018). Alessio Bax, remarkable pianist, winner of both the Leeds and Hamamatsu International Piano Competitions, and SMU artist-in-residence, will serve as jury chairman. All Competition performances will be webcast live at

The Cliburn can now also announce that the Sixteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will be held May 28–June 12, 2021, at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas. Further details to be announced later in 2018.

The Junior Competition and Festival was established in 2015 as another means for the Cliburn to use its standing and expertise to encourage tomorrow’s great artists, to provide a valuable forum for them to express themselves, and to give them an entrance to the next step of their journeys. Key ingredients were top international jurors, the media and webcast, Final Round performances with orchestra, and the festival atmosphere, which included performance experience and artistic workshops—all put into place to make the program significantly useful for students with aspirations of being professional musicians.

“The last four years have been a time of growth for the Cliburn: we have fine-tuned or expanded many of our programs and added some as well—the Junior Competition being the most impactful of our new initiatives,” said Jacques Marquis, Cliburn president and CEO. “The first edition in 2015 was a great success and accomplished its intention, to help keep the Cliburn brand alive internationally over our four-year cycle and to connect us with the top international talent at an earlier age. With the second edition, we look to build upon that success.”

The First Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival was held in June 2015 and drew 160 applications from 26 countries. Over 30 journalists, including several from Europe, covered the event in person, writing over 100 stories about the Competition and the 23 pianists who participated. Live and on demand webcast views have topped 100,000 for over 1 million minutes watched by viewers in 170 countries.

“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 Marquis. “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.”

“Fort Worth was Van Cliburn’s home and is the Cliburn’s permanent home,” Marquis continued. “It will, in perpetuity, play host to the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. We have no intention of lessening our presence in Fort Worth; in fact, we have been increasing our programs in our hometown. Our offices are in downtown Fort Worth; our concert series are held in Fort Worth; our education program visits every elementary school in Fort Worth each year; and our community partnerships have never been stronger—including those with longtime, cherished collaborators TCU and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. We are proud to be adding to that robust Cliburn family now with the outstanding organizations and people of Dallas.”

“It’s a great privilege for the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU to host this world-class event,” said Samuel Holland, dean of Meadows. “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. Our beautiful campus and performance facilities are an ideal environment for the competitors and those who come to experience the public events. We look forward to greeting the world’s finest young pianists with a warm Dallas welcome. And it’s almost poetic that Meadows’ own alumnus and visiting artist, Alessio Bax, will serve as chairman of the jury.”

“The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition has always set a very high bar of excellence, innovation, and commitment,” said Alessio Bax, 2019 Cliburn Junior Competition chairman of the jury. “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 chair the jury of the next Cliburn Junior Competition.”

“The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is delighted to partner with The Cliburn on the Junior Competition,” said Michelle Miller Burns, Interim President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony Association. “The DSO is looking forward to welcoming this youngest generation of concert pianists to Dallas and to the Meyerson stage.”

Tickets to attend the Competition will go on sale in early 2019. The Cliburn will also have travel arrangement options for Fort Worth patrons planning to attend.


Selection Process

Applications for the 2019 Junior Competition, as well as full requirements for candidates, will be available at beginning March 1, 2018, and will be due January 10, 2019. Applicants must have been born between June 8, 2002, and May 31, 2006.

A screening jury will select 24 competitors through online applications and video submissions, which will be 15 to 20 minutes in length and include one etude, one movement of a Classical sonata, and one expressive Romantic work. (Works performed in screening videos can be repeated during Competition rounds, but no works can be repeated within Competition rounds.) Competitors will be announced to the public on March 13, 2019. New for the second edition, 14 additional pianists will be accepted as non-competing festival participants and will have the opportunity to take part in master classes, private lessons, workshops, and other elective activities.

Competitors and festival participants will be housed at SMU for the duration of the Competition and Festival.

The Competition

The Junior Competition will consist of four rounds:

  • PRELIMINARY ROUND—24 pianists, each performing a 20-minute recital to include a virtuosic étude and one three- or four-voice Bach Prelude and Fugue.
  • QUARTERFINAL ROUND—14 pianists, each performing a 30-minute recital to include the first or last movement of a Classical sonata (some restrictions will apply).
  • SEMIFINAL ROUND—6 pianists, each performing a 40-minute recital (to include one large work of at least 18 minutes in length and a contemporary work) and one concerto movement with piano accompaniment (movement to be selected by the Cliburn).
  • FINAL ROUND—3 pianists, each performing one complete concerto with orchestra.

Please note that exact repertoire requirements will be posted at by March 1, 2018.

Competition Rounds will be open to the public; tickets will go on sale in early 2019.

The Prizes

The first-prize winner will receive a cash award of $15,000; second prize is $10,000; and third prize is $5,000. All three top prizes will also include scholarships, and community residency and mentorship opportunities with the Cliburn. Other special prizes will be announced in 2018.

The Festival

The Cliburn will offer a variety of events aimed at the artistic advancement of the competitors, festival attendees, and other pianists, including master classes, guest artist recital(s), workshops, chamber music and four-hand reading, one-on-one mentorship meetings, and more. The Festival will also share the gifts of elite young pianists with the community, through free recitals around Dallas. Schedule to be announced in 2019.

About Alessio Bax, jury chairman

Combining exceptional lyricism and insight with consummate technique, Alessio Bax is without a doubt “among the most remarkable young pianists now before the public” (Gramophone). He catapulted to prominence with first prize wins at both the Leeds and Hamamatsu International Piano Competitions, and is now a familiar face on four continents, not only as a recitalist and chamber musician, but as a concerto soloist who has appeared with more than 100 orchestras, including the London and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, Dallas and Cincinnati Symphonies, NHK Symphony in Japan, St. Petersburg Philharmonic with Yuri Temirkanov, and the City of Birmingham Symphony with Sir Simon Rattle.

After inaugurating a new three-year appointment as artistic director of Tuscany’s Incontri in Terra di Siena festival in summer 2017, Mr. Bax launches Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s 2017–2018 season in company with his wife and fellow pianist, Lucille Chung. Further highlights of his full season include a pair of high-profile U.S. duo recital tours with violinist Joshua Bell and flutist Emmanuel Pahud, respectively; U.K. solo recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall and the Leeds Piano Festival; collaborations with U.S. orchestras from the Minnesota Orchestra to the North Carolina Philharmonic, on concertos by Gershwin, Grieg, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, and Schumann; return engagements in Yerevan with the Armenian Philharmonic and in Hong Kong; and Signum Classics’ release of his recording of Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto with the Southbank Sinfonia, paired with rarely heard solo works by the master composer.

Last season, Mr. Bax returned to the Vancouver Symphony for MacDowell’s Second Piano Concerto with Bramwell Tovey, and stepped in at the eleventh hour to play Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony under Sir Andrew Davis, in what proved “the most exciting debut in recent memory” (Cincinnati Enquirer). He also gave three performances at the Wigmore Hall, including his solo recital debut, which aired live on BBC Radio 3, and a duo recital with his regular collaborator, Berlin Philharmonic concertmaster Dashin Kashimoto, by way of a coda to their extensive Asian tour. Other highlights of recent seasons include Mozart with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Hans Graf; Rachmaninov with London’s Southbank Sinfonia led by Vladimir Ashkenazy; his Minnesota Orchestra debut under Andrew Litton; a return to the Dallas Symphony for Barber under Jaap van Zweden; season-opening appearances with the Colorado Symphony; and concerts at L.A.’s Disney Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. In 2009, the pianist was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and four years later he received both the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award and Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, which recognizes young artists of exceptional accomplishment.

Mr. Bax’s acclaimed discography for Signum Classics includes a solo album of Mussorgsky and Scriabin; a guest appearance on Chung’s disc of Poulenc piano works; Lullabies for Mila, a collection dedicated to their baby daughter; Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” and “Moonlight” Sonatas (a Gramophone “Editor’s Choice”); Bax & Chung (Stravinsky, Brahms, and Piazzolla); Alessio Bax plays Mozart (Piano Concertos K. 491 and K. 595); Alessio Bax plays Brahms (a Gramophone “Critics’ Choice”); Bach Transcribed; and Rachmaninov: Preludes & Melodies (an American Record Guide “Critics’ Choice 2011”). Recorded for Warner Classics, his Baroque Reflections album was also a Gramophone “Editor’s Choice.”

At age 14, Alessio Bax graduated with top honors from the conservatory of Bari, his hometown in Italy, and after further studies in Europe, he moved to the United States in 1994. A Steinway artist, he lives in New York City with pianist Lucille Chung and their daughter, Mila.

About The Dallas Symphony Orchestra

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, under the leadership of Music Director Jaap van Zweden, presents the finest in orchestral music at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, regarded as one of the world's premier concert halls. As the largest performing arts organization in the Southwest, the DSO is committed to inspiring the broadest possible audience with distinctive classical programs, inventive pops concerts and innovative multi-media presentations. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the orchestra reaches more than 230,000 adults and children through performances, educational programs and community outreach initiatives. The DSO’s involvement with the City of Dallas and the surrounding region includes an award-winning multi-faceted educational program, community projects, popular parks concerts and youth programming. The DSO has a tradition dating back to 1900, and it is a cornerstone of the unique, 68 acre Arts District in downtown Dallas that is home to multiple performing arts venues, museums and parks; the largest district of its kind in the nation. The DSO is supported, in part, by funds from the Office of Cultural Affairs, City of Dallas.

About SMU and the Meadows School of the Arts

A nationally ranked private university located near the heart of Dallas, SMU is a distinguished center for global research with a liberal arts tradition. SMU’s 11,000 diverse, high-achieving students come from all 50 states and 90 countries to take advantage of the University’s small classes, hands-on research opportunities, leadership development, community service, international study, and innovative programs. The University offers a strong foundation in the humanities and sciences and undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs through seven schools.

The Meadows School of the Arts, formally established at SMU in 1969 and named in honor of benefactor Algur H. Meadows, is a nationally recognized arts education institution. The Meadows School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in advertising, art, art history, arts management and arts entrepreneurship, corporate communication and public affairs, creative computation, dance, film and media arts, journalism, music and theatre. The school is a leader in developing innovative outreach and community engagement programs, challenging its students to make a difference locally and globally by developing connections between art, entrepreneurship and change. The Meadows School is also a convener for the arts in North Texas, serving as a catalyst for new collaborations and providing critical industry research.

About The Cliburn

The Cliburn advances classical piano music throughout the world. Its international competitions, education programs, and concert series embody an enduring commitment to artistic excellence and the discovery of new artists. Established in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1962, the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (sixteenth edition, May/June 2021) remains the most visible expression of that mission and is, as always, committed to its original ideals of supporting and launching the careers of young artists, ages 18–30. It shares the transformative powers of music with a wide global audience, through fully-produced webcasts and by providing comprehensive career management and concert bookings to its winners. Rounding out its mission, the Cliburn also produces the Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival for exceptional 13 to 17-year-old pianists (second edition, May/June 2019), and the Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition for outstanding non-professional pianists age 35 and older (eighth edition, June 2020).

Over a four-year cycle, the Cliburn contributes to North Texas’ cultural landscape with over 170 classical music performances for 150,000 attendees, through competitions, free community concerts, and its signature Cliburn Concerts series at Bass Performance Hall, the Kimbell Art Museum Piano Pavilion, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. It presents 1,000 in-school, interactive music education programs for more than 200,000 area elementary students. During the same time period, it garners the world’s attention with over five million visits from 170 nations for live concert and competition webcasts; 300 concerts worldwide booked for competition winners; more than 5,000 news articles about the Cliburn and its winners; and regular national radio broadcasts to 245 public radio stations. Detailed information about the Cliburn and its programs is available at

Cliburn Sponsors are:

Amon G. Carter Foundation
Arts Council of Fort Worth
BNSF Foundation
Crystelle Waggoner Charitable Trust
Mercedes T. Bass Charitable Corporation
Sid W. Richardson Foundation
The Burnett Foundation
The Pangburn Foundation / J.P.Morgan
The Walton Family Foundation
William E. Scott Foundation

Exclusive Print Media Sponsor:

Official Piano of the Cliburn:
Steinway & Sons – North Texas / Houston

Official Hotel of the Cliburn:
Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel