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April 22, 2009
Van Cliburn piano competition goes digital...and interactive


Soon you will be able to track the developments at the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition from the comfort of your living room.

That's because the competition will be broadcast live online from May 22 to June 7.

Not that streaming the competition is a new thing for the Van Cliburn Foundation, which runs the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

The foundation has been streaming the competition online since 2001. But for this competition, it has added extensive functionality to its online offerings. The sophisticated new functions will allow viewers to follow all 30 competitors - in real time.

The webcast (which can be accessed at, is using the same technology used for the Beijing Olympics, with performances streamed live and archived for "on-demand" viewering. It will broadcast 11 hours per day.

An online audience vote, a function that proved popular in the 2005 competition, will be featured again this year. These are held during each round of competition, allowing viewers to weigh their opinions against the jury's. Audience favorites will be recognized during the awards ceremony on June 7, but do not have a bearing on judge voting.

The webcasts will also take a fresh approach to interactivity by featuring the option to view program commentary, which will appear periodically on the bottom of the screen. These will offer pointers alerting the viewer for what to listen for while each piece is being performed.

Live coverage of four symposia presented during the competition finals will also be available on the site. Other features include an "e-mail the competitor" option, two blogs, and video portraits of all pianists.

That competition was first held in 1962 in Fort Worth, Texas, and formed by that city's teachers in honor of pianist Harvey Van Cliburn, Jr., who won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 with a stellar performance of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3

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