Northwestern doctoral candidate EunAe Lee chosen to compete in elite quadrennial

  • Competition a launching pad for careers of international concert pianists
  • EunAe Lee one of only 30 pianists selected worldwide
  • 15th Van Cliburn Competition begins May 26 in Fort Worth, Texas

EunAe Lee, a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, will perform in the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which is widely recognized as one of the most important piano competitions in the world.

The 15th Cliburn Competition takes place May 26 to June 10 at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas.

Held once every four years since 1962, the Cliburn Competition is named for Texas-born pianist Van Cliburn, who famously won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958.  Since its founding the Cliburn event has identified and ushered a host of exceptional artists to international prominence.  

Lee was among 290 applicants worldwide who submitted performance videos and resumes to the screening jury. Approximately 146 pianists from 28 countries were granted the opportunity to perform 40-minute recitals in Shanghai, Moscow, Hanover, Budapest, London, New York and Fort Worth.

The jury rated candidates on artistic vision, stamina and readiness to embark on an international career as a concert pianist.

Lee auditioned at the PepsiCo Recital Hall in Fort Worth, Texas on Feb. 18. She performed Haydn Sonata in B-flat Major, Hob. 16/41, Debussy Etude “Pour les arpèges composés” and Chopin Sonata No. 3. 

"After an exhilarating and quite thorough process, I am extremely happy with the 30 pianists who will come to the Cliburn Competition in Fort Worth this May. They are engaging and skilled, and -- most importantly -- will inspire and move you," Cliburn president and CEO Jacques Marquis said.

The 2017 Cliburn competitors hail from all over the world, representing 16 nations and locales: Russia, South Korea, the United States, Canada, Italy, Algeria, Austria, China, Croatia, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Poland, Romania, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. There are 21 men and nine women, and the competitors range in age from 18 to 30.

About EunAe Lee

EunAe Lee from Seoul, South Korea, is a prizewinner of the 2015 Bösendorfer USASU International Piano Competition, the 2014 Hilton Head International Piano Competition and the 2016 World Piano Teachers Association International Piano Competition. She also earned the Alice Rosnet Prize for her interpretation of Béla Bartók and the Bärenreiter Urtext Prize in the 2011 ARD International Music Competition in Munich. EunAe was featured at the Dame Myra Hess recital and the Pianoforte Salon Series, both broadcast live on WFMT 98.7 FM. Performance highlights include solo and chamber appearances in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and Merkin Hall, among others. EunAe holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School and an artist diploma from the Mannes College of Music, where she studied with renowned American pianist Richard Goode. Currently, EunAe is a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University studying with associate professor James Giles.

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 1962, the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is widely recognized as "one of the world's highest-visibility classical music contests" (The Dallas Morning News) and remains 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 commission-free, 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, 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 more than 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 elementary students. During the same time period, it garners the world’s attention with more than one million visits from 155 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; regular national broadcasts to 245 public radio stations; and a PBS documentary airing in a potential 105 million households.

EunAe will perform selections from her Cliburn competition repertoire in a public recital on Thursday, May 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, Ryan Center for the Musical Arts. Admission is free and no tickets are required.

  • James Giles