Nasher Sculpture Center will host a concert tribute to the late great Van Cliburn, featuring pianist Leon Fleisher, Juilliard String Quartet and pianists from the Cliburn Competition, including Lindsay Garritson, Andrea Lam, Alex McDonald, Tomoko Sakata, Yekwon Sunwoo and Amy Yang.
In the springtime of 1963 pianist Leon Fleisher and the Juilliard String Quartet recorded the Brahms Piano Quintet offering an interpretation of a monumental work that would inform generations of musicians. They made music in the shadow of the frightening battle of wills that gripped the world during the Cuban Missile Crisis just a few months before and although the uncomfortable normalcy of the Cold War years had returned, these international crises could not erase the echoes of a remarkable moment in history when music, and not missiles, was the focus of international attention.
Five years earlier, Nikita Khrushchev had sanctioned Van Cliburn’s triumph at the Tchaikovsky Competition. But politics had no voice in the eight-minute standing ovation that Van Cliburn’s performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto elicited from the audience and extraordinarily, from members of the orchestra with whom he had just played. This was a moment that moved beyond music’s ability to reach each of us in deeply personal ways. It transcended politics and culture, touching something elemental in our desire to recognize what we share and not what makes us different.
We pay tribute to this legacy left to us by Van Cliburn and continued through the work of the Cliburn Foundation, bringing together seven past participants of the Cliburn Competition for a performance of Olivier Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen and reuniting Mr. Fleisher, the Julliard Quartet and the Brahms Quintet more than a half- century later.