Vadym Kholodenko, a 26-year-old pianist from Ukraine, has been named as the winner of the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
At the end of 17 days of competition in Fort Worth, Texas, Kholodenko impressed the judges with performances of Prokofiev’s Third and Mozart’s 21st Piano Concertos. He wins the prestigious gold medal, $50,000 in prize money, a string of concert dates and live recordings on Harmonia Mundi USA and, rather fetchingly, concert attire from Neiman Marcus luxury department stote.
The Ukrainian was placed ahead of Italian Beatrice Rana, who took the silver medal and Sean Chen of the US, who won the crystal award. The other finalists were Fie-Fei Dong of China, Nikita Mndoyants of Russia and Tomoki Sakata of Japan.
For some observers, Kholodenko’s victory came as something of a surprise, as Rana appeared to be the stand-out competitor for much of the competition – indeed, it was the Italian who took the audience award. And Kholodenko himself pointed out afterwards that the ranking themselves were not that important: ‘It’s kind of fun for audience, for press. It’s interesting to put first, second, 10th and so on. But in life, not so important.’
Now in its 52nd year, the Van Cliburn competition is held every four years and has become one of the most prestigious of its kind, with former winners including Radu Lupu and Cristina Ortiz. It was founded by and named after the brilliant US pianist, who died earlier this year.