The 2022 Cliburn competition and politics during the war in Ukraine

Posted on: June 10, 2022

The hands of Dmytro Choni, the sole Ukrainian competitor in this month’s Cliburn piano competition in Fort Worth, Texas, as Choni rehearses for the competition. Photo: Jake Dockins / New York Times

“The war in Ukraine looms over the prestigious contest named for the pianist Van Cliburn, who was a symbol for art transcending global politics,” writes Javier C. Hernández in Wednesday’s (6/8) New York Times. “The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition … defying pressure to ban Russian competitors after the invasion of Ukraine, had invited six Russians to take part, as well as two pianists from Belarus, which has supported the Russian invasion. A Ukrainian also made the cut…. Several competitors … said that they found it difficult to think beyond the war. ‘It’s a tragedy, what’s happening now,’ said Dmytro Choni, a 28-year-old pianist from Kyiv. ‘I’m trying to stay focused on the music.’… The Cliburn has [warned] competitors that any statements in support of Putin or the invasion of Ukraine could result in disqualification or the revocation of awards…. Many of the Russian competitors now live outside Russia and have said that they are fiercely opposed to the invasion…. Anna Geniushene, a 31-year-old pianist from Moscow … who lives in Lithuania, [said], ‘Being an artist doesn’t mean that … you’re living in a completely different world…. You must speak up.’ ”