Passion and pain
It's passion that keeps them playing and sometimes it's passion that causes them to stop.
Most of the competitors in the Amateur Cliburn studied piano in
their youth, then slowly abandoned playing as they established families
and careers. Others admit that they gave up in frustration.
Competitor Antoni Gryzik, a television engineer from France, says he
once threw a piano out a window during a crisis of confidence.
Jose Mauro Peixoto, a stock portfolio manager from Sao Paulo,
Brazil, quit playing for 28 years after being discouraged from making
music a career. He only started again when a long-time friend asked him
to play as a 40th birthday present.
Ellen Weiss Dodson, a mother of two and a health care marketing
professional from Boston, says she stopped for 20 years simply for lack
"I always had the passion for music. But I hid it from myself. I
wouldn't go to symphonies or concerts because I felt embarrassed that
it wasn't me up there playing."
Competitors at the Amateur Cliburn say classical musicians need to
do more to draw audiences in a country more tuned in to J-Lo than J.S.
The problem, they say, is that classical music isn't easy entertainment.
"It doesn't wash over you the way pop music does. It takes some
thought. It's not instant gratification," says competitor Victor Dyni,
a retired music librarian from Washington, D.C. "Americans want instant
gratification. Just look at American Idol. They all want to be instant stars."
The answer: Hype, says competitor Victor Alexeeff, a Nova Scotia-born film composer.
"We don't do any marketing," Alexeeff says.
And since many school arts programs have been canceled, says
competitor Henri Delbeau, a New York physician, "It's up to people like
us to introduce more children to classical music by playing at schools