Here’s how you win a world-class piano contest

Here's how you win a world-class piano contest BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN   You don’t take the gold medal in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, as Yekwon Sunwoo did last year, without massive musical chops.   But the victor, who comes to Halton Theatre March 1...

So who was Van Cliburn, anyway?

So who was Van Cliburn, anyway? BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN   Yes, he lent his name to America’s most famous piano competition, one that takes place every four years in his adopted hometown of Fort Worth. Each winner comes to the Queen City via Charlotte Concerts, as 2017...

2017 Cliburn winner: Korean roots, American training, German heart

BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN   2017 Cliburn winner: Korean roots, American training, German heart   Could Yekwon Sunwoo be more of a citizen of the world? The 29-year-old pianist grew up in Anyang, a South Korean city about three-fourths the size of Charlotte. He studied in...

The greatest songwriters of the 20th century?

The greatest songwriters of the 20th century? BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN   The greatest songwriters of the 20th century?   Like discussions about boxing champs or baseball all-stars, this category starts endless arguments. Witty Cole Porter has fervent fans. Jerome Kern, no...

George Gershwin: Half a Genius

George Gershwin: Half a Genius BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN   George Gershwin: Half a Genius   The title “An American Rhapsody: The Gershwin Songbook” is missing a letter. It should actually be “Gershwins.” Without brother Ira, George would be remembered as…what? Perhaps a...

Three Geniuses That Died Young

Three Geniuses That Died Young BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN   Three geniuses who died young   Any artist who still has a creative spark dies too early, whether he’s 56 (Beethoven) or 69 (Wagner) or even 87 (Verdi). But we mourn most deeply the ones who don’t reach half a...

Siblings — but without the rivalry

Siblings -- but without the rivalry BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN   Siblings — but without the rivalry   They’re all in their 30s, they all went through Juilliard as pianists — after starting before elementary school — and they’ve toured for 13 years as the...

Is ‘Star Wars’ classical music? You bet your lightsaber.

Is 'Star Wars' classical music? You bet your lightsaber. BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN   Is ‘Star Wars’ classical music? You bet your lightsaber.   Which of these does not belong? a) Chopin b) Mozart c) Stravinsky d) Beethoven e) Williams (yes, John)   It’s a trick question:...

Five brains, 50 fingers, one mighty sound

Five brains, 50 fingers, one mighty sound BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN   You’re onstage with four siblings, blazing through an adaptation of “The Rite of Spring,” rocking 440 piano keys with Stravinsky’s ever-shifting rhythms. What does that sound like? To tell the truth,...

What Was Dvořák Doing in Iowa?

What Was Dvořák Doing in Iowa? BY PAUL ANDERSON   Antonín Dvořák, the world-famous Czech composer, spent the summer of 1893 with his family in Spillville, Iowa, a small town with a population of about 350. “What was Dvořák doing in Iowa?” you might ask. Here’s the...