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Speaking of Pianists » 2011» May

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    Archive for May, 2011

    Bend Resident Judy Darst Succeeds at the Cliburn

    Wednesday, May 25th, 2011



    Yesterday (Monday) it was Brad Arington and Valentina Radov, and today (Tuesday) Judy Darst and Dominic Piers Smith. Ms. Darst chose her repertoire carefully but imaginatively, the selections emphasizing strengths rather than weaknesses. Seldom heard selections by Granados, Rachmaninoff, and Schubert seemed tailor-made for her temperament and style of pianism, and while she will never send audiences into wild frenzies with hammer-and-tongs potboilers, she will always demonstrate what it’s like to play from the heart and soul with pieces which she is completely comfortable with.


    Quoted from David Yeomans’ Cliburn Foundation blog.



    Cliburn Competition for Outstanding Amateurs

    Monday, May 23rd, 2011


    -and some great news from the blogs about Portland pianist, Darlene Cusick.


    “Pianists who only play one piece in the first round take a chance but she was on safe ground with her assay of Barber’s Sonata, Op. 26. She had a firm grasp of the piece and gave it an impressive performance. She was especially good in the fugue as she kept all of the independent lines clear and the fugal subject on top of the texture every time it appeared. She deserves to move on.”

    I’ll second that opinion, having heard her performance thanks to the streamed and archived performances at


    Although I only listened to Cusick’s performance today, blogger Gregory Sullivan Isaacs take on the day concludes with this review of Chicago pianist Janet Underhill:  “…Ginastera’s Danzas Argentinas that was possibly the most impressive performance of the day. The program bio said that she played in a big band and that background really came through in the jazzy Latin dances rhythms of this piece. We all cheered when it was over.”


    Stay tuned tomorrow for another Oregon resident – and her son – play the Preliminary Round at the Cliburn tomorrow.




    Mother and son competing against each other.

    Wednesday, May 18th, 2011


    In addition to Portland pianists Darlene Cusick and John DeRuntz, Bend resident Judy Darst will also compete in the sixth Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. The competition begins next week in Ft. Worth, Texas, and includes doctors, lawyers and even a Formula One race car designer.


    A first for the competition will be the mother and son competitors Judy and Seth Darst. Judy is a retired piano teacher from Bend, Oregon, and her son Seth is a professor of molecular biophysics at The Rockefeller University in Manhattan.


    The competition will be live-streamed beginning Monday, May 23rd.


    For details about several of the 70 plus contestants, and information about the dates of the competition, check here.