for pianists age 13 to 17

The Fourth Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival will take place in Dallas, Texas in June 2027. Further details regarding application, venues, jury, competition schedule, and festival events will be announced in 2026.


The Junior Competition and Festival was established in 2015 as another means for the Cliburn to use its standing and expertise to encourage tomorrow’s great artists, to provide a valuable forum for them to express themselves, and to give them an entrance to the next step of their journeys. Key ingredients were top international jurors, the media and webcast, Final Round performances with orchestra, and the festival atmosphere, which included performance experience and artistic workshops.


The Cliburn Junior has held three editions since its inception in 2015. The 2019 Cliburn Junior was hosted in Dallas, Texas and became the first major Cliburn program held outside of Fort Worth. The Cliburn Junior continues to be held in Dallas and serves as a great connection between our cities, developing deeper relationships with the community and partner organizations, such as SMU and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.


The Cliburn’s mission is to advance classical piano music throughout the world. Around the globe, the organization is well known as the producer of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, considered one of the top contests of its kind in the world. That stature, reputation, and effectiveness was achieved and continues to grow because of an unfailing commitment to excellence; continuous innovation that builds on experience and expertise and utilizes the newest tools of the day; and an undying, deep love of exceptional artists.

Over the now 61 years of the Cliburn’s existence, that trajectory of advancement led to the addition of a host of other programs, from education initiatives and concert series to an international piano competition for the world’s best amateur pianists.

Then, in 2015, another major expansion: the Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival. Why? Becoming a top-notch pianist in your 20s doesn’t happen overnight. The participants of the Cliburn Competition have lived many years of great dedication, inspiration, and challenge before they earn their spots to play on one of classical music’s most prominent stages, before they’re ready to compete for their chance at a performance career. As teenagers, they are already extremely good musicians, and they are at a pivotal time in their development as pianists and as people.

The Cliburn’s expertise and world standing makes it uniquely suited to aid in that development. This was the basis for the Junior Competition and Festival: to encourage tomorrow’s great artists, to provide a valuable forum for them to express themselves, and to give them an entrance to the next step of their journeys. Upon its announcement, the event was already believed to be the best amongst its peers. The Cliburn would bring the same commitment to excellence that the professional competition is known for, but to realize the specific goals of this new event.

The competition element is an important piece that allows the top 13- to 17-year-old pianists to measure themselves against others who share their gifts and dedication, in front of a panel of truly esteemed jurors. And the high-quality webcast showcases their musical vision to a large international audience.

But the active festival portion is just as, if not more, beneficial to the musicians joining us in Dallas. The Cliburn taps its vast network of artists and teachers to bring in a wide swath of experts for masterclasses, artist conversations, and performance discussions. A series of small group workshops led by industry specialists take participants through topics such as stagecraft, personal branding, conservatory and college admissions, and career pathways. And a number of community concerts provide valuable performance experience.

Perhaps the most valuable takeaway from past participants is the long-lasting, meaningful relationships that they formed at the Cliburn Junior. When you bring together 38 extraordinary young people—24 competitors plus 14 additional festival artists—what results is, of course, extraordinary: no matter where they are from in the world or what their experiences have been, they have a deep camaraderie that transcends any perceived differences. They learn so much from each other over the course of this two-week, high-intensity, super high-level piano camp of sorts. They also room together in dorms, go to Six Flags, have sightreading parties, and just get to be teenagers together. They find connection in a world, age, and time that can create such isolation—especially for those spending so much time alone in practice rooms in pursuit of their art.

The Cliburn Junior has a special sauce. It has a magic. For the artists, and for all fortunate enough to experience it.