Benjamin Loeb

Benjamin Loeb

Benjamin Loeb is an accomplished conductor, pianist, arranger, educator, arts administrator, and entrepreneur. As a conductor, Mr. Loeb has led orchestras across the United States and around the world. His varied projects range across all genres, from concerts of Beethoven symphonies and recordings with Yo-Yo Ma, tours with popular rock musicians, and world premieres of the most cutting-edge contemporary music. At the invitation of the U.S. Department of State, Mr. Loeb toured Argentina and Uruguay as an Artistic Ambassador, performing recitals of the music of American composer Scott Joplin and giving masterclasses and workshops with youth orchestras and young musicians. A graduate of Harvard, Juilliard, Curtis, and Peabody, Mr. Loeb brings his passion for high-level performance into the education sphere through leadership and direction of several youth orchestras and international conducting workshops.

He lives in Plano, TX, with his wife, Quyen, and three children. Mr. Loeb’s far-ranging interests do not limit him to music; he is a proud Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, and has directed plays, cooked gourmet meals for 65, tutored over 500 people in test preparation for the Princeton Review, and played and enjoyed almost every sport. Moreover (or most importantly), he is a lifetime Dallas Cowboys fan.

Beatrice Rana

Originally broadcast Friday, May 24, 2013

CLEMENTI Sonata in B Minor, op. 40, no. 2
SCHUMANN Études en forme de variations, op. 133

Beatrice’s meteoric rise since the 2013 Competition is cemented by recognition as Gramophone’s 2017 Young Artist of the Year, Edison Klassiek’s 2017 Discovery of the Year, 2016 Borletti-Buitoni Fellow, 2015 BBC New Generation Artist, and 2018 nomination for Classic BRIT Female Artist of the Year. She has released three acclaimed albums as an exclusive Warner Classics recording artist, and enjoys performing in the world’s most esteemed venues, both in solo recitals and collaborations with such orchestras as the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Chicago, Toronto, and Dallas Symphonies. Based in Rome, she is also the founder and artistic director of the Classiche Forme in her native region of Puglia, Italy.

Bass Performance Hall

Semifinal and Final Rounds
June 2–12, 2021

Bass Performance Hall is the crown jewel of a city which boasts the nation’s third largest cultural district. It is also an important symbol of one of the most successful downtown revitalization efforts in the country.

Built entirely with private funds, Bass Performance Hall is permanent home to the Fort Worth Symphony OrchestraTexas Ballet TheaterFort Worth Opera, and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and Cliburn Concerts. Each resident company operates independently from Performing Arts Fort Worth and manages its own programming schedule at Bass Hall.

Performing Arts Fort Worth, the non-profit organization that oversees management of the Hall, also presents national Broadway touring product under the Broadway at the Bass banner, as well as programming that includes Broadway SpecialsPopular Entertainment and McDavid Studio Concert Series.

The 2,042-seat multipurpose Hall, designed by David M. Schwarz/Architectural Services, Inc. with acoustics by Jaffee, Holden Acoustics, Inc., is characteristic of the classic European opera house form. An 80-foot diameter Great Dome, artfully painted by Fort Worth artists Scott and Stuart Gentling, tops the Founders Concert Theater. Two 48-foot tall angels, sculpted from Texas limestone by Marton Varo, grace the Grand Facade. The angels have now become preeminent cultural icons in the North Texas area. The Hall is renowned for its superb acoustics, exceptional sight lines and ambience on level with the great halls of the world.

Bass Performance Hall is located on a full city block encompassed by Commerce, Calhoun, 4th and 5th Streets in the historic Sundance Square district of downtown Fort Worth.

Boao Zhang

Boao Zhang

China I Age 15

Boao Zhang is a multiple competition prize winner in his native China, and also took home second at the Frederic Chopin Competition for Young Pianists in Poland. He made his recital debut a year ago at the Russian Cultural Center in Beijing and followed that appearance with a concert at the Inner Mongolia University of Science and Technology last fall. Having studied with Manchun Chen at the middle school of the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, for three years, Boao counts classical music as his “most important hobby,” noting that he “listens to music every day, without exception.” He was fascinated by ancient cultures at an early age, visits exhibitions of Western art as often as he can, and likes to read, swim, and play table tennis.

“When I was a young child, I thought music was interesting—as if I was listening to a person tell a story about his experience. So I enjoy classical music each night before bed, just as every child likes to listen to bedtime stories.”



Preliminary Round
BACH Prelude and Fugue in C Major, BWV 870
CHOPIN Etude in A Minor, op. 10, no. 2
CHOPIN Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat Major, op. 61

Quarterfinal Round

BACH Toccata in E Minor, BWV 914

HAYDN Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI:52 (I)

CHOPIN Nocturne in C-sharp Minor, op, 27, no. 1

PROKOFIEV Sonata No. 3 in A Minor, op. 28


Semifinal Round

SHCHEDRIN Basso Ostinato from Two Polyphonic Pieces

DEBUSSY Danseuses de Delphes from Preludes, Book I

DEBUSSY Les collines d’Anacapri from Preludes, Book I

CHOPIN Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, op. 58


Final Round

CHOPIN Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, op. 21

Benjamin T. Rossen

Benjamin T. Rossen

United States I Age 16

New Yorker Benjamin T. Rossen has won prizes in a number of U.S. competitions, including first-place finishes in contests held by Steinway & Sons, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Music Teachers National Association, and the National YoungArts Foundation. A student of Jeffrey Cohen at the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division for five years, he made his recital debut at the school at age 9, and his concerto debut the following year with the New York Concerti Sinfonietta at Carnegie Hall. A junior at William A. Shine Great Neck South High School, Benjamin is founder and president of the Music Creators Society, which connects composers with artists to produce interdisciplinary works; plays piano in the school jazz band and French horn in operas and musicals; and is music editor for the school’s literary magazine.

“In society, music can bring awareness to many different facets of culture, from literature and art to political ideas and mathematical concepts. This medium allows for different communities to discover and acknowledge society’s achievements and challenges.”

Competitor Profile


Preliminary Round
STRAVINSKY Serenade in A
BACH Prelude and Fugue in E Major, BWV 878
LISZT Eroica from Transcendental Etudes

Quarterfinal Round
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 7 in D Major, op. 10, no. 3 (I)
SCHUBERT Impromptu in B-flat Major, op. posth. 142, D. 935, no. 3
SCRIABIN Deux Poèmes, op. 32
CHOPIN Polonaise in F-sharp Minor, op. 44

Semifinal Round

DEBUSSY Pour les octaves from Etudes, Book I

DEBUSSY Bruyères from Preludes, Book II

MARTIN Praeludium and Fuga I in C Major

BRAHMS Sonata No. 1 in C Major, op. 1


Final Round

BARTÓK Concerto No. 1, Sz. 83

Buddy Bray

Buddy Bray

Shields-Collins “Buddy” Bray has been artistic consultant for the Cliburn since 2003. For the last 20 years he has shown his longstanding commitment to new music, hosting concerts spotlighting living American composers such as William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Ricky Ian Gordon, Jennifer Higdon, Jake Heggie, Kevin Puts, Ned Rorem, and Ben Moore. With music educator John Feierabend, Buddy created the Cliburn in the Classroom curriculum for second-, third-, and fourth-graders; now, after almost two decades of serving as writer, narrator, host, and sometimes-pianist at these uniquely interactive programs, he continues to be heavily involved in an advisory role.

A skilled commentator and interviewer, Buddy hosted the large-scale webcast of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in June 2022. During the pandemic he also served as host and artistic consultant for the Cliburn’s digital series, Cliburn Masterpiece and Cliburn Kids.

Buddy has been principal keyboardist of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra since 1986, and has hosted the orchestra’s pre-concert discussion series Symphonic Insights since 1993. He has performed many times as soloist with orchestra, most recently in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, a work with which he has had a long association. He has also appeared as soloist with the Dallas and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestras, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra, and in Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s “The Passion of the Tango” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

Buddy was born in Mississippi and grew up in northeastern Louisiana. He studied there with Donald Cornell, and later with Steven De Groote at Arizona State University and TCU.


Mark Steinberg, violin
Serena Canin, violin
Misha Amory, viola
Nina Lee, cello

Since its inception in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. “Passionate, uninhibited and spellbinding,” raves the London Independent; the New York Times extols its “luxuriously warm sound [and] yearning lyricism”; the Philadelphia Inquirer praises its “seemingly infallible instincts for finding the center of gravity in every phrase and musical gesture”; and the Times (London) opines, “the Brentanos are a magnificent string quartet…This was wonderful, selfless music-making.”

As of July 2014, the Brentano Quartet succeeded the Tokyo Quartet as Artists in Residence at Yale University, departing from their 14-year residency at Princeton University. The quartet also currently served as the collaborative ensemble for the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and will again in 2017. In recent seasons, the Quartet has traveled widely, appearing all over the United States and Canada, and in Europe, Japan, and Australia. It has performed in the world’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; the Konzerthaus in Vienna; Suntory Hall in Tokyo; and the Sydney Opera House. The Quartet has participated in summer festivals such as Aspen, the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, the Edinburgh Festival, the Kuhmo Festival in Finland, the Taos School of Music, and the Caramoor Festival.

In addition to performing the entire two-century range of the standard quartet repertoire, the Brentano Quartet has a strong interest in both very old and very new music. It has performed many musical works pre-dating the string quartet as a medium, among them Madrigals of Gesualdo, Fantasias of Purcell, and secular vocal works of Josquin. Also, the quartet has worked closely with some of the most important composers of our time, among them Elliot Carter, Charles Wuorinen, Chou Wen-chung, Steven Mackey, Bruce Adolphe, and György Kurtág. The Quartet has commissioned works from Wuorinen, Adolphe, Mackey, David Horne, and Gabriela Frank.

Among the Quartet’s latest collaborations with contemporary composers is a new work by Steven Mackey, “One Red Rose,” which was commissioned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Other new commissions include a piano quintet by Vijay Iyer, a work by Eric Moe (with Christine Brandes, soprano), and a new viola quintet by Felipe Lara (performed with violist Hsin-Yun Huang).

Bruce Pfeffer

Bruce Pfeffer, 65
Cell biologist
Amherst, New York
United States

Bruce Pfeffer began piano lessons at age 7, and continued to study throughout his schooling at Pomona College in Claremont, California (bachelor’s in biochemistry). He went on to earn a Ph.D. in cell biology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The research scientist studies the field of ophthalmology, currently working at SUNY Buffalo and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs-Western New York Research Service. As an amateur pianist, Dr. Pfeffer brings his scientific process to music: “My commitment is such that, as much as I have achieved ‘high-flow states’ in practicing…I feel obliged to find opportunities to perform these masterpieces.” He looks forward to the challenge and excitement live performance brings, and hopes to express his gratitude through his participation here, “to former teachers whose insights took decades to dawn on me.”


Preliminary Round
BACH   Prelude and Fugue in D Major, WTC II, BWV 874
SCRIABIN   Etude in C-sharp Minor, op. 42, no. 5 (“Affannato”)

Quarterfinal Round
BRAHMS   Rhapsody in E-flat Major, op. 119, no. 4
CHOPIN   Etude in G-sharp Minor, op. 25, no. 6
SCHOENBERG   Klavierstück, op. 33b
DEBUSSY   L’Isle joyeuse

Semifinal Round
BEETHOVEN   Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, op. 106 (“Hammerklavier”): II. Scherzo: Assai vivace; III. Adagio sostenuto; IV. Introduzione: Largo – Fuga: Allegro risoluto

Final Round
BACH   Keyboard Concerto in D Minor, BWV 1052: III. Allegro

Brad Dunn

Brad Dunn, 43
General manager/sommelier
Bloomington, Indiana
United States

Brad Dunn began studying piano at age 5, and went on to become a pupil of both William Ransom at Emory University and Leonard Hokanson at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. While at Emory, he received bachelor’s degrees in biology and in music, and a master’s degree in piano performance and electronic music. Mr. Dunn’s diverse interests span wine—he holds certifications from the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Society of Wine Educators—to scientific research, and when he isn’t working 60-hour-weeks as general manager and beverage director at The Uptown Cafe in Bloomington, Indiana, he can be found on the golf course or cooking in his kitchen. He looks to the Amateur Competition as an opportunity to “get his chops back,” and is excited about the prospect of performing again.


Preliminary Round
DEBUSSY   La plus que lent
RACHMANINOV   Étude-Tableau in C Minor, op. 39, no. 1

Quarterfinal Round
BACH   Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major, BWV 825

Semifinal Round
RAVEL   Miroirs

Final Round
BEETHOVEN   Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, op. 19: III. Rondo (molto allegro)

Brianna Donaldson

Brianna Donaldson, 35
Nonprofit director
Santa Cruz, California
United States

Brianna Donaldson began private piano lessons in 1988, and by the time she finished high school, her dream was to pursue a career as a piano teacher and performer. An injury during college, however, sidelined that goal, so Dr. Donaldson instead forged a career in cognitive psychology. She received her doctorate from Indiana University in 2008. When her husband’s job necessitated a move to Austin, she began studying under Dr. Betty Mallard at the University of Texas. Under Mallard’s tutelage, she realized: “Despite having a full and wonderful life as a working professional, wife, and mother of two young sons, it is the piano that completes me.” To that end, she says she looks forward to meeting other kindred spirits during the Amateur Competition. An avid reader and outdoorswoman, Dr. Donaldson enjoys spending time with her family and giving community concerts.


Preliminary Round
MEDTNER   “Phrygian Mode” from Fairy Tales, op. 42
MEDTNER   Two Fairy Tales, op. 20

Quarterfinal Round
MOZART   Sonata No. 15 in F Major, K. 533/494: III. Rondo: Allegretto
CHOPIN   Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, op. 52

Semifinal Round
BRAHMS   Intermezzo in A Minor, op. 118, no. 1
BRAHMS   Intermezzo in A Major, op. 118, no. 2
BRAHMS   Intermezzo in E-flat Minor, op. 118, no. 6
BARTÓK   Eight Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, op. 20

Final Round
MOZART   Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467: I. Allegro maestoso