a man in a tuxedo stands in front of a grand piano
Dmytro Vynogradov is one of 20 pianists selected to compete in the semifinal round of the Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition. (Ralph Lauer | The Cliburn)

As the start of the Eighth Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition drew near, pianist Dmytro Vynogradov didn’t know whether he would be able to fly in.

The Ukrainian had to seek permission to leave his home in Kyiv and perform.

“I’m here just by luck,” he said the day before his preliminary round performance.

Though he has no formal military training, Vynogradov said he joined the Territorial Defense Forces when Russian troops continued their invasion of Ukraine.

“Ukraine actually is a peaceful country and never, ever wanted to do anything like that, but must stop this aggression,” he said. “Each one (of us is) doing what you can do.”

After an attack Oct. 10 on Kyiv, he is not sure if his piano back home is still intact, but, for now, he is focused on the competition ahead of him.

If you go

Semifinal performances:
            Concert 1 – starts at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 15
            Concert 2 – starts at 7 p.m. Oct. 15
            Concert 3 – starts at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 16
            Concert 4 – starts at 7 p.m. Oct. 16

Location: Van Cliburn Recital Hall
330 E. 4th St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102

Tickets: Starting at $25

As of Oct. 14, the pianist is one of 20 musicians advancing to the competition’s semi-final round.

While the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is meant as a career launchpad for pianists between the ages of 18-30, the amateur competition is for pianists 35 and older who don’t perform or teach piano as their primary source of income. 

The competition started with 39 pianists representing 19 different countries who work in a variety of fields ranging from public transportation to information security.

In the semifinal round the remaining musicians will perform a solo recital that cannot exceed 28 minutes using a repertoire of their choosing.

From there, only six pianists will advance to the final round, where they will perform one movement of a concerto alongside conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra at Bass Performance Hall.

When Vynogradov performs, he wants to show a different side of Ukraine.

“Everybody knows Ukraine, but they know Ukraine from war only,” he said. “But there are many Ukrainian people, very intelligent people, and they can do many things.”

Not only is he playing on behalf of his fellow countrymen, he is also performing in honor of his mother. Her love of the piano is a large part of why Vynogradov plays to this day.

She started him in piano lessons at age four. Much to her chagrin, he continued to play for 22 years before deciding to pursue a career in business.

Her own passion for the instrument was cemented when, as a child, she was able to squeeze into a spot on the balcony at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 to watch Van Cliburn’s groundbreaking win.

She contracted COVID-19 and died during the pandemic, but he hopes that advancing in the Cliburn amateur competition will be a fitting tribute to her memory. 

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at marcheta.fornoff@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Marcheta FornoffArts & Culture Editor

For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...