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Cliburn amateur piano winners include doctors and a retired database programmer

May 30, 2011 | 12:30 pm

Piano Last week, close to 70 amateur pianists convened in Forth Worth, Texas, to participate in the sixth annual International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. The competition was organized by the Van Cliburn Foundation, the same group behind the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the top piano prize for professionals.

On Sunday, the winners of the amateur edition were announced. The top winners included two physicians, a retired database programmer, a homemaker, a retired railroad manager and a hospital administrator. The top prizes were selected by a 10-member jury consisting of musicians, academics and others.

The first-place prize went to Dr. Christopher Shih, a gastroenterologist from Ellicott City, Md., who also received this year's audience award as well as the award for best performance of a work from the Romantic era.

The second-place prize went to Clark Griffith, a retired database programmer from Fort Worth, who also received the awards for creative programming and best performance of a work from the Baroque era. Third place went to  Barry Coutinho, a family physician from Pittsburgh, who also took home the prize for best performance of a work from the post-Romantic era. 

Rounding out the roster of honorees were two "jury discretionary awards" -- Leslie Myrick, a retired hospital administrator from Toronto, and David Hibbard, a retired railroad manager from Fort Worth.

A separate jury consisting of five members of the press handed out an award to Jane Gibson King, a homemaker from Provo, Utah. This year's press jury included Times music critic Mark Swed.

Contestants for the amateur contest have to be at least 35 years old and cannot earn their primary income from piano performance or instruction. Among this year's competitors were two Los Angeles area pianists -- Nazeli Atayan Rohman-Flynn, a homemaker from Pasadena, and Yvonne Tsai, a pediatrician from Downey.

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-- David Ng

Photo credit (top): Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Photo credit (bottom): Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times


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