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Rodzinski to Retire as Cliburn Foundation President


by Stephen Becker 14 Jul 2009

The Van Cliburn Foundation has announced that President Richard Rodzinski will retire so that he may pursue a soon-to-be announced opportunity. Rodzinski’s contract was scheduled to run through Feb. 2010. Rodzinski became president of the Cliburn Foundation in 1986, and in his 23 years at the helm, he led six competitions. In addition, he oversaw […]

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richardThe Van Cliburn Foundation has announced that President Richard Rodzinski will retire so that he may pursue a soon-to-be announced opportunity.

Rodzinski’s contract was scheduled to run through Feb. 2010.

Rodzinski became president of the Cliburn Foundation in 1986, and in his 23 years at the helm, he led six competitions. In addition, he oversaw the Cliburn’s move to international auditions as well as its expanded Web presence.

Before this year’s competition, he visited with Jerome during the Art&Seek segment on Think TV. You can watch it here.

Keep reading for the official news release:

FORT WORTH — Richard Rodzinski, president of the Van Cliburn Foundation, today announced his retirement in preparation for a new opportunity he hopes to announce shortly.

Mr. Rodzinski will not extend his current contract, which expires on February 1, 2010–a date that conforms with the Foundation’s long-range strategic plan covering leadership succession, and coincides with the completion of the International Competition cycle, including the attendant post-competition functions. Because of the soon-to-be-announced position, the Cliburn has agreed to Mr. Rodzinski assuming his new role prior to 2010. Upon his departure, Mr. Rodzinski has been named President Emeritus.

“I wish to express my gratitude to the Cliburn Foundation board for allowing me the opportunity to set and maintain the highest standards of excellence for the competition, which has achieved the wide recognition of being the world’s preeminent piano competition,” said Mr. Rodzinski. “I deeply appreciate the trust placed in me over the past twenty-three years to develop a number of new initiatives connected with the competition in the areas of repertoire, the American Composers Invitational, voting procedures, and the screening of applicants, as well as in other areas, including media productions, sponsorship, and creating a competition for amateurs. This has been an extremely fruitful and wonderful period of my professional life.”

Since 1986, when Mr. Rodzinski was hired as president of the Cliburn, he has directed six competitions and served as executive producer of award-winning documentary films aired on PBS and syndicated internationally. In addition, Mr. Rodzinski has instituted numerous advances for the competition, including live auditions around the world, streaming first audio and then video of the competition, and producing a competition webcast to great acclaim. He has also initiated changes in competition voting procedures that have been adopted by several other competitions; changes in the format of competition finals; many advances in the use of technology for the website and for showcasing the competition and the music of the artists; three competitions for showcasing new works by American composers; new concepts for sponsorships; and Musical Awakenings, an education program for elementary school students.
In 1999, he started the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, an event he has presented five times. In addition, Mr. Rodzinski produced two decades of the Cliburn Concerts series, bringing musicians of the highest caliber to the Southwest. He also initiated the Cliburn at the Modern series, which showcases works of living American composers.

“Richard Rodzinski has made an indelible mark on the Van Cliburn Foundation with many extraordinary accomplishments throughout his tenure, effecting change in the world of piano competitions and expanding opportunities for all audiences to know the wonder of classical music,” said Alann Sampson, chairman of the Van Cliburn Foundation board of directors. “Richard’s record at the Cliburn will long outlive this generation. The legacy he leaves will be a standard to inspire those who follow him and will be remembered with abiding gratitude.”

Pianist Van Cliburn remarked: “Richard Rodzinski is one of my great friends of long standing. His contribution to the Van Cliburn Foundation has been invaluable and his influence has been felt not only in Fort Worth but throughout the artistic world. All of his many admirers and those devoted to classical music will continue to seek his wise counsel and search his deep reservoir of knowledge.”

Mrs. Sampson said a search committee will be formed and immediately begin an extensive search for the next president of the Foundation. “We are confident we will find a candidate who can both lead the Foundation in its quest for excellence and support Fort Worth’s exciting performing arts community,” she said.

Since 1962, the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition has been the most visible expression of the Van Cliburn Foundation’s commitment to the highest standards of musical achievement. Through the competition, the Foundation disseminates classical music worldwide; launches and nurtures young artists’ careers and the ensuing international concert tours of its medalists; award-winning television documentaries, CDs, DVDs, and Internet downloads, and internationally syndicated radio series dedicated to the competition and its most memorable performances. In addition, by making the competition available in its entirety via webcast on the Internet, the Foundation has extended its outreach to more than 200,000 listeners in 156 countries.

For audiences in North Texas, the Van Cliburn Foundation promotes great music and world-class artists through the annual Cliburn Concerts series, ongoing educational programs, and the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, recently established as a quadrennial forum for non-professional musicians. This event marks another step forward in the Foundation’s mission to introduce new audiences to the inspiration of classical music, especially as experienced through live performance.

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  • Rawlins Gilliland

    Really good interview on THINK. Rodzinski’s gig this year in FW was, by all reports, a lot of twirling plates on a lot of sticks tour de force.

  • You know what would be SUPER cool? If Richard were to have the GD job at the Dallas Opera…Aren’t they still searching, in theory? He DID used to work at the Metropolitan Opera…That would be an amazing surprise but I’m sure it’s just my pipe dream…I hope his new opportunity is at least in D/FW (or cyberspace based in D/FW), because we are lucky to have him active in our arts community in any capacity.