The Cliburn

2013 Competition Commissioned Work

The Cliburn commissioned Christopher Theofanidis to compose a new work that was performed by all semifinalists in the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. A native of Dallas, Texas, Mr. Theofanidis is one of the most widely performed American composers writing today. His work, Rainbow Body, has been programmed by over 120 orchestras internationally. Notable to Cliburn audiences, he was commissioned in 1998 to write the inaugural fanfare for Fort Worth’s Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, the Competition’s venue.

The Washington Post wrote, “What impresses me about Theofanidis…is his ability to blend several musical languages once thought to be mutually exclusive. There are elements of Asian music, minimalism, high chromaticism, and a sort of brightly colored impressionism. The results are enormously attractive.”

Since its inception in 1962, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition has required competitors to perform a newly-composed work. The Cliburn has made a significant contribution to the standard piano repertoire in its 50-year history, commissioning 10 pieces specifically for competitions and hosting three American Composers Invitationals (2001, 2005, and 2009).


Celebrated American composer Christopher Theofanidis writes regularly for a variety of musical genres, from orchestral and chamber music to opera and ballet. His work, Rainbow Body, which is loosely based on a melodic fragment of Hildegard of Bingen, has been programmed by over 120 orchestras internationally. Mr. Theofanidis’ other works have been performed by such groups as the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Moscow Soloists. Mr. Theofanidis has a long-standing relationship with the Atlanta Symphony and Maestro Robert Spano, and his Symphony #1 has just been released by that orchestra on compact disc.

Mr. Theofanidis has written widely for the stage, from a work for the American Ballet Theatre to multiple dramatic pieces, including The Refuge for the Houston Grand Opera and Heart of a Soldier for Thomas Hampson and the San Francisco Opera. His large-scale piece, The Here and Now, for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, based on poetry of Rumi, was nominated for a Grammy® Award in 2008.

Mr. Theofanidis is currently on the faculty of Yale University and has taught at the Peabody Conservatory and The Juilliard School. He is also a fellow of the U.S.-Japan’s Leadership Program. Mr. Theofanidis’ upcoming works include the opera, Siddhartha, for the Houston Grand Opera, a new work for the Miró String Quartet for Chamber Music Monterey Bay in collaboration with the multi-media artist Bill Viola, and an evening-length oratorio called Creation/Creator for the Atlanta Symphony and Chorus.

Mr. Theofanidis is a native Texan, born in Dallas in 1967. He spent his formative years in Houston and has worked with many of the major arts organizations in the state, including the Houston, Dallas, El Paso, and Fort Worth Symphonies, the Houston Grand Opera, Da Camera in Houston, and many other institutions. He also taught briefly at the University of Houston.

For more information, visit


Our Mission

It is the mission of the Cliburn to advance classical piano music throughout the world. Its international competitions, education programs, and concert series embody an enduring commitment to artistic excellence and the discovery of young artists.



The Cliburn is a not-for-profit organization governed by a board of directors, elected for a four year term. It is sustained by the generous support from individuals, foundations, corporations, the tireless efforts of volunteers, and embraced by the community of Fort Worth. The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is a proud member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions.


201 Main Street, Suite 100
Fort Worth, TX 76102


Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Message


If you would like to receive the latest news about the Cliburn's upcoming concerts, events, and competitions, please take a moment to sign up for our email newsletter.