Duxbury, Massachusetts USA
My first visit to the Cliburn was in 1973 when I was in Fort Worth
for a few months. I was stationed at Carswell Air Force Base (now
operated by the US Navy). There was a timely chance to attend most
of the Cliburn Preliminaries then, and the Cliburn has been a
perfect fit for my musical interests ever since. After retiring I
was next able to attend the Cliburn in 1993 and have been to nearly
all of the competitions since.
Volunteering was natural since I had become friends with many
staff and volunteers who had already been long serving. They remain
music lovers who come back year after year, and those friendships
A lot will happen during a competition, needing attention, which
would not be apparent to someone in the audience. My volunteer work
usually involves transportation but sometimes other office support
as well. I make a point of being available and nearby. Any
surprises are smoothed out in a productive way with other music
lovers, so it's satisfying to help that way.
Meeting and working with other people who also keep music central
in their lives is very important. They offer the new and different
"takes" on a composer, composition, or pianist to think about, and
new music to explore. The four-year competition cycle is about
right for it to evolve and begin again, and there is always more
for a music lover to learn.
Fort Worth, Texas USA
I started volunteering with the Cliburn in 1977 as a host family.
I had attended just one competition in 1973, and I was hooked on
the idea of working for the organization where I could become a
part of encouraging young pianists to pursue their dreams.
After that competition I signed up to help in the office. I was
asked to take over the job of organizing the VIP committee for the
next competition. It proved to be a project that required many
hours before and during the competition, but I loved it. The
following competitions the Junior League took over, as the project
required so many hours.
After that I was a host family several times, worked in the
office, ushered at events, did special research jobs for the
Executive Director - oriented projects or data work of some kind. I
also helped assimilating packets for the jurors at the competition
trials through several competitions. At some point I began to be a
member of the housing committee and did this for four
My greatest joy was working in the office with the office manager.
I became familiar enough in time with the various needs that I
actually subbed for her while she was on vacation one year and
other times when she was out of the office a day or two at a time.
I enjoyed this position because of the wonderful staff and the
appreciation they showed to me. It was a privilege to serve!
Fort Worth, Texas USA
I first became involved with the Cliburn in 1985 when I ushered
for the Competition at Landreth Hall at TCU. At that time, the
ushers were selected from members of the American Association of
University Women (AAUW) in Fort Worth. I worked closely with the
chairman, Shirley Baird, became assistant chairman for the 1993 and
1997 Competitions, and became chairman when she retired in 1997. I
was an usher co-chairman at the 2001 Competition which was the
first to be held at Bass Performance Hall. I also ushered at the
2005 and 2009 Competitions with the Bass Hall staff. I have been
involved with the last 7 competitions.
The volunteer jobs I have held over the years include not only the
ushering at the competitions, but also as chairman of the ushers
for the auditions preceding the 2001, 2005, and 2009 Competitions.
In 2005 and 2009, I also held the job of working with the printer
and delivering the daily programs to Bass Hall.
My main job, and certainly the most successful, has been the
chairman of the ushers for the International Piano Competition for
Outstanding Amateurs held in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007, and 2011
at Landreth Hall - TCU. I have the position of recruiting,
training, scheduling, and supervising 60-65 ushers for the
week-long event held in May.
My most joy from volunteering at the Cliburn comes from working
with first-class, intelligent, and dependable people both at the
Cliburn office and my fellow ushers. Each usher is trained to be
helpful, considerate, and gracious.
My favorite memory as a volunteer for the Cliburn occurred at the
auditions in 1997 at TCU. I was honored to meet and become friends
with the eventual gold medal winner of the 1997 International
Competition - Jon Nakamatsu and his teacher Marina Derryberry
(sp?). Jon and I have stayed in touch over the years, and I attend
concerts he gives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. He has been a
judge for the Amateur Competition, and it is always my pleasure to
know I have a special relationship with him.
Hurst, Texas USA
I am Richard Goodspeed, known as "Dick" around the Cliburn
offices. I wish I knew when it was that I decided that the printed
programs of the Cliburn Concerts needed some rather severe editing.
It was probably 20 or more years ago. I called the Cliburn and told
them I was a retired editor, and wanted to give their programs some
much-needed editing. When I called the office said they didn't have
a volunteer position for editing, and asked if I'd be interested in
driving. That sounded like fun, so I agreed to do it--and enjoyed
it very much. I drove Cecilia Bartoli, Olga Kern, James Galway and
his wife, and many other great performers. Some treated me like a
friend, others treated me like a servant. I found that difference
to be interesting, not at all annoying.
There came a point in my driving career when the error-ridden
printed programs really got under my skin. Finally, I marked up a
program in red, went to the Cliburn offices, and asked to see
Richard Rodzinski. He was at his desk, and gave me a very warm
welcome. It seems that he had been moaning over the quality of the
writing in the program he was holding in his hand at that very
moment--the same program that I had in my hand. I immediately
became the volunteer editor, and have been editing programs and
other things for the Cliburn ever since.
I have made many friends at the Cliburn office--even played
racquetball a couple times with one of them! I value those
friendships, and look forward to meeting more of the wonderful
staff members of the Cliburn.
I first volunteered at the 2001 Competition, working backstage
with friend and then Trinity Valley School coworker Louise Canafax,
running various errands related to competitor hospitality. I recall
seeing the words "apple juice" and "orange juice" in 10 different
languages. Perhaps my proudest moment of the Competition was giving
Olga Kern a glass of water before her semifinal recital, a
memorable moment, if a bit humble. I volunteered again at the 2002
Amateur Competition, where I worked backstage and also turned pages
for a competitor playing several Rachmaninoff Preludes -- the sheet
music was nearly black with notes! Thrilling and terrifying both! I
volunteered the next year at the 2005 Competition, having the
pleasure of driving James Conlon to and fro a few times. He is a
fascinating and energetic man. Perhaps the highlight of my
volunteer work at the Cliburn was turning pages for Maria Mazo's
(2005) semifinal chamber performance of the Schumann Quintet. I had
first become familiar with the piece during the 2001 Competition,
so maybe it was fitting that four years later I'd see it performed
inches away onstage at Bass Hall. I have since traveled the world
and done some thrilling things, but nothing will ever top that
I'd also like to say how highly I thought of everyone on the
Cliburn staff, from the very top on down. It was a pleasure to work
with the whole Foundation. I will be a lifelong fan.
Fort Worth, Texas USA
In 2009 I received a request to volunteer for the Van Cliburn
Competition. What a wonderful opportunity to meet these wonderfully
From the beginning of the competitions, I attended the piano
playing of the contestants at TCU and some of the concerts.
Thereafter, could not be that involved due to my full time
In 2005, I enjoyed listening to the concerts while recuperating
from an open heart surgery. What a treat.
Therefore, I was happy to volunteer in 2009 as a 'meet and
greeter' for the artists, showing them to the stage where they
could choose the Steinway of their choice. Knowing German, French,
and Dutch may have made some difference, but by now I would be more
of a help knowing the Asian languages. Your magazine with the
Joseph Haydn Sonata, I still treasure.
North Richland Hills, Texas USA
Prior to the 1985 competition the VCF had a series of 6 lectures
at TCU, the Kimbell and other facilities to familiarize the
community with the event. Lynn and I attended and were hooked. We
started our volunteering then in a small way and since have pretty
well done it all except housing a contestant and tuning a
As a team we did the Information booth in Ed Landreth in 1989 and
1993. Lynn did the Boutique in 1985, while I was a gofer for
Scottie Bartel in 1985 and 1989. In 1997 we coordinated operations
at Tarrant County Convention Center and did it again in 2001 for
the first competition held at Bass Hall. In 2005 we chaired the
Information Booth. I have done almost every task, big and small,
over the years: making Speaker Bureau presentations to the public,
coordinating all aspects of the education programs in the schools,
transporting guest artists, jurors, media, presenters and was a
major helper with the first Amateur Competition.
The memories are great. Picking up Olga (Kern) for departure to
Manhattan when she left with stops at Neiman Marcus for a wardrobe
and at T-Mobile for of all things, a cell phone. I picked up the
19-year-old Lang Lang at DFW and brought him by Bass Hall to show
him how close it was to the Worthington Hotel. He was playing a
Cliburn Concert the next night and was exhausted after a 26-hour
trip from China. He asked if he could go inside, so in we went. The
hall was dark. Just he and I, but both 9' Steinways were on stage.
He picked one and standing up started to play like I have never
heard. I found some light and a chair, and for almost 1½ hours was
an audience for one of the musical phenomenons of our time.
I know it is too long for your purposes, but this was my most
memorable (non-music) event. Morton Gould, an icon of American
music, was here in 1993 as composer of the competition music. I was
helping out at Ed Landreth, and Mort was doing a media interview.
It went on so long that the bus with the jurors had to leave to
return to the hotel so people could dress for dinner with Van
Cliburn. I waited patiently but finally had to look in and assure
myself that he was still in the room and OK. Turns out the
interviewer was a very young, very attractive, female journalist,
and Mort was being exceedingly generous with his time. In any case
I speeded up his departure. By the time he changed at the hotel,
the bus had gone off to Van's without him. So I waited. We were
quite late getting there and the chairman of the board was somewhat
anxious as she greeted us on our arrival.
I had a very full, very busy, very tiring (and sweaty) day and was
anxious to get home and get a shower. Not so fast! Alann (Sampson)
grabbed me before I could get away and insisted I join the party -
an offer I wanted to refuse, but she was insistent. I joined the
group for drinks, dinner and conversation, but with great
hesitance. I was not a musician, I was not properly dressed, I was
less than presentable and had to assure I didn't get too close to
anyone. I managed, and thank goodness for John Pfiffer, the RCA
record executive, who produced many of Van's records. I was
involved in electronics in my military career, and he and I found
we had that in common. I think he was glad to have me there also.
Spending an evening with that distinguished group was the
experience of a lifetime, even if I left the party early!
Fort Worth, Texas USA
Being new to the community of Fort Worth 15 years ago, I wanted to
volunteer for an arts organization in order to serve the community
and to make friends who shared a similar interest. The Cliburn was
a perfect place to start as this was a year for the competition.
There is no better way to become acquainted than by doing a task
such as stuffing envelopes.
Soon I was more involved in various aspects of the competition and
Cliburn Concerts. Perhaps you remember the Mozart Café, when the
series was still held in Ed Landreth Hall? I would help Fran
Blanton sell tickets for the light fare at the concert, both prior
to and during intermission. The best times for me, however, were
those involved helping backstage at the Cliburn Concert series. It
was June Furman who asked me to help backstage to do whatever the
guest artist needed. Not everyone got to help Olga Kern with her
red dress before a recital or take Barbara Bonney cookies when
performing for us.
The highlights of these times are numerous. Among them was
spending the day with Alfred Brendel after his concert the previous
night. We had a trip to the Kimbell and a private tour by the
museum director, lunch, and then to the airport. I also had the
pleasure of driving Claire Bloom, as well as two members of the
Guarneri String Quartet when they came to perform.
This past Competition, I had the opportunity to help Louise
Canafax several times as another backstage mother. It was thrilling
to watch these young pianists as well as the interaction between
them and Maestro Conlon before and after their performances.
The Cliburn is a wonderful place to volunteer, not only for the
opportunities afforded, but because the people at the Cliburn are
so appreciative by the little things one does. There are nice
parties for the volunteers, handwritten notes of thanks, and
acknowledgment in the programs that keep us coming back.
Fort Worth, Texas USA
I volunteered in 2009 along with June Leondar to be music
coordinators getting music together for the judges. I've been past
president of Fort Worth Piano Teachers Forum. I loved interacting
with all of the people that are involved. It takes a "village" to
make this work, and it was amazing to be able to observe as well as
participate in helping to make this work. As a volunteer, my
favorite memory was being able to listen to all of the
performances, as it was part of our jobs to make sure the music
became available for judges to use in their boxes that they were
sitting in before the next group of contestants were to
I also want to mention a memory that I have as a young child. In
1962, I was 6 years of age when my father took a piano student of
my mom's and me to hear the first Cliburn Competition. We were
there one day and we happened to hear Ralph Votapek play. We all
decided that he was the best of the ones we heard that day.
Needless to say, he was the best...period. I will never forget that
first experience; and I tried over the years to attend more of the
events as time permitted. I got to listen to several of the
competitions while attending TCU in the 70's and early 80's. It was
great to be able to sit in the balcony as students and then chat
with Van Cliburn afterwards in the Student Cafe where he talked
about the Competition. This revealed to us the true glimpse of what
Van really was -- a truly caring and genuine person.
Fort Worth, Texas USA
Always being partial to piano, volunteering at the Cliburn has had
a special meaning for me. It started when the Competition was still
held at Ed Landreth Hall on the TCU Campus sometime in the 1980s. I
started on the Information Desk and then was head of the Lunchroom
Crew who helped our caterer. When we moved to Bass Hall, that kind
of thing wasn't necessary so I was asked to head up the volunteers
for the Welcome Suite. My friends were thrilled to help because
they were so "up close and personal" for that short time as the
competitors came for their orientation.
Through the years I've stuffed envelopes, substituted at the
office reception desk, driven many artists to or from the airport
(Kissen, Schiff, Kuloshov, Nobuyuki, and Bolcom stand out. I even
took Bolcom and his wife, Joan, to get haircuts while in Fort
Worth. They took me out for coffee afterward!) My husband and I
were honored to host two competitors. I keep saying "yes" because I
feel welcomed as part of a team. Even though our financial
donations can't be large, I've been made to feel I've made an