Seventeen-year-old Kazakh pianist Alim Beisembayev won $10,000 and first place at the first Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition on June 28 at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, United States.
Arsenii Mun, 16, from Russia and Youlan Ji, 16, from China, won $5,000 for second and $2,500 for third respectively.
In the final, Beisembayev performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, op. 23. An American publication reported that the performance was full of gentle grace and fiery passion that wowed the international jury of four women and two men.
Nobody in Beisembayev’s family has been connected to the world of classical music and the father of the talented pianist works as an engineer. Talking to the press, the contestant said that when he was five years old, his father took him to a toy store where he found a little piano.
“I couldn’t stop playing a toy piano. So, I’ve been playing the piano ever since,” said Beisembayev.
His talent surprised his parents. However, they continued supporting their son and the toy piano was quickly replaced by a real instrument. Beisembayev has attended music schools in Kazakhstan, Russia and Great Britain, where he is currently living, and received scholarships from all of them.
Beisembayev’s parents admit they often doubted whether it was the right decision to introduce their only child to music, as they have no idea about this world. Nevertheless, Beisembayev’s shining eyes and passion to play convinced them that this is the path he had to follow.
“Despite the 11-hour time difference, my parents watched the whole show live from Cowtown,” said Beisembayev.
He also mentioned that the contest week was extremely stressful. A lot of work went into this and the performing part was really nerve-wracking.
Since 2010, Beisembayev has been a student of the British Purcell School for young musicians in London. He visits his parents three times per year and the rest of his time he devotes to music.
Kazakh musician Nurgul Tuleuova in an interview with Tengrinews.kz said that she has been following Beisembayev’s career from his early childhood. She said that the young musician has always shown persistence and perseverance in order to improve the art of his performance. According to Tuleuova, at the age of 10, Beisembayev won an international television competition for young musicians called The Nutcracker.
“From a professional point of view, he is an extremely gifted person and he has a great future. I hope the country doesn’t forget its talented children, such as [Beisembayev], even when we see that real talent can always find a way to succeed,” said Tuleuova.
Beisembayev remains almost unknown among the Kazakh public. There are almost no video or audio materials available about him or his performances. But his numerous scholarships, including the one provided by the Spivakov Foundation, as well as competition victories speak to his talents and bright future.
The Van Cliburn International Competition, established in 1962, is held every four years for pianists between the ages of 18 and 30. The junior competition, which is open to pianists between the ages of 13 and 17, is the latest addition to the music contest. This year the competition showcased 23 musicians from 13 countries selected via online applications and video submissions.