Tim Madigan, Star-Telegram
With the historic snowfall turned to rain and slush, Jeanette Aufiero fought traffic from her family’s home in New Jersey and a devilishly difficult sonata by Prokofiev.
Then it was done.
The 26-year-old pianist, who studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, had successfully completed her audition for the 2013 Cliburn International Piano Competition.
“This is huge. It’s like telling someone you auditioned for the Olympics,” she said in the lobby of the Caspary Auditorium at Rockefeller University. “The Cliburn is the Olympics of piano, at least that’s how I think of it.
“Yeah, check one off the bucket list. At least I tried. Whatever happens from here on out, at least I can say I did it.”
Aufiero was the second pianist to perform here Monday, one of more than 30 who will audition between now and Saturday.
Then the auditions move to Fort Worth, and sometime after they end Feb. 22, the five jurors will select 30 of the 133 pianists they have heard from around the world to compete in May. In previous weeks, the Cliburn competition jury has conducted auditions in China, Germany, Russia and Italy.
About 50 piano aficionados attended the first New York session, drawn to the auditorium on the Upper East Side of Manhattan by the Cliburn’s reputation for excellence.
In the audience were Audrey Abela and Alex Karpayev, themselves young pianists. Karpayev auditioned for the Cliburn four years ago but did not advance.
“It’s one of the biggest competitions in the world, and it’s interesting to see who might be selected, who’s on top of their game this year,” Karpayev said. “I’m curious who is playing, what they are playing, and how they are playing it.”