From almost 300 would-be contestants to the final six, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas is coming to a close this Saturday evening, when the winner will be announced. This is the fifteenth quadrennial competition, and of the finalists, there are two from Russia, one from South Korea, one from Hong Kong, and two Americans, including Bay Area native, Daniel Hsu.

There’s more information about the schedule at the Van Cliburn Competition website.

Hsu is the youngest of the finalists, and enjoying his time in Fort Worth: “It’s surreal. Even though it’s a competition, and you know, there’s a lot of stress and preparation, but the overall feeling is just… incredible, and it’s a lot of fun, and I’m having a blast.” With several prestigious wins under his belt – the Concert Artists Guild competition in 2015, being named a Gilmore Young Artist last year, he’s well equipped to go all the way. “I applied because I thought it might be fun, and I happened to get a couple of concerts that required similar repertoire to what I would use in this competition, so figured, ‘why not?’ I submitted a tape, and somehow passed that, and then I did their live screening in New York and somehow passed that too, and I got on a plane to Texas, and here I am!” Perhaps it’s the competition experience he’s already racked up, but he’s not intimidated by the process. “For me, I don’t really see it as that much of a difference. I mean, in the end, it’s just a couple of performances… I’ve heard people say that, in competitions you should be more careful and you should try and play for the jury. I didn’t particularly take that approach for this competition. I played how I felt in the moment, and how I thought the music should be portrayed, and I tried to portray what the composer’s intentions were as well as my own interpretation of the music.”

Many thanks to Gail Wein of Classical Music Communications, who was on site in Fort Worth, for helping to make this piece possible.