James Conlon on Van Cliburn

"Classical music has lost one of its great artists this week. Van Cliburn's immeasurable pianism was equaled by his humanity, which, taken together, earned him legendary status. He demonstrated the power of art to bind humans together across the opposing lines of the Cold War. He transformed the fruits of his monumental success to help generations of young pianists around the world. I have known him for almost 40 years since we first collaborated together. His return to Ravinia for the 2005 Gala was a moving experience. This iconic musician had returned for his valedictory festival performance with the Chicago Symphony and with me. His interpretation of Grieg’s Piano Concerto was distinguished by the maturity and thoughtful nuance that are the hallmarks of the great musician he was. I mourn the loss of a friend—the kindest, most generous, gentle, hospitable and courteous man who has ever graced the concert stage."

–James Conlon, Music Director of Ravinia