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'Like a homecoming:' Minnesota-based pianist, Van Cliburn Silver Medalist performing at MSUM

Minnesota native Kenneth Broberg, 24, won the silver medal at the prestigious Van Cliburn Piano Competition in June. Photo courtesy The Cliburn / Special to The Forum1 / 2
Broberg’s concert at MSUM will be the first concert he’s played in his home state since the competition. Photo courtesy The Cliburg / Special to The Forum2 / 2

When he was a child, Minnesota-based pianist Kenneth Broberg remembers being fascinated by his mother's upright piano.

His parents weren't musicians themselves, so the piano — a wedding gift from his mother's parents — mostly served as a decorative prop in his childhood home until he started taking piano lessons at age 6.

Broberg says his parents ingrained an appreciation for classical music in him early in life.

"That made me want to recreate what I heard," he says.

So began his career path toward stardom.

After studying piano for 18 years, Broberg's undeniable talent and relentless passion led him to win the Silver Medal at the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Forth Worth, Texas, last June.

The 24-year-old has performed all over the world since then, recreating the classics for all ages to enjoy.

For the first time since the competition, Broberg is performing in his home state at Minnesota State University Moorhead as part of the university's Cheryl Nelson Lossett Performing Arts Series.

Broberg's performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on MSUM's Gaede Stage includes works by Franck, Bach, Barber and Liszt.

He says the concert feels "kind of like a homecoming."

"It's a special concert for me because my friends and family will be there," he says. "That doesn't get to happen very often."

MSUM booked the Silver Medalist of the Van Cliburn piano competition before it took place, so the university was excited when the winner happened to be from Minnesota.

"It's exciting because competitors come from all over the world — China, Italy, Russian, Britain, Japan, Korea, Romania, Germany, Taiwan, Austria, Canada and more," says Rebecca Sundet-Schoenwald, managing director of the Cheryl Nelson Lossett Performing Arts Series.

"I would have been thrilled to host someone from another country. But it was thrilling to learn that someone from our own state won the Silver Medal."

The Van Cliburn Piano competition is one of the most distinguished piano competitions in the world that attracts pianists ages 18 to 30.

It all began when young American pianist Van Cliburn won the first Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow at the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s. This resulted in unprecedented celebrity status for an American concert pianist, the Cliburn website says. "Cliburn's international victory instilled a fresh sense of artistic pride in many Americans, while opening the door to a new era of cultural relations between East and West," the website states.

The competition was established to foster Van Cliburn's "unique legacy of demonstrating how classical music, in the hands of a master, has the appeal to reach across all borders," according to the website. Broberg said although the application and competition process was intense, he'll remember the experience for the rest of his life.

"It's a great honor to be associated with the competition. It's also a responsibility to represent the (Cliburn) organization," he continues. "This (opportunity) is going to give me the chance to perform a lot and do what I need to do to improve." Broberg currently resides in Parkville, Missouri, under the guidance of 2001 Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Stanislav Ioudenitch at Park University.

Broberg also performs a brief concert at 11 a.m. Thursday on Gaede Stage where he'll talk about his experiences and answer questions from the audience. All are welcome to attend.

For more information on the Cliburn, visit www.cliburn.org.

If You Go

What: The Silver Winner of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition Performance featuring Kenneth Broberg

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19

Where: Gaede Stage at MSUM's Roland Dille Center for the Arts, 801 13th St. S., Moorhead

Tickets: Visit www.mnstate.edu/perform or call the MSUM Box Office at (218) 477-2271

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit theartspartnership.net.

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