An amateur is invigorated by her Cliburn experience

June 17, 1999|By M. Dion Thompson

Linda Gilbert is back from piano heaven, the glow of that experience still in her voice.

She played a fantastic Steinway piano, competed against other pianists chosen for the Van Cliburn Foundation's competition of outstanding amateurs, and sat in on a talk given by Cliburn, one of her heroes of the keyboard. His words brought her to tears.

"It was great," she says. "He quoted from Rachmaninoff, and what he said is that music is enough for a lifetime. Music, all by itself, is enough for a lifetime. But a lifetime is not enough for music."

Last month found Gilbert, an accountant from Baltimore County, practicing day and night, preparing a program for the judges in Fort Worth, Texas. She and 88 other pianists from around the world were getting ready for a unique performance. The competition June 9-13 was open to exceptional pianists over 30 who did not make their living as musicians.

"For us it was a spark to play again," she says.

She rediscovered herself in the piano. She worked on Mozart, Scarlatti, Debussy and Rachmaninoff, old friends from her conservatory days. At Fort Worth, she played a 10-minute program that included the sarabande from Debussy's Pour le Piano and a Rachmaninoff prelude in G minor.

She didn't win. She didn't make the semifinals. She played the best she could and had a good time. The 9-foot Steinway concert grand "was one of the best pianos I'd ever played in my entire life," she says. There was more to be gained than victory.

"Oh, definitely it was worth it because I started playing again and I have a contact with Jeffrey Chappell and I'm going to keep working with him," she says. "And I developed a program so I can play other places."

Get ready Baltimore, a rejuvenated Gilbert may be coming to a venue near you.

Pub Date: 6/17/99

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