Two pianists, one blind, tie for gold medal at Cliburn Competition
In terms of profile, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition still looms large, even if winners don't necessarily go on to create top-drawer careers. The 2009 competition, which ended Sunday, was swept by Asian pianists, two of them tying for gold medal: Nobuyuki Tsujii, 20 (Japan), and Haochen Zhang, 19 (China). They were the youngest of the 29 contestants this year, and Nobuyuki Tsujii is the first blind competitor ever to advance beyond the preliminaries in the Cliburn's 47-year history. Yeol Eum Son, 23 (South Korea), took the silver medal.
As usual, not everyone is persuaded by the jury's decision. You can already find comments suggesting that Nobuyuki Tsujii ...
would not have advanced were it not for his disability (he has been blind since birth).
Based on the performances I've caught on cliburn.tv, which has excellent videos of all the winners, I'd say that Haochen Zhang is the standout. But both young men clearly have something to offer.
Feel free to weigh in after checking out some of those cliburn.tv clips, or the YouTube excerpts I've posted here.