At Home in America: Van Cliburn Laureate Antonio Pompa-Baldi
On the occasion of his first trip to the US, Visiting Assistant Professor of Piano Antonio Pompa-Baldi was offered a glimpse of what would be in store for him here: he won the 1999 Cleveland International Piano Competition.

In the two years since, the native of Foggia, Italy, has learned English, won a spot on Oberlin's faculty, and picked up another prize: a silver medal in the 11th Van Cliburn Competition, held in June 2001 in Forth Worth, Texas.

Dallas Morning News music critic Scott Cantrell wrote: "(Pompa-Baldi's) performances of the Prokofiev Third Concerto were awesomely assured and beautifully expressive in the more introspective parts. And his eloquent, delicately tinted account of the Debussy Suite bergamasque was one of the competition's high points."

Aside from sharing the silver, Pompa-Baldi won the Phyllis Jones Tilley Memorial Award for the best performance of a new work ­ Lowell Libermann's "Three Impromptus" ­ during the semifinal round.

The perks of a Cliburn win include a $20,000 cash award, two years of concert engagements, artist management, and a recording on the Harmonia Mundi label that features the competition winners.

There is also the matter of national television exposure. The 2001 competition was the subject of The Cliburn: Playing on the Edge, an October 2001 PBS documentary directed by Emmy Award winner Peter Rosen.

Pompa-Baldi, 27, was a top prizewinner of the 1998 Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition in Paris. He has performed extensively throughout the US and Europe, including Lincoln Center in New York; Sala Verdi in Milan; Salle Cortot, Salle Gaveau, and Salle Pleyel in Paris; Severance Hall in Cleveland; and Teatro Diana in Naples. He has been a featured soloist with the Orchestre National de Paris-Radio France, the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana (Italy), the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, and the Charleston (S.C.), Savannah, (Ga.), Southwest Florida (Fort Myers, Fla.) and Spokane (Wash.) symphony orchestras. He performed Liszt's Second Piano Concerto with the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra in October 2001.
Pompa-Baldi has served on the faculty of the Annamaria Pennella International Academy in L'Aquila, Italy. He has recorded a CD of Brahms piano music on the Azica label, and, in 2001, he signed a recording contract with Centaur Records. Pompa-Baldi attributes much of his success to Annamaria Pennella, with whom he studied for more than seven years.

­ Charity Lofthouse '99

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