San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Piano Concert to Benefit Children’s Hospital

VAN Cliburn, the classical pianistwhose music transcended even the nuclearthreats of the Cold War, will play a benefitconcert in San José’s National Theatertomorrow.Every colón collected from ticket saleswill be used to bolster the services providedby the National Children’s Hospital.The event is sponsored entirely by oneman and his business: Bradford Corbettand his Costa Rica-based water and sewerpipe gasket manufacturing company,Terramix, S.A.“I think the reason we’re in Costa Rica,and the country’s biggest asset, is the people,and we decided to give something tothem,” Corbett told The Tico Times. “Andwhat better way to help the people than tohelp the children?”Cliburn and the National Theater havesold Corbett their services on the cheap tohelp raise money for a new X-ray machinefor the hospital.The machine the hospital needs costs$160,000. Corbett said most of the moneywill come from donations from individualsand businesses rather than ticket sales.Already on board are Durman Esquivel,Interfin, Amanco and Terranova, and theevent’s organizers hope other businesseswill follow suit.CORBETT spent the week in CostaRica polishing the business cogs on hiswell-oiled gasket machine, a mammothplant in Santa Ana, west of San José, thatemploys 1,000 people and is a “major factor”in the world market, he said.He has been paving Cliburn’s arrivalthis week and meeting with old friends andbusiness associates.Corbett himself is a weighty personality,and not just because of his girth. Hebuilt his business from a small, 10-employeeoperation in the early 1980s to the worldleader it is today. A former owner of theTexas Rangers, Corbett decorates his officewith an autographed picture of U.S. baseballall-stars Whitey Ford and MickeyMantle and another of U.S. PresidentGeorge W. Bush and his wife Laura.Cliburn is a “dear friend” of Corbett’sfrom time they spent in Ft. Worth, Texas,Corbett said.THE pianist has played for presidentsand royalty, and was like a musical emissaryfrom the United States to the SovietUnion during the Cold War. The term“icon of American music” is bandiedabout Corbett’s office when Cliburn ismentioned.The pianist leaped into the spotlight in1958 when he won the First InternationalTchaikovsky Festival in Moscow at age 23.At that time, at the height of the ColdWar, the distinction sparked riotous celebrationin the United States, whichreceived him as a national hero when hereturned. His bushy-haired head graced thecover of Time magazine, and New YorkCity celebrated with a ticker-tape parade,the first and only the city has thrown for aclassical-music performer.That same year he recorded Tchaikovsky’sPiano Concerto Number 1, andsales soared to more than3 million, making it thefirst classical music albumto go platinum.IN the decades since,he has been lavishlyacclaimed around theworld. Most recently,Russian President VladimirPutin awarded himthe Medal of Friendship in2004, and President Bushgave him the LibertyMedal, the highest honorthe United States concedesto distinguished citizens,in 2003.He has performed forevery U.S. Presidentsince Harry Truman, and,since his victory inMoscow, he was ofteninvited to play in the formerSoviet Union, andplayed for European royalty, and ministersand Presidents throughout the world.Cliburn was destined for a careerbefore the piano, playing his orchestraldebut with the Houston Symphony at theage of 12, as winner of a state contest foryouth.He has dedicated the fruits of his talentto encouraging young musicians, foundingthe Van Cliburn International PianoCompetition in 1962 for the promotion andcultivation of young players, and later theVan Cliburn Foundation, which has supportedthe most important piano competitionsin the world. He also sponsors manyscholarships in music schools around theUnited States and the world, including theU.S. schools Juilliard and the CincinnatiConservatory, the Franz Liszt Academy inBudapest, and conservatories in Moscowand Leningrad, among others.THE National Theater, where Cliburnwill play, is San José’s haven for acclaimedartists. Its prestige was summed up succinctlyby an unlikely source, former CostaRican Foreign Trade Minister Samuel Guzowski,who was Corbett’s business partnerwhen the gasket company was in its infancyin the 1980s.“Costa Rica has a wealth of naturalbeauty, but…” he said, and paused. “Wecan’t be proud of our city – except theNational Theater. We have one building thewhole world should admire, and I’ve seentheaters around the world,” he said.Tickets range from ¢10,000-25,000($22-54). Showtime is Feb. 12, 8 p.m. Formore information, call the NationalTheater at 221-1329.

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