June 5, 2002
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Cliburn piano contest for amateurs kicks off in Fort Worth


By ANGELA K. BROWN / The Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas — Greg and Miho Fisher selected romantic and love-inspired pieces for this year's Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs.

The couple married a few months after meeting at the 1999 competition for adults who don't earn their living playing or teaching piano.

"Our music now is based on that, our happiness and love," Greg Fisher said Monday before competing. "It's a dream come true for both of us."

Among the 75 players from 24 states and four countries are a dentist, television news anchor, missionary, professors, doctors, attorneys and homemakers. They were selected from 130 applicants.

Preliminary rounds started Monday and are to finish Wednesday at TCU. Semifinalists are to play Friday and finalists Saturday, with awards presented that night.

The event is an offshoot of the well-known Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, named for the acclaimed pianist who gained prominence after winning the first Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow in 1958. The Cliburn contest started in 1962 and is held every four years.

Cliburn's International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs started in 1999 and was held again in 2000. After that, organizers decided to hold it every two years so it would not coincide the same years as the Cliburn competition for professionals.

When Greg Fisher met Miho Yamada at the first amateur competition, he was working in his family's glass installation business in Edmond, Okla., and she was a Japanese pediatric cardiologist doing research in Houston.

Neither had been married, and both were in their late 30s. They hit if off, but her visa was about to expire. So when she visited Fisher in Oklahoma several weeks later before returning to Japan, he proposed.

"In my heart it was telling me, `This is the one.' It just seemed right," he said.

He flew to Japan to see his fiance in November 1999, and the couple married there. Because of a relative's medical problems, Miho could not return to the United States until the next spring.

The couple competed in the 2000 Cliburn contest for amateurs, where Miho advanced to the semifinals but Greg did not. They were married in a Catholic ceremony in July 2000 in Oklahoma.

They now live in Denton, where Greg Fisher — who has a master's degree in piano performance — works as a web developer while teaching his wife to hone her piano skills. They play for retirement homes and also plan to have children.

"This life is very different, and I like it," Miho Fisher said. "When I was a doctor in Japan, this kind of (family) life I could not imagine."


On the Net:

Cliburn Foundation: http://www.cliburn.org

(ap.state.online.tx 0263 06/03/2002 19:44:57 )
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