Around the State

Piano men—and women—play around at the Van Cliburn Foundation’s amateur night (Fort Worth). Plus: An aquarium you simply have to sea (Galveston); George Bush, the exhibit (Fredericksburg); Cowtown’s sesquicentennial (Fort Worth); and surf’s up…on the wall (Corpus Christi).

THE MAIN EVENT

The Keys to Success

No, this is not the year for that piano competition named after 1958 Tchaikovsky prizewinner Van. Instead, Fort Worth’s Van Cliburn Foundation is unveiling a brand-new contest that promises quite different rewards for players and audiences alike. From June 9 to 13 the first International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs will bring together 97 pianists from around the world who make their living as ambassadors, homemakers, and computer programmers, among other things. Fourteen Texans are included, passionate pianists all, who chose not to quit the day job but still carry the torch for their first love. With a top prize of just $2,000, winning isn’t everything, but the motivation to enter was simple for Austin lawyer David Gilliland. “The competition provides a rare chance to play in front of people who are knowledgeable about classical music,” he says poignantly. San Antonio psychiatrist Terresa Stallworth, who has appeared with the San Antonio Symphony at schools and hospitals, will also enjoy performing for connoisseurs. “I need a goal to practice toward,” she says, “or I’m just playing around.” And with the repertory completely unrestricted, there should be many pleasant surprises for the sympathetic audience—many of whom are amateur pianists themselves. Chester Rosson

GRAND OPENING

New Waves

They may not rank among the seven wonders of the world, but the pyramids at Galveston’s Moody Gardens are certainly one of Texas’ most popular tourist destinations. And when the Aquarium at Moody Gardens opens on June 25, the complex will also boast one of the biggest aquariums in the world. A plethora of sea creatures—from playful fur seals and timid lookdowns to spotted moray eels and sand tiger sharks—will make their new home there in 1.5 million gallons of water. The aquatic treasures will be housed in four separate exhibits: North Pacific, Tropical Pacific, Caribbean, and the Edge of the Antarctic (where some forty king penguins, above, will reside). “We want to show the interconnectedness of these major habitats,” explains Doug Kemper, the aquarium’s director. “The drop of water that lands in the Brazos River and travels into the Gulf of Mexico theoretically goes all the way around the world.” Visitors, however, won’t have to make such an exhaustive journey to get a feel for life under the sea. An underwater dome allows visitors to have “a scuba experience without getting wet,” says Kemper, who describes the mystique of aquariums as “serene and peaceful, though also a little mysterious.” Or, you might say, moody. Eileen Schwartz

MUSEUMS

The Good Soldier

As a senior at Andover, George Bush was strolling near the campus’s chapel when he learned that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. After graduating the following spring, the future president set aside the advice of his father and decided to enlist, putting off Yale for the sake of fighting the war. By the time he was discharged, Lieutenant Bush had become the youngest commissioned pilot in the history of the naval air service, flown 58 missions (once escaping from a burning plane that had been riddled with enemy fire), and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross—all by the age of 21. On June 11 Bush will recall those memories at the opening of the George Bush Gallery of the National Museum of the Pacific War, a $3 million addition to the Admiral Nimitz Historical Center in Fredericksburg. At the world’s only museum dedicated to the Pacific Theater, visitors can learn about Bush’s life as a young soldier, peek inside a two-man Japanese submarine that was captured near Pearl Harbor, and see and hear a B-25 prepare to take off from the U.S.S. Hornet. It’s an opportunity to learn about the sacrifices made by “the greatest generation,” as well as a chance to understand the forces that shaped a president. Brian D. Sweany

FESTIVAL

Celebrate Till the Cows Come Home

If you get a kick out of Fort Worth and its history, follow the trail of Cowtown residents who will be herding into special events this month for the climax of Fort Worth’s yearlong sesquicentennial celebration. The festivities begin on June 5 with a 150th anniversary ceremony hosted by Mayor Kenneth Barr (complete with a precision military drill performance and a flyby of F-16’s), a Fort Worth Symphony salute with pianist Van Cliburn, and a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave site of Major Ripley Arnold, who established Camp Worth on the banks of the Trinity River on June 6, 1849. The next day features a festival that celebrates city history, where cowboy poet Red Steagall, R&B ace Delbert McClinton, and others will sing the town’s praises. But the premier event is the cattle drive through downtown, which begins June 12 with a ceremonial exchange of gifts between the descendants of Comanche chief Quanah Parker and rancher Burk Burnett. A herd of fifteen Longhorns from the Stockyards will lumber through the Main Street–Trinity River area daily, proving that, in spirit at least, Fort Worth is still where the West begins. Though officials don’t know how long the cattle drive will go on, trail boss Dennis Merrell is certain of one thing: “Everything we do will be an authentic interpretation of an 1890 drive,” he says, “right down to the cowboys’ spurs.” Katy Vine

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