Pianist Van Cliburn, who has performed before highbrow audiences in some of the world's great concert halls, can add Cornhusker football fans and Nebraska's Memorial Stadium to the list.

Cliburn performed the national anthem before the Nebraska-Minnesota game Saturday at the request of his old friend D.B. "Woody" Varner, the former University of Nebraska president."I'm just extremely flattered to be here," Cliburn said in Lincoln, Neb.

The musician said he met Varner more than 25 years ago when Varner, then chancellor of Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., helped build a performing arts center there.

Although Cliburn said he had not played the piano before a football game before, he is no stranger to the sport.

"I was a clarinet player in the Kilgore (Texas) High School marching band," he said. "I have loved football all my life and have marched in many games."