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Con Brio, The John Gomes Memorial Piano Competition and Festival, is an annual event presented by Furtados and directed by Parvesh Java. The competition aims to provide a strong incentive to young Indian pianists to aim for high standards of pianism. The festival aims to promote strong relationships among Western classical musicians, especially pianists. Centred on a philosophy of collaboration, the event has musicians from India and abroad coming together not only to perform with each other but also to embark on educational projects such as music lessons, masterclasses, workshops and a piano camp.

Con Brio is dedicated to the late John Gomes, who, as owner and guiding light of Furtados for almost 50 years, made a significant contribution to the development of music performance and education. He purchased two Furtados stores in the 1950s and today there are 20 showrooms serving the cause of music all over the country.

 

A closer look at the festival

The festival is hosted at the National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) each year and took place between July 12 to 19, 2015.

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The competition aims to provide a strong incentive to young Indian pianists to aim for high standards of pianism. The festival aims to promote strong relationships among Western Classical Musicians, especially pianists. Centred on a philosophy of collaboration, the event has musicians from India and abroad coming together not only to perform with each other but also to embark on educational projects such as music lessons, masterclasses, workshops and a piano camp.

 

Highlights from 2015

In 2015, Furtados celebrating their 150 year anniversary made Con Brio all the more special with the festival lasting over a week.

The programme included highlights from past Con Brio editions, namely, Glazunov’s Festive Cantata with the Paranjoti Academy Chorus, Bach’s Concerto for 4 Keyboards with the Bombay Chamber Orchestra and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The Paranjoti Academy Chorus and soloists gave the world premiere of the wedding scene from Vanraj Bhatia’s opera Agnivarsha.

The programme ended with a special arrangement of the finale from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony for chorus and eight pianos sung collectively by several of Mumbai’s well-known choruses. The programme featured Paul Stewart, Marialena Fernandes, Patricia Rozario, Mark Troop, Karl Lutchmayer and The Fidelio Trio among others.

 

Takeaways from 2015

The festival has built a reputation to a degree where people from all over the country fly down to Mumbai to attend the event. In the words of Java himself, “Con Brio is one of India’s major festivals dedicated to Western Classical music and draws its enthusiasts for the week. All performances for Con Brio were sold out and the 150 year anniversary celebration concerts on Friday and Saturday had to have a repeat performance on Sunday afternoon of that week before the piano competition finals.”

 

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Parvesh Java

Java feels that India is now most definitely opening up to Western classical music with every year of Con Brio becoming bigger than the last. He avers, “I want Con Brio to take place in other cities – that is the plan for the coming years. At the same time, I’d like to invite entrepreneurs and curators across other cities in India to hopefully make this happen on day – A Con Brio in every city in India.”

 

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