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It is the first time after its inception 7 years ago have I followed this piano competition in its every detail. What transpired from 19 – 21 August 2016 at the Experimental theatre NCPA, Mumbai in a newly refurbished setting, which was both attractive and acoustically perfect, is hard to beat.

© Furtados

© Furtados

This is a plea for the organisers to put your internationally recognised annual piano fiesta during the months of July and August in memory of the late John Gomes of the Furtados family. Furtados is over a century long establishment in Bombay and later acquired by the Gomes’ family whose matriarch Antoinette and scion Anthony are the propelling force. They have joined hands with the illustrious Godrej family well-known in India for its many guises ranging from designed furniture, hardware, fine foods and perishables properties, philanthropic hospitals, performing arts venues and now this piano festival. Pheroza Godrej resplendent in her Parsi saree and jewellery made a rare public appearance and along with Mrs. Gomes distributed the prizes including a hefty first prize of 3,00,000 rupees. The second prize and the two joint third prizes was indeed very generous of the judges to award all the finalists and even an audience prize. Thus, all four finalists received some celebration of their success and encouragement for other contestants. Why is it that we do not hear any participants from Delhi or Kolkata?

Winner of Con Brio 2016 - Rajat Chowdhury © Furtados

Winner of Con Brio 2016 – Rajat Chowdhury © Furtados

As one of the judges for the semi-finals of the competition’s first edition in 2010, I can say that there were plenty of entrants from both those cities then. Parvesh Java, are we reaching out sufficiently to an all-India participation? Parvesh, who I first met those long 7 years ago, I have known as the youngest complete musician in the city as a pianist, conductor and arranger par excellence.

Ringing in my memory is his Choral finale of the “Ode to Joy” arranged in English with eight pianos and sixteen pianists each playing primo or secondo from last year. This time we heard a baritone solo and one movement from Brahm’s German Requiem arranged for the Paranjoti Chorus and piano and string ensemble. The string players all very competent chosen by Parvesh for their excellence sometimes on one or even two instruments from the Bombay Chamber Orchestra.

© Furtados

© Furtados

But what made the event special was all the participants as jury and performers for this weekend’s extravaganza from overseas. Including the illustrious OBE Patricia Rozario, her equally luminous Bombay-Goan Marialena Fernandes from Vienna, Mark Troop, Ranko Markovic and Tatyana Dichenko made stellar appearances. I urge you to lookup the Con Brio website to get involved in future editions. Like the Symphony Orchestra of India seasons, these events must be put on the international map for piano lovers from all parts of the world to come and worship this three-legged fabulous and complete instrument!

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