Conbrio | 2019

Con Brio 2019 – More Schumania – Celebrating Women With Clara

Song Evening – Thu 01 Aug at 07:00 PM

Chamber Music Concert – Fri 02 Aug at 07:00 PM

Semifinals and Seafarer – Sat 03 Aug at 07:00 PM

Competition Finals – Sun 04 Aug at 06:30 PM


When Parvesh Java approached Anthony Gomes with the idea of celebrating Robert Schumann’s bicentenary, neither knew what was in store. The timing was perfect because the Gomes family had been looking to memorialise John Gomes, the man responsible for Furtados. It was Anthony who suggested exploring the possibility of an annual piano competition. Back then, the two barely knew each other, but something felt very right and together they went on to create Con Brio and the first festival was called Schumania. Today we embark on the tenth edition of the festival and, again, what perfect timing that it’s the other great Schumann’s bicentenary – Clara! So we hark back to the title of the first year and offer you More Schumania where we celebrate Clara by showcasing the work of women composers right from the eleventh century till the twenty-first: an outstanding group of which she is undoubtedly the most outstanding member. Clara was really the first woman who was able to, in her lifetime, achieve equal status to her male counterparts: not only as a composer but also as a pianist, thereby paving the way for women composers and instrumentalists to enter the mainstream as professionals. Each concert of the festival will include a work by Clara and will begin with an invocation composed by Hildegard von Bingen, the eleventh century nun who is the first named composer in history, male or female.

Thursday, August 1 at 7 p.m.

Women composers wrote music in every possible genre: solo instrument, chamber music, orchestral, vocal, choral and opera. However, of all these, they all had a natural propensity for songwriting and this concert showcases the exquisite compositional skill that they possessed in this genre. Patricia Rozario will perform songs by Deirdre GribbinMuriel Herbert and Alma Mahler. Nitya Thomas will sing Clara Schumann’s most beloved six songs from Op. 13 while Oscar Castellino will sing Amy Woodeforde-Finden’s Four Indian Love Lyrics. Ankna Arockiam with sing Shona Mackay, the youngest composer at this year’s Con Brio, Rahul Bharadwaj will sing Amy Marcy Beach and Kersi Gazdar will sing Rebecca Clarke. Other composers on the programme include Eva Dell’AcquaIngeborg von BronsartLiza Lehmann and Pauline Viardot, sung by Farah Ghadiali and Jennifer Lee. The concert will end with a chamber chorus singing Alice Parker’s Songstream accompanied by piano duet with Mark Troop and Shirley Manuel.

Friday, August 2 at 7 p.m.

Not too many women dared to write large-scale music such as operas and symphonies; that was the domain of men. For many of them, chamber music was their primary medium for instrumental writing and they contributed immensely to the genre. Marialena Fernandes and Ranko Markovic will perform Astrid Spitznagel’s Divertimento for piano duet, a modern work in four short movements. In Water’s Edge also for piano duet, performed by Nadine Crasto and Mark Troop, Hilary Tann explores the activity of light at the surface of water in three short movements. Kyong Mee Choi’s To Unformed for live piano and pre-recorded electronic sounds will introduce audiences to the world of electro-acoustic music. Prolific French composer Meìlanie Bonis’s flute sonata will be performed by Shirish Malhotra and Mark Troop. Other composers on the programme include Clara SchumannElizabeth Jacquet de la GuerreLaura NetzelLuise Adolpha Le BeauNadia Boulanger and Sofia Gubaidulina. Also performing are Earl Vasanthakumar, Eshvita Menezes, Joy Peter, Judyline Fernandes, Kevin Kirs Verstege, Leo Velho, Nakul Jogdeo, Priya Ann Sequeira, Rajat Chowdhury, Zubin Behram-Kamdin and last year’s Con Brio winner, Rishabh Jain.

Saturday, August 3 at 7 p.m.

Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio in G minor is a masterpiece at par with the greatest chamber music ever composed. Marialena Fernandes, Eshvita Menezes and Kevin Kirs Verstege will perform the complex first movement of this piece. This will be followed by the eight semifinalists of this year’s competition, each performing for approximately 5 minutes. The second half of the programme will be Sally Beamish’s very unique Seafarer Trio, written for narrator and piano trio, performed by Mika Nishimura, Jennifer Son and Parvesh Java, with narration by Rehaan Engineer. The half hour work is accompanied by projections of breathtaking animated drawings of the sea by Jila Peacock.The finalists will be declared at the end of the programme.

Sunday, August 4 at 6:30 p.m.

Sonam Lodhi will be the star of the evening, performing Clara Schumann’s unfinished piano concerto with string ensemble led by Eshvita Menezes. The first movement of Fanny Hensel’s Piano Quartet in A flat will be performed by Marialena Fernandes, Judyline Fernandes, Joy Peter and Bianca Mendonca while Subin Sebastian will sing Italian arias by Barbara Strozzi and Francesca Caccini accompanied by Mark Troop. Ceìcile Chaminade will be performed by Nakul Jogdeo, Josh Henriques and Sherna Doongaji, while Nadine Crasto will perform Lili Boulanger along with a vocal ensemble. The festival will end with Libby Larsen’s crazy piece Four on the Floor performed by Priya Ann Sequeira, Eshvita Menezes, Kevin Kirs Verstege and Jasiel Peter. Other composers on the programme include Germaine Tailleferre and Grace Williams.The finals of the competition as well as the prize distribution will also be part of this programme.

Over the past ten years, through our home-grown festival, we have made so many friends, learnt and shared so much good music (and so much of it rare and unique), widened audiences’ limits of western classical music, given so many musicians a chance to share their artistry and created a family of talented and passionate musicians in India. Last year, all the love that so many people have put into this venture since its inception culminated in the ability to present a high quality festival which rested solely on the shoulders of young Indian musicians. We are filled with gratitude towards the numerous musicians, audience members, administrators and friends who have made all this possible and look forward to newer horizons in the coming years.