Con Brio Music Competition returns after a year hiatus |

Con Brio Music Competition returns after a year hiatus

Saturday's event is open to the public

The Con Brio Music Competition is back after taking last year off.

The event, which starts at 9 a.m. and will feature vocalists and composers of all ages, will be held Saturday, March 11, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4595 N. Silver Springs Road

“This is our 11th competition and the goal is to get kids to play and perform music,” said Michael Vermillion, the competition’s co-founder, during a Park Record interview. “Our mission statement talks about the camaraderie of music and how it gets kids together.”

This idea is important to Vermillion, because he remembers how lonely it was playing music when he was growing up.

“With the exception of doing choir and bell choir at school, I was alone in my music,” he said. “I played piano, and that was a very private instrument, so participating in competitions like this, I found that I could get out and see that there are a lot of other people playing, too.”

Unfortunately, this year’s Con Brio Music Competition won’t feature a piano category.

“There weren’t enough sign ups,” Vermillion said. “But we are holding the vocal solo competitions and the composition competitions.”

The vocal and composition competitors are separated into age groups. For example, vocalists ages 4-12 will be placed together as will be ages 13-17. 18-34 and artists ages 35 and older will be in the last group.

The composition groups will include ages 4-12 and 13-17.

Vermillion worked with Debra Cook, the vocal competitors to Utah Conservatory co-founder and vocal teacher to select the competitors.

“We looked for musical theater selections and a classical-music selection that would show that the singers were well-versed in vocal performance,” Vermillion said. “Some children tried to apply with a pop song by Taylor Swift or another artist, but this wasn’t the competition for that style, because we are geared to help the kids who are moving toward a professional route in vocal music.”

While Vermillion loves watching younger singers, the competition category that Vermillion especially enjoys is the 35-and-older group.

“It’s interesting because all the singers in this category rally around each other,” he said. “Unlike the younger competitors who come in and sing and leave and wait for us to contact them if they win, every one of the older competitors sing and then sit and watch the others and wait with each other until I’m ready to announce the winners. I wish the younger kids would stick around to see that.”

All of the competitors are amateur.

“When professional and semi-professional singers contact us, we just ask them to sign up for an evaluation,” Vermillion said.

The composition competition will start at 2:50 p.m.

“This is my favorite competition because it gives opportunities for kids who play other instruments to join the Con Brio Competition,” Vermillion said. “This year we have entries who wrote songs for guitar and vocals, piano and cello.”

The other reason he likes the category is it’s open to anyone who likes to create music.

“While I’m not a professional composer by any means, I love to tinker around with composing,” Vermillion said. “So, even if kids just tinker around with music, they can enjoy competing.”

All of the competitions sessions are open to the public.

“We start at 9 a.m. and anyone can come in and enjoy the music,” Vermillion said. “They can come for a few minutes or come for the whole day.”

As has been the case with past Con Brio Competitions, there will be a celebratory concert at the end of the night at 7 p.m.

“We will get all the first- and second-place winners together and perform a big recital,” Vermillion said. “We’ll have them perform and then hand out the trophies. The fun thing is the kids who sing that night only know they placed in the top two, but don’t know exactly where they placed, so they find out which place they get when the concert is over.”

The Con Brio Music Competition is a labor of love for Vermillion.

“It allows me relive my memories of high school and I love seeing the older singers get behind each other,” he said.

Still, putting on the event is challenging, said Vermillion who runs his own private studio, and teaches at the Utah Conservatory and at two different Catholic schools.

“I have to be honest and say the reason why we didn’t hold the competition last year is because I questioned why I did it,” Vermillion said. “This year, I wanted to get back into it, because I love seeing all the kids working hard at their music.”

Vermillion’s musical upbringing also played a part in getting the competition back up and running.

“It’s funny, but my parents pushed me into piano, but I had bad eye sight and we didn’t figure that out until I was in fifth grade,” he said. “Up until then, I hated music and quit my lessons. Once I got glasses, I got back into it because I could see the music.”

That’s when Vermillion’s love for music took off.

“It got to the point where my parents had to ground me from the piano because I was playing it and not doing my homework,” he said with a laugh.

The Con Brio Music Competition returns on Saturday, March 11, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4595 N. Silver Springs Road. The competition will feature solo vocalists between the ages of 4 and 35, as well as young composers between the ages of 4 and 17. The public is invited to attend for free. For information, visit

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