Con Brio Music Competition returns to showcase local talent |

Con Brio Music Competition returns to showcase local talent

Con Brio Music Competition Awards and Recital

4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3

Utah Conservatory and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church


The Con Brio Music Competition will return to Park City this weekend.

The event, which is coming off a two-year hiatus, will run from Friday, Aug. 2, to Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Utah Conservatory and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. (See accompanying schedule.)

Debra Cook, Utah Conservatory cofounder, said the Con Brio, which started in 2004, takes a different approach to the music competition philosophy.

“Sometimes ‘competition’ can be a pejorative word for many students, because they don’t like the stress of preparing works and performing them against other musicians,” she said. “We want to get back to the basic meaning of the word ‘competition.’”

Cook said her late husband Dr. Fred Cook was always fond of the word “competence,” which is root word of competition.

“In that sense, a competition is an opportunity to gain and measure one’s competence in a skill, and it’s not really important to win,” she said. “Instead, we give musicians a chance to ask themselves ‘What is my level of being able to find the significance of a piece I’m performing?’ or ‘What is my level of competence of knowing how I have to rehearse to feel comfortable with my memorization?’”

Musicians and vocalists have already registered to audition, according to Cook.

“Sometimes we will get kids as young as 5, and when you hear and see them perform, you just can’t believe what they can do,” she said. “This year, we also have a singer in her late 60s who will audition for voice.”

Con Brio Music Competition 2019 schedule


• Piano — 10 a.m. to 3 p m., Friday, Aug. 2 at the Utah Conservatory, 4593 Silver Springs Dr.

• Strings — 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 2, at the Utah Conservatory

• Composition — 6 p.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, Aug. 2, at the Utah Conservatory

• Voice — 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4595 Silver Strings Dr.


• 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4595 Silver Springs Dr.

The competition pulls people from Salt Lake City and the larger Mountain West, Cook said.

“We’ve even had someone one come one year from the middle of Nevada,” she said.

This year, the Con Brio Competition will bring Myron Silberstein, an international-level vocal coach, concert pianist and composer from Chicago, as a guest judge.

“I’ve followed him for years at national conventions where he would just joyfully play for some of the best singers in the world,” Cook said. “We’ve set time in each of our auditions this year so Myron can give feedback, as well as a written evaluation.”

While the Con Brio Competition auditions are closed, the public is invited to the award ceremony and recital that will start at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, at St.Luke’s Episcopal Church, Cook said.

The recitals will be performed by first and second place winners, she said.

“We’ll have probably have a dozen performances of piano, strings and voice,” she said. “We’ll also serve refreshments as well.”

The recitals are designed to show the musicians’ levels of talent.

“One contestant may perform a Bach fugue with absolute clarity, precision and articulation, with both hands cleanly playing all four melodic lines, while another contestant might thrill us with a histrionic flash of a Rachmaninoff piece,” Cook said. “We want to celebrate the development of these lifelong skills of musicianship that will bring joy, recreation and entertainment to ourselves over the long run. We have a community of people who have achieved a high-level of training. They are very talented and intelligent in those areas.”

The mission has remained the same since the competition’s first year in 2004, Cook said.

It was founded by Michael Vermillion, who is now the music teacher at St. Andrew Catholic School in Salt Lake City, at the suggestion of Gina Bachauer piano champion Eugine Watanabe.

“Mike ran it beautifully, but he’s gotten so busy with his other work that he had to hand it over to us,” Cook said. “And now we hope to take it to the next level.”

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