Brioso Competition






“To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable!” — Ludwig van Beethoven

The Brioso (Bree-oh-zoh) is a unique competition for pianists playing with a permanently impaired arm or hand that Rosewood Fanning created expressly to have a place to compete with others experiencing the same challenge. I personally know of two musicians confronted with arm impairment. One musician is an accomplished professional pianist, John Bayless, who suffered a stroke, which paralyzed his right arm. The other, a young guitarist, Ed, where cancer rendered his left arm impaired.

In Spring 2016, I was watching a DVD of Mr. Bayless performing Mozart and other selections at the summer Newport (Rhode Island) Music Festival. In this wonderful program from a recital prior to his stroke, in addition to playing his solo mastery, Mr. Bayless accompanied a soprano. The idea occurred to me to add an arm impaired piano category to our competitions as a soulful compass. In my research, I cannot find a piano competition dedicated to musicians with a permanent impairment of one hand/ arm. I had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Bayless in the summer of 2017 about The Brioso. He loved the idea and hoped he could be involved in some fashion.

In recent performances posted to YouTube, Mr. Bayless talks of his emotional struggle to return to playing piano. I was happy to hear that such a gifted artist was guided back to music by happening to hear a radio transmission of Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. Mr. Bayless has created beautiful arrangements for the left hand. Also, with technology, he may record one part and then play the other during his live performance.

Ed played in a band south of Albany. Determined not to let cancer ruin his ability as a performer, Ed wanted Frieda’s theatre organ. He intended to play bass with his left foot and treble with his right arm. He was going to teach himself the mechanics of this beautiful instrument. The pedals alone were 22” long! His friends loaded the organ in a SUV type vehicle with the idea that they would transport it to venues, so Ed could continue to perform with his band. One on-line comment expressed admiration for Mr. Bayless’ resiliency. I was impressed with the grit of both Mr. Bayless and Ed to reclaim their connection to musical performance. I learned that whether a life event or birth defect has altered a person’s conduit to music, common ground is found seeking the determination to play. This competition was named “The Brioso” after the Italian musical term meaning “spirited” play to reflect the passion of those challenged performers finding vitality through music.

The Brioso currently offers category Piano only: piano solo, twin piano, and any other combination of multiple piano play.

  • There would be 3 classifications for entry by grade of music: novice, intermediate and advanced.
  • Currently, due to limited one-hand competition repertoire for novice and intermediate pianists, we will have YouTube auditions and the winners will be brought to the Capital Region to perform at the Winners’ Recital on Sunday.
  • There is no age requirement for any level of play.
  • Selections will be either composition for one-hand or arrangements for one-handed play.
  • There will be no use of pre-recorded material during the live performance for the YouTube auditions or competition video recording.
  • We would like to explore expanding the categories in The Brioso to reflect The Capriccio competition if there is enough interest expressed by competitors to include other instruments.

We will seek funding for transcriptions and arrangements for left arm/ hand impairment for right arm play. It would benefit pianists in that situation to expand that repertoire and to add to left-handed arrangements for 20th century music as well as 19th and 18th century compositions for all 3 levels of competition performance.

Please note: Each season Rosewood Fanning will select the category of competition event. Competition Category selections each year may have limited choices depending upon funding and other factors.

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