Bob Cumming, Hometown News:
“The Maestro’s (Stephen Bruce) conducting was flawless and can be likened to that of Robert Shaw…The dynamic contrasts were dramatic, the coloring of the vowels and use of consonants resulted in rich tones and crisp intonation, whether the language was the highly musical Latin, or the more challenging German or English. The acoustics of the church were just right for this 40 voice chorus of experienced singers. Community choruses of three times the number don’t muster the warm and bright fortissimos for which Con Brio is known. This conductor’s group closes on its diphthongs together, utilizes attacks and releases of consonants without disturbing the full beauty of Italianate vowels, breathes and sings in phrases in utmost togetherness, knows when (and when not) to breathe, and – most importantly – sings with beauty and feeling.”
“World-class Maestro, Stephen D. Bruce…is given a well-auditioned choral group to mold into shape and is doing so with graciousness and expertise. The choral effects were all there…with a near perfect blend on sublime pianissimos contrasting with bright and clarion sound. Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata…was performed with verve, conviction and clarity of tone.”
“Con Brio, led by Stephen Bruce, gives some of the most interesting programs of choral and orchestral music I have ever experienced. Every concert in which I perform (or attend) is illuminating and moving. I always learn something new.
Last year, I had the pleasure of performing with Con Brio as tenor soloist in Puccini Messa di Gloria. What an uplifting experience! My career has taken me around the world to incredible venues such as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. My performance with regional choruses like Con Brio however, are always the most meaningful. Con Brio is clearly a vital part of Southern Connecticut’s cultural scene and the community is truly better for it.”
“When I was judging instrumental and vocal contests around the country, once in a while a contestant would be so good that I would have to write on the criticism sheet, “What can I say?” That same thing applies to Con Brio! What a remarkable performance! And, your director is very brave to program such difficult music although he was certainly in control and the chorus was technically capable of handling the unusual intervals and difficult rhythms throughout. I believe the most impressive feature of the performance was the style demonstrated both by the singers and the instrumentalists. The conductor has an amazing comprehension of this music. It is an interesting thought, but I think it would be difficult to get such energy, emotion and musical thoroughness from a “professional” chorus. And the soprano soloist, “What can I say?”