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In my early teens I was given the score of Mozart's Coronation Concerto by my teacher, Olga Rizzardo Normanha. She had plans for me -- big plans. I had never been to a performance where there was a soloist with an orchestra before. I had never heard a Mozart piano concerto by that time. Mind you, I come from a (then) small town in Brazil called Campinas which had (still standing) an orchestra!

There were pianists who came to give recitals in Campinas: Guiomar Novaes (who had been a child prodigy and studied with isidore Philippe at the Paris Conservatoire, and who was praised by Claude Debussy himself!!!), there was Estelinha Epstein (a student of Arthur Schnabel, no less), Bernard Segal (who later became ultra-famous in the US). EvenJörg Demus came to Campinas and was invited to our home.

But -- no, no piano concerti.... So, upon seeing the score, I was at the same time delighted that it was in D major, having only two sharps to deal with... adn puzzled by the fact that there were a great deal of notes I was not supposed to play... I thought -- from the high seat of a ten year old with a very angry teacher to deal with -- great! --- less work for me.

I did learn it. And rather quickly, my teacher announced to me that I was to be the soloist with the orchestra in town -- I was ecstatic! What a great way to make music and share it with so many people! Already then I saw this opportunity of playing with an orchestra as a great chamber music affair! And not the so called competition between soloist/conductor/orchestra -- that would come in much later in my life! The Maestro was to be the great Armando Belardi, and Italian known for his opera conducting, a very exact and demanding conductor coming from the city of São Paulo - no less -- the great capital of the State, which, together with the city of Rio de Janeiro were the most culturally active centers of Brazil (they are still, with great rivalry between them).

So -- until now I gave you a long introduction. I shall give you a glimpse of the Coda: it was a great success, and I was asked to repeat it with the same conductor, different orchestra very soon afterwards, this time at the Teatro Municipal de São Paulo -- a beautiful turn of the century Theater, built à la Française - "Opéra de Paris" style -- in a directly televised broadcast! This was truly amazing!

I have learned a very hard lesson with Maestro Belardi:

For the second rehearsal, I was peacefully and dreamily practicing at home, waiting for my mother to take me to the first rehearsal. I had no watch, and lost track of time which so often happened while practicing (it still does). My mother hastily rushed me out of my practicing daydreams at the piano and the Mozart score. I arrived all flushed and rushed to the rehearsal. Upon arrival, I immediately went on stage to the piano. All eyes were on me and on the Maestro. He gave me a stern speech. I remember not even looking at him, but only at the keyboard - this beautiful concert grand piano - asking forgiveness from this instrument... and wanting to disappear far away into its body, or far away into the earth. The feeling of shame was very strong and permeated the whole rehearsal.

I was never ever late again -- then, or later in my life!

Luckily for me, Maestro Belardi was an outstanding musician and human being. I had a great time making music with this orchestra and him conducting. This relationship with the Campinas Musical Symphony Orchestra was a long lasting one! Viva Mozart!

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