Robert Conquer, Trombone, 2020 OSM Manuvie

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The COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding, the past 12 months have been huge for 21-year-old Scarborough native Robert Conquer. In December, he won the $10,000 first prize at the OSM Competition, playing Henri Tomasi’s Trombone Concerto in the final round. “Between the immense stress of getting recordings made and organizing the competition around my school workload, along with the excitement and relief of advancing into the next rounds and winning in the end, during a pandemic no less, I had a great time experiencing the whole range of emotions,” he says.

In May, Conquer completed his third year at the Curtis Institute of Music and received the Presser Foundation Undergraduate Scholar Award for his efforts. He also “bit the bullet and blew most of [his]pre-OSM Competition savings” on a new Shires trombone. “This new horn plays like a dream compared to my well-used horn before,” he explains. He’s using it this summer as a participant in the National Youth Orchestra of Canada’s online training program.

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According to his longtime friend (and fellow Curtis student) Matthew Christakos, Conquer is “wise, compassionate, dedicated, yet always ready to have a good time.” They’re both involved in Curtis’s Residence Life program, where, Christakos says, “Robert always helped me (or anyone else on the team) organize around our goals and was the ‘man with the plan.’ [He] and I spent dozens, if not hundreds, of hours playing Minecraft together throughout the pandemic, as core members of the ‘Curtis Minecraft Team.’”

Robert Rowat, CBC Music, reprinted with permission from Top 30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians Under 30, 2021, 2021 edition

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