Some composers write for themselves. Others write for a muse, a vessel for their genius. But when a composer and a performer develop true complicity, the writing happens with, not for, and both are enriched.
Pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico and composer Ann Southam enjoyed a 30-year personal and professional friendship that lasted until Southam’s death from lung cancer in 2010. Southam’s eventual complete shift from electronic to acoustic music was due in no small part to Petrowska Quilico’s influence; the two met in 1979 when the composer asked the pianist, who was teaching at York University and was already established as a champion of Canadian music, to record a demo.
“I remember thinking ‘boy, these tempo markings are really slow’,” Petrowska Quilico recalls. “I mean, it was one of the dullest things I’d ever played. At the time I was seven or eight months pregnant; I figured Ann couldn’t get…
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