Yorkville’s Christina Petrowska Quilico tackles life and death in Worlds Apart

Two-CD album an homage to fallen colleagues

Christina-leg-up-on-piano-by-Bo-Huang-55

PHOTO COURTESY BO HUANG

STORMY NIGHT: Christina Petrowska Quilico launched Worlds Apart in April as an homage to some of her fallen colleagues.

Engage Christina Petrowska Quilico in a conversation about the creative arts, and she’ll take you on a tour of her paintings in her Yorkville home.

Two of those paintings, Light and Dark, were used in crafting the cover of her two CD album, World Apart.

“I do a lot of painting. It’s important to have this inter-relation of arts,” she says, with a teacup Yorkie in her lap. A pug runs around at her feet, adding a splash of grey on a white-on-white décor.

Mixing arts is the foundation of her work these days. Worlds Apart pays tribute to both literature and the classic composers. Those arts provided the inspiration.

The first CD is Classics with a Twist, and features the romantic, light side of her piano work. Compositions by John Rea, Peter Paul Koprowski and Steven Gellman. The second CD is Worlds Apart, the same as the collection, and features works by David Jaeger, Michel-Georges Brégent, Patrick Cardy, Diana McIntosh and Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux. It’s the dark half to the first.

Petrowska Quilico shares a happy anecdote about her late mother sharing a moment with Koprowski when he paid Quilico a visit. Being of Ukrainian, Polish and Hungarian ancestry, her mother could speak with Koprowski, who was Polish.

“Before he came, but I used to play pieces for her and she had the best objective criticism. She either got or she didn’t,” Quilico recalls. “She said that sounds a lot like Chopin.”

Of course, Koprowski’s piece is “Rhapsody on a Theme of Brahms”, so Petrowska Quilico shrugged it off.

“My mother chatted with him in Polish, and they’re both looking at me smiling, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, no’,” she says. “And then the composer said to me, ‘You know your mom is right, it is Chopin’.”

There are plenty of stories from her past that bubble to the surface, and are pleading to be told. She restrains herself, but remembers the highlights.

She performs one song, “Geste” by her first husband, Brégent, who died at the age of 45.

Cardy and Saint-Marcoux are two other composers, and close friends, who died young.

She falls into a rueful moment, remembering another fallen colleague Jacques Israelievitch, as the two had recorded plenty of sonatas during Fancies and Interludes. More music will be released from the seven and a half hour sit down, which was first launched in June, 2015.

“I was glad to have continued with Mozart,” she said.

She’ll be performing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which will be another tough moment, as the last time she performed Israelievitch was the concertmaster.

Still, she’s warm in knowing she’s accomplished her homage to some of her friends and past collaborators.

“What I enjoy is doing things by hand. My art is not working with computers, but with hands,” she says. “There needs to be something said about just the purity of music, and just reading a book.”

 

LaScena Worlds Apart Album Review

Christina Petrowska Quilico: Worlds Apart (Centrediscs)

MyScena

Worlds Apart
Christina Petrowska Quilico
Centrediscs, 2017. CMCCD 23717, 2 CD. 88 min 13 s.

 

Christina Petrowska Quilico dropped a new album today – a cross-section of Canadian piano repertoire – that features a wide variety of post-modern compositional techniques. In this two-CD set, the first disc is entitled Classics with a Twist – a way to dip your big toe in the pool before jumping in headfirst in the second. With overt references to the titans of Romantic piano repertoire – Schumann, Brahms, and Chopin – Rea, Koprowski, and Gellman dish up the familiar in surprising ways. The second CD features the namesake of the collection, Worlds Apart by Diana McIntosh, as well as “edgier” and darker works by David Jaeger, Michel-Georges Brégent, Patrick Cardy,Diana McIntosh, and Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux.

John Rea’s Las Meninas – named after a Velázquez painting that depicts the aritst in the act of capturing the likeness of Philip IV and his wife, Mariana of Austria who are only seen reflected in a mirror – is a series of 21 variations in 13 movements on Schumann’s “Scenes from Childhood.” Each a slight view into a different perspective of composers past and present, the variations achieve a lot with very little. The second homage in the set is to fellow Canadian composer Alexina Louie directly quotes Debussy’s “Pagodes.” An allusion to her Chinese heritage, perhaps? Though, I have to admit that’s when I gave up the game – aside from the obvious and often literal references, I don’t have nearly an encyclopedic enough knowledge of piano repertoire to trace the origin of every thread found in Rea’s rich tapestry. Petrowska Quilico has a wonderful touch in these miniatures, an intrinsic understanding of voicing that lends itself well to creating each atmosphere with due expediency.

Published around the same time, Peter Paul Koprowski’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Brahms was premiered by Petrowska Quilico at the Winnipeg New Music Festival back when she was known only by one name. The Brahms theme, his Lullaby, is well-hidden in the weeds of elaborate neo-Romantic Chopinesque figurations, handily executed by Petrowska Quilico without becoming too overwrought. Written for Angela Hewitt, Steven Gellman’s Fantasia on a Theme by Schumann has a French air to it like the previous two works, but has much more in common with the overtly pianistic Rhapsody than Rea’s take on Schumann. It’s also the darkest of the three, with tremolo bass that leads well into the second disc.

David Jaeger’s Quivi Sospiri for piano and synth, composed in the ‘70s but revised in 2014, is a dark and otherworldly depiction of Canto 3 of Dante’s Inferno, in which there is no light but only sound. Geste by Petrowska Quilico’s late first husband, Michel-Georges Brégent, is an aleatoric work with graphic notation and mobiles reminiscent of Alexander Calder that resists fixity with broad dramatic gestures. Cardy’s The Masks of Astarte draws on the myth of the ancient Middle Eastern goddess of fertility, who some believe was the prototypical Virgin Mary. The masks here are fleeting glimpses of truth, musical lines that point to something larger but which turn away at the last moment and become something else entirely.

Diana McIntosh’s Worlds Apart also evokes the celestial with water-droplets of colour that gain a compelling rhythmic vitality before gradually receding into the same ether from which it emerged, barring the abrupt perfect fifth ending devoid of a tonal centre. The final piece, Assemblages by Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux is taken from a 1972 archival recording of Petrowska Quilico at a SMCQ concert. With indeterminate pitch and rhythmic elements, it is in much of the same spirit as Geste and is very evocative of Morton Feldman’s work.

Though all the pieces featured in this collection are Canadian works and “contemporary” by most standards, I found it stunning I am the same age or younger than each. Yet, in several cases, Petrowska Quilico is still the only recording artist to devote studio time to these works, all of which deserve second, third, multiple hearings. For this, the collection is not only a great service to the Canadian musical landscape, but a testament to Petrowska Quilico’s sweeping vision.

 

ICI Musique Worlds Apart Review

Par
Frédéric Cardin

Christina Petrowska Quilico : championne du piano 100% canadien

Christina Petrowska Quilico
Album: WORLDS APART

La pianiste canadienne Christina Petrowska Quilico aime bien surprendre le public avec des choix de programmes musicaux qui sortent des sentiers battus. C’est le cas avec son nouvel album Worlds Apart, sorti sous étiquette Centredisques et où elle nous fait découvrir un tas de compositeurs Canadiens, encore peu connus dans le grand public en général.

Christina Petrowska Quilico: Fantasia on a Theme of Schumann

Christina Petrowska Quilico (elle a été mariée au baryton Louis Quilico, duquel elle a conservé le nom) a fait de la musique contemporaine canadienne une spécialité. Elle est une musicienne très sensible, en plus de posséder une solide technique, ce qui en fait une interprète recherchée par nos créateurs. Qui plus est, elle est manifestement passionnée par la nouvelle musique, ce qui s’entend tout de suite quand on l’écoute jouer.

L’album est double. Sur le premier disque, un concept qui sert de ligne directrice : la musique de compositeurs romantiques revisitée par des contemporains canadiens. Las meninas de John Rea en est le pilier principal. Il s’agit d’une reprise des fameuses Scènes d’enfants de Robert Schumann, où chaque morceau se retrouve traité selon le style musical d’un autre compositeur (de Chopin à Glass en passant par Vivier, Stravinsky et bien d’autres). L’idée est géniale, et agit comme une sorte de mise en abîme musicale à 3 niveaux : John Rea revisite un tas de compositeurs qui « revisitent » Robert Schumann.

On a aussi une Fantaisie sur un thème de Brahms de Peter Paul Koprowski et une deuxième, la Fantaisie sur un thème de Robert Schumann (encore!), par Steven Gellman.

Si le 1er disque met de l’avant des esthétique se situant au carrefour du modernisme et du romantisme, le 2e fait place à des œuvres enracinées dans l’atonalisme contemporain.

Quilico est une artiste totalement engagée dans sa passion de mieux faire connaître les compositeurs d’ici. C’est une passion que je partage entièrement. Des artistes comme elle, et des albums comme celui-ci, sont essentiels. Merci.

Christina Petrowska Quilico sera en concert au festival Montréal Nouvelles Musiques (MNM) le 4 mars. Elle y interprétera la musique du Québécois Michel-Georges Brégent.

TheWholeNote Worlds Apart Review

02 Worlds Apart

Worlds Apart
Christina Petrowska Quilico
Centrediscs CMCCD 23717

This album can be purchased here.

Canadian pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico unleashes the eight works here with such immediacy that she creates a special kind of pianistic excitement. Her technique is brilliant, and her imagination boundless. But it’s not just the thrill of the keyboard that drives her – above all you feel the fierce conviction that underlies her vision of each composer’s score.

This is the latest release in Petrowska Quilico’s ongoing recording project covering works from the Canadian piano repertoire. It’s as though she’s out to singlehandedly show just how rich it is. These works were written during a period of just over 20 years, from 1969 to 1992. They all, more or less directly, invoke historical sources – musical, literary or visual.

Peter Paul Koprowski’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Brahms and Steven Gellman’s Fantasia on a Theme of Robert Schumann take full advantage of Petrowska Quilico’s virtuosity. Koprowski gives the elements of Brahms’ Lullaby a Chopinesque treatment, only gradually revealing the familiar theme, while Gellman introduces his theme, from the slow movement of Schumann’s Piano Quintet, then lavishes embellishments.

In Las Meninas, John Rea follows the structure of his source, Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood. But he filters it through his viewing of Velázquez’s iconic, complex painting, Las Meninas by recasting Schumann’s 13 movements in various composers’ styles – Romanticism, impressionism, minimalism, jazz, and so on. Petrowska Quilico has a field day.

Her energy infuses Patrick Cardy’s mythologically based The Masks of Astarte with narrative force. In contrast, her incisive control allows a sense of space to envelop Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux’s lyrical yet monumental Assemblages like a multidimensional sculpture (I thought of Anthony Caro’s works currently on display at the AGO).

In Quivi Sospiri by David Jaeger (who produced this set, and whose writings appear in this magazine), Petrowska Quilico is joined by computer-generated sounds. The rhapsodic yearnings of the piano confront the ominous electronics, then blend in a moving evocation of the sounds that swirl around the hopeless souls condemned to darkness in Dante’s Inferno.

Diana McIntosh’s atmospheric Worlds Apart, which gives this collection its title, weaves a shimmering fabric of intricate patterns. But it’s Geste by Michel-Georges Brégent, Petrowska Quilico’s first husband, who died in 1993, that forms the spiritual heart of this set – especially in the way he invites the performer’s interventions in shaping what happens and when. Brégent’s own description likens his score, mounted on a scroll, to a Calder mobile. In PQ’s hands the sense of urgency never lets up, even in the contemplative passages.

This set certainly showcases Petrowska Quilico’s talents, including her talent as a painter. The painting by her on the booklet cover, called Other Worlds – Light and Dark, beautifully sets the tone for this terrific collection.

Worlds Apart CD Launch on April 7th at 5pm at the Canadian Music Centre

 

Centrediscs CD Launch: Worlds Apart

Friday, April 7, 2017
5:00 PM

Canadian Music Centre

 

Pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico launches her new 2 disc CD Worlds Apart at the CMC in Toronto. A short performance will follow.

$FREE with RSVP. Please RSVP here

 

Event details

  • Venue / Location: Canadian Music Centre, 20 St. Joseph St., Toronto
  • Date: April 7th, 2017
  • Time: 5:00pm
  • Price: $FREE with RSVP
  • External Link: Please RSVP here

Christina Petrowska Quilico performs works by Michel-Georges Brégent

Concerts / Brégent: Portraits romantiques (1966, version 1988 / extraits)

In the words of Michel-Georges Brégent “The link between emotions and the mathematical is not very obvious. I discovered this to be true in creating Portraits pour piano. I still needed a dramatic rise with a pianist playing as though they were simultaneously 6 pianists playing at once. At some point, I intuitively hit a ceiling… using mathematics, I managed to make this man walk one step further. I also realized that if we speak about an emotion as love, (…) in music this can be expressed mathematically… Express oneself. Express one’s freedom and subjectivity. Extract the coldness and the yoke of rationality and structural “parametric” thought where everything is subject to analysis. These Portraits for the piano draw or depict states yet to be, illustrate social situations, occupations and jobs. They are the logical result complimenting the transcendental executions of Liszt and Liapunov, and the studies of Chopin, Scriabine and Rachmaninoff.”

March 4, 2017    7:00 pm

  • Regular: $20.00
  • Senior: $15.00
  • Student: $15.00
  • Tickets: 514-843-9305 #301 (SMCQ)
Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur
100, rue Sherbrooke Est
métro Sherbrooke + autobus 24 Ouest / métro Saint-Laurent + autobus 55 Nord
 

Participant

Program

Coproduction MNM/ Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur

2017 Christina and Louis Quilico Awards Vocal Competition

 

News Release 

2017 Christina and Louis Quilico Awards Vocal Competition

Toronto – January 30, 2017 – The Ontario Arts Foundation is pleased to announce the fourth biennial Christina and Louis Quilico Awards Vocal Competition featuring the rising young stars of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio.

cocsingers

Artists of the 2016/2017 Ensemble Studio, photo: Bronwen Sharp

The competition will take place on February 13, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. The competition will be adjudicated by a panel composed of Alexander Neef, General Director of the COC, Sandra Horst, Chorus Master of the COC, and Adrianne Pieczonka, Canadian soprano opera singer. The young artists featured in the February 13th competition will perform for cash prizes singing one aria of their choice and one aria selected by the judges.

“Louis had wanted to establish this (award) before he died,” says Christina Petrowska Quilico. “It was really his vision to help young opera singers. Launching an award was something we could do to leave a legacy in memory of Louis’ success as a singer and as a support to future generations.”

 

This event is free and open to the public, with doors opening at 5 p.m. Seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and is limited.

 

About the COC Ensemble Studio

The COC Ensemble Studio is Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals. Since the inception of the program in 1980, over 220 young professional Canadian singers, opera coaches, stage directors and conductors have acquired their first major professional operatic experience through the Ensemble Studio. Former members include Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, John Fanning, Wendy Nielsen, Joseph Kaiser, David Pomeroy, Allyson McHardy, and Krisztina Szabó.

 

The members of the Ensemble Studio are the COC’s resident artists and important ambassadors for the company. They receive a blend of advanced study and practical experience through an individually tailored, multi-year program, involving understudying and performing mainstage roles, intensive vocal coaching, language and acting studies, and career skills development, as well as participation in masterclasses with internationally renowned opera professionals.

 

 

About the Christina and Louis Quilico Awards

Christina Petrowska-Quilico established the Christina and Louis Quilico Fund in 2000 to honour her late husband, renowned baritone, Louis Quilico, and to recognize outstanding young singers, pianists and composers for voice. During his 45 years on the stage, Louis Quilico shared performing credits with Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, José Carreras, Joan Sutherland and Renata Tebaldi. He was instrumental in furthering the careers of many young singers through his teaching and master classes. The Ontario Arts Foundation manages the endowment that funds the Christina and Louis Quilico Awards.

 

For information, please contact:

Alan Walker,

Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation
Tel: (416) 969-7413
awalker@arts.on.ca

Kristin McKinnon,

Publicist and Publications Coordinator, Canadian Opera Company

Tel: (416) 306-2383

kmckinnon@coc.ca

 

 

Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2016-2017, the OAF paid over $3.0 million in endowment income and $300,000 in awards and scholarships.

 

Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The COC enjoys a loyal audience support-base and one of the highest attendance and subscription rates in North America. Under its leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC is increasingly capturing the opera world’s attention. The COC maintains its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation by creating new productions within its diverse repertoire, collaborating with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracting the world’s foremost Canadian and international artists. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world. For more information on the COC, visit coc.ca.

.

 

Ce document existe également en français.