Christina Petrowska Quilico – Socan Article

CHRISTINA PETROWSKA-QUILICO: AN AWARD-WINNING CHAMPION OF CANADIAN MUSIC

Story by Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco | September 29, 2017

Original article 

When Ottawa-born pianist Christina Petrowska-Quilico was only 10 years old, she performed Joseph Haydn’s Concerto in D Major with Toronto’s Conservatory Orchestra – and amazed the audience. By the time she was a teen, the New York Times was using such descriptors for her talent and skill as Promethean, phenomenal, “dazzling virtuosity” and “playing to perfection.”

Quilico went on to become the extraordinary adult talent one imagines possible when listening to a child prodigy perform. The praise and accolades, including four JUNO nominations, have continued to flow throughout the almost six decades she’s been recording and performing a diverse repertoire of solo, orchestral and chamber music on four continents.

Quilico’s music travels to space
In 2006, the tribute to her talent went out of this world. One of her 50 albums, a recording of the piano concerto written by David Mott specifically for Quilico, debuted in outer spacewhen astronaut Steve MacLean took it with him on the space shuttle Atlantis. It became the first CD to put human music in the heavens. Quilico, who’s also a professor of piano performance and musicology at York University, walked into her class the morning the debut was reported in the news. “All the students were clapping,” she says. “I asked them what I had done. They said, ‘You didn’t see the newspaper?’  I had no idea. It was very exciting.”

The focus of her excitement now is in anticipation of her scheduled soloist performance of Claude Champagne’s piano concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and maestro Victor Feldbrill on Oct. 21 and 22, 2017, at Roy Thomson Hall. Curated by Feldbrill and called With Glowing Hearts, the program explores Canada’s rich history of classical composers.

“The concerto I’m playing was written in 1948 and it’s wonderful,” says Quilico, who’s performed more than 35 concertos. “I get to do flashy stuff, and romantic stuff, and it’s nice to be able to play music that reflects that era of Canadian music. I love all music, but I really love playing concerto. I get a real high with an orchestra.”

The concerts also bring together two of the most respected champions of Canadian contemporary composers: Feldbrill and Quilico, who has premiered more than 150 contemporary pieces, including the work of such renowned Canadian SOCAN member composers as Violet Archer and John Weinzweig. That devotion earned her the 2007 Friends of Canadian Music Award from the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) and the Canadian League of Composers. And in 2010 she received the inaugural Harry Freedman Recording Award for composers as a co-recipient with composer Constantine Caravassilis. “I’ve wanted to support Canadian music because there are so many wonderful composers who get lost by the wayside,” says Quilico, who’s been especially recognized for her virtuosity in interpreting challenging contemporary compositions.

PULL QUOTE: ““I’ve wanted to support Canadian music because there are so many wonderful composers.”

In turn, Canadian composers have been so taken with her interpretation of their works that many, including SOCAN members Mott, Larysa Kuzmenko, Steven Gellman and Heather Schmidt, have written music specifically for her. The late Ann Southam, known for her minimalist style, was another composer who trusted Quilico profoundly with her compositions. “I really fought to have her music in the beginning, because music has its flavour of the year and at the time, and in the 1980s the flavour wasn’t minimalist,” said Quilico. The two first collaborated in 1982 when Southam asked Petrowska Quilico to do a demo recording of Rivers. “I found it quite slow,” said Quilico. “I was seven or eight months pregnant at the time, so I figured she wouldn’t yell at a pregnant lady. I called her and said, ‘You know, I’ve changed your stuff around quite a bit.’ She said, ‘Well, let me hear it.’ She just loved it and said ‘You can do whatever you want with my music.’”

The two developed a 30-year friendship and collaboration. In 2018, Quilico will be releasing an album of Southam’s early work. “There are some really neat surprises that are going to happen on that album, and it shows the wealth of her creativity,” says Quilico – who, between teaching, performing, and recording, keeps a hectic schedule.

As of September 2017, Quilico had already performed more than half-a-dozen-times in the year, including a recital featuring the solo piano works by her late first husband, Michel-Georges Brégent, at the 50th anniversary celebration of Montréal’s Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec. She released Worlds Apart, a double-album recording celebrating Canadian composers. She’ll also give a concert of solos by women composers for Winnipeg’s Groundswell series, Global Sirens, on November 28, 2017.  And she’s working with David Jaeger, who’s setting to music a selection of poems she wrote in her youth.

It turns out the child prodigy was also a talented poet, whose work was published in the New York Times. “I did speak to one of the editors, who said, ‘You have to make up your mind. I love your writing, but if you go into writing, then you can’t also be a concert pianist,’” she says.

Luckily for Canadian composers and the classical music genre, Quilico chose to be a concert pianist. “I found playing was really easy so I just went along with it,” she says. “Music is sound and emotion and there are no boundaries. It’s always changing. I like it. It gives me a sense of adventure.”

Christina Petrowska Quilico in Socan Magazine

When Ottawa-born pianist Christina Petrowska-Quilico was only 10 years old, she performed Joseph Haydn’s Concerto in D Major with Toronto’s Conservatory Orchestra – and amazed the audience. By the time she was a teen, the New York Times was using such descriptors for her talent and skill as Promethean, phenomenal, “dazzling virtuosity” and “playing to perfection.”

Quilico went on to become the extraordinary adult talent one imagines possible when listening to a child prodigy perform. The praise and accolades, including four JUNO nominations, have continued to flow throughout the almost six decades she’s been recording and performing a diverse repertoire of solo, orchestral and chamber music on four continents.

Quilico’s music travels to space
In 2006, the tribute to her talent went out of this world. One of her 50 albums, a recording of the piano concerto written by David Mott specifically for Quilico, debuted in outer spacewhen astronaut Steve MacLean took it with him on the space shuttle Atlantis. It became the first CD to put human music in the heavens. Quilico, who’s also a professor of piano performance and musicology at York University, walked into her class the morning the debut was reported in the news. “All the students were clapping,” she says. “I asked them what I had done. They said, ‘You didn’t see the newspaper?’  I had no idea. It was very exciting.”

The focus of her excitement now is in anticipation of her scheduled soloist performance of Claude Champagne’s piano concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and maestro Victor Feldbrill on Oct. 21 and 22, 2017, at Roy Thomson Hall. Curated by Feldbrill and called With Glowing Hearts, the program explores Canada’s rich history of classical composers.

“The concerto I’m playing was written in 1948 and it’s wonderful,” says Quilico, who’s performed more than 35 concertos. “I get to do flashy stuff, and romantic stuff, and it’s nice to be able to play music that reflects that era of Canadian music. I love all music, but I really love playing concerto. I get a real high with an orchestra.”

The concerts also bring together two of the most respected champions of Canadian contemporary composers: Feldbrill and Quilico, who has premiered more than 150 contemporary pieces, including the work of such renowned Canadian SOCAN member composers as Violet Archer and John Weinzweig. That devotion earned her the 2007 Friends of Canadian Music Award from the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) and the Canadian League of Composers. And in 2010 she received the inaugural Harry Freedman Recording Award for composers as a co-recipient with composer Constantine Caravassilis. “I’ve wanted to support Canadian music because there are so many wonderful composers who get lost by the wayside,” says Quilico, who’s been especially recognized for her virtuosity in interpreting challenging contemporary compositions.

“I’ve wanted to support Canadian music because there are so many wonderful composers.”

In turn, Canadian composers have been so taken with her interpretation of their works that many, including SOCAN members Mott, Larysa Kuzmenko, Steven Gellman and Heather Schmidt, have written music specifically for her. The late Ann Southam, known for her minimalist style, was another composer who trusted Quilico profoundly with her compositions. “I really fought to have her music in the beginning, because music has its flavour of the year and at the time, and in the 1980s the flavour wasn’t minimalist,” said Quilico. The two first collaborated in 1982 when Southam asked Petrowska Quilico to do a demo recording of Rivers. “I found it quite slow,” said Quilico. “I was seven or eight months pregnant at the time, so I figured she wouldn’t yell at a pregnant lady. I called her and said, ‘You know, I’ve changed your stuff around quite a bit.’ She said, ‘Well, let me hear it.’ She just loved it and said ‘You can do whatever you want with my music.’”

The two developed a 30-year friendship and collaboration. In 2018, Quilico will be releasing an album of Southam’s early work. “There are some really neat surprises that are going to happen on that album, and it shows the wealth of her creativity,” says Quilico – who, between teaching, performing, and recording, keeps a hectic schedule.

As of September 2017, Quilico had already performed more than half-a-dozen-times in the year, including a recital featuring the solo piano works by her late first husband, Michel-Georges Brégent, at the 50th anniversary celebration of Montréal’s Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec. She released Worlds Apart, a double-album recording celebrating Canadian composers. She’ll also give a concert of solos by women composers for Winnipeg’s Groundswell series, Global Sirens, on November 28, 2017.  And she’s working with David Jaeger, who’s setting to music a selection of poems she wrote in her youth.

It turns out the child prodigy was also a talented poet, whose work was published in the New York Times. “I did speak to one of the editors, who said, ‘You have to make up your mind. I love your writing, but if you go into writing, then you can’t also be a concert pianist,’” she says.

Luckily for Canadian composers and the classical music genre, Quilico chose to be a concert pianist. “I found playing was really easy so I just went along with it,” she says. “Music is sound and emotion and there are no boundaries. It’s always changing. I like it. It gives me a sense of adventure.”

 

 

 

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.”

 

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.

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

Phil’s Review of Mozart: Sonatas and Variations for Piano and Violin

TOP_quilicoMozart: Sonatas and Variations for Piano and Violin Jacques Israelievitch, violin; Christina Petrowska Quilico, piano (Fleur de Son) http://www.a-vcoa.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=290418&module_id=131981&sl=561443509

This is Volume 1 in a series of Mozart works for piano and violin. Sadly, it must also be a memorial to the late violinist Jacques Israelievitch, who died of lung cancer last September 5th, less than two months after he and pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico completed the ambitious recording project. That the French-born Canadian violinist persisted in this endeavor in his final illness would be remarkable enough; what is amazing is that there is absolutely no evidence of infirmity in his performances, so full of the rhythms and colors of life, taut and firm, and always endowed with the warmth that Mozart requires. Petrowska Quilico proves the ideal partner for him, in recordings made in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall at York University in Toronto.

In this first volume in the series, we have a selection of Mozart‟s richest and most persuasive sonatas: K.380 in E-flat major, K.454 in B-flat major, and K.526 in A major. Chronologically, they are a study in the development of the genre, from what is basically a piano sonata with violin accompaniment to one in which the violin has clearly achieved an equal partnership. The slow movements, in particular, contain some of Mozart‟s most beautiful melodies. They are also different kinds of melodies. The Andante of K.380 has a haunting quality that is enhanced by chromatic inflections. The slow movement of K.454 is another Andante, but with more of the feeling of an Adagio, the violin now is entrusted with the prominent melody. Bold chromatic moduations add to its intriguing beauty. In K.526, the most mature sonata Mozart ever wrote, the slow movement, likewise an Andante, has an extended development, which was rare for the period. It even modulates for a while into A minor with no apparent hurry to end on the major key, traditionally the signal for the finale to begin. Mozart was evidently taken with the beguiling melody and in no haste to return to the main event. Israelievitch and Petrowska Quilico obviously enjoy the wealth of melody and the increasingly rich chromatic harmonies in these three works, so reminiscent in many ways of his writing in the operas with which they were contemporary, from Abduction from the Seraglio to The Marriage of Figaro. The joy of music making is evident in every single measure. Highly recommended. (If this CD doesn‟t win one of Canada‟s Juno Awards next April, there‟s no justice.) Phil’s review.