"I'm looking to give everyone a wonderful musical experience, and perhaps a spiritual experience."
— Janina Fialkowska
Experience pianist Janina Fialkowska performing Six Lyric Pieces by Edvard Grieg, with these exclusive videos that CBC Music recorded live at the CBC/McGill Series in Montreal on Feb. 25, 2013.
Amazing to think that, just a decade ago, Fialkowska couldn't play the piano with two hands. Surgery on her left shoulder (to remove a cancerous tumour the size of a softball) had saved the respected concert pianist's life, but left her with a paralyzed arm, a cancelled European tour and an uncertain future.
Determined to keep performing, Fialkowska held on to a dozen or so engagements with various orchestras, replacing previously programmed repertoire with one-handed concertos by Ravel and Prokofiev.
Fialkowska also went back under the knife for an experimental muscle transfer procedure, which doctors hoped might restore some of her lost mobility. It did. She still can't lift her left arm above her shoulder or hold it out from her body, but the great miracle here is that it is absolutely fine for playing the piano, which she continues to do at the highest level.
Honoured with the 2012 Governor General's Performing Arts Award for lifetime achievement in classical music, and the award for best instrumental CD at the 2013 BBC Music Magazine Awards, Fialkowska has emerged from this whole experience a profoundly transformed artist, and an inspiration to anyone who has to face the impossible.
Watch more exclusive videos from Janina Fialkowska's CBC/McGill recital (recorded live at Pollack Hall in Montreal on Feb. 25, 2013) at CBC Music's Concerts on Demand, and keep on eye on CBC Classical for our feature documentary coming June 30.