Possessing passion and sensitivity, phenomenal technique and “dazzling virtuosity” (New York Times), pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico is a compelling force, whether she is playing a Liszt piano solo, a Mozart chamber work, the Grieg concerto, or the premiere of a new work by a living composer. CBC Music named her one of 20 Can’t-Miss Classical Pianists of 2014.
Born in Ottawa, Canada, Petrowska Quilico trained in the grand Russian and European traditions at Juilliard, and went on to studies in Paris and Germany with Ligeti and Stockhausen. Her professional career has taken her across the U.S. and Canada, as well as to Taiwan, the Middle East, France, Germany, Greece and Ukraine. She has appeared in recital in Carnegie, Alice Tully and Merkin Halls, and with most of Canada’s leading orchestras and the symphony orchestras of Greek Radio and Taipei. Some of these performances were with her husband, the late, famed Metropolitan Opera baritone Louis Quilico.
She has premiered some 150 new works. Of the more than 35 concertos she has performed with orchestra, 18 were contemporary, 10 of these premieres. During her career, she also received coaching from composers Pierre Boulez and John Cage prior to performing their works.
Glass Houses Volume 2 – launched April 2014 at the Canadian Music Centre – represents her sixth CD and fourth album title devoted to the piano music of Ann Southam (1937-2010). As with this set, the previous three feature major cycles of Southam’s music for Centrediscs: Rivers (Canadian Composers Portraits: Ann Southam, CMCCD 10505), Pond Life (CMCCD 14109), and Glass Houses Revisited (CMCCD 16511). She is credited for revising and editing on her recording of Southam’s Glass Houses Revisited, and received Southam’s enthusiastic blessing after performing them at the composer’s house shortly before Southam’s death. The album has become one of Centrediscs’ all-time best sellers. She has also included Southam pieces in four general compilation CDs.
In 2012, she performed selections from Southam’s Rivers cycle live for Toronto Dance Theatre’s premiere of Christopher House’s work of the same title, and again in Oakville ON and St. John’s NL – a collaboration she repeated in a 2014 Canadian Maritime tour to Halifax, Fredericton and Saint John.
Open to musical adventures and collaborations, she was one of nine virtuosi in Soundstreams’ eclectic Piano Ecstasy extravaganza at Toronto’s Koerner Hall in 2013. The Shostakovich Concertino for Two Pianos was “brilliantly performed by two of the great pianists of our time, the Gryphon Trio’s Jamie Parker and the wonderful Christina Petrowska Quilico,” wrote Robert Harris in the Globe and Mail.
In a duo with violinist Jacques Israelievitch, she performs a variety of repertoire ranging from the Mozart violin sonatas to present-day composers.
In recorded output, few artists can match Petrowska Quilico, particularly in contemporary music. Among her 36 CDs are five albums comprising eight Canadian piano concertos; and solo and chamber works by contemporary Canadian and international composers, along with the likes of Chopin and Debussy; Tangos Brasileiros, for the 150th anniversary of composer Ernesto Nazareth in 2013; and her highly-praised Liszt bicentennial CD (“Quilico plays exquisitely…brilliance without ego” – Fanfare Magazine).
Her music is sometimes literally out of this world. Her recording of David Mott’s world music inspired concerto Eclipse (written for her), debuted in outer space when astronaut Steve MacLean brought it on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis. MacLean also took her recording of Alexina Louie’s Star-Filled Night on his first mission on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1992.
Four of Petrowska Quilico’s CDs of Canadian music have earned JUNO Awards nominations, three of them for concerto CDs, and one for Glass Houses Revisited. Petrowska Quilico received the 2007 Friends of Canadian Music Award from the Canadian Music Centre and Canadian League of Composers, and together with composer Constantine Caravassilis was named winner of the 2010 Harry Freedman Recording Award, from the CMC’s Harry Freedman Fund.
That award resulted in the well-received January 2013 launch of her Centrediscs two-CD set of Caravassilis’ Visions: The Complete Books of Rhapsodies & Fantasias. Also a gifted painter, Petrowska Quilico was inspired by the music to create some 100 canvases, which are now projected in synch with her live performances of the work.
Petrowska Quilico’s writing talent and art come together in her book Opera Illustrated: An Artistic Odyssey, featuring her drawings of operatic legends and set designs. She is also author of Mr. Rigoletto: In Conversation with Louis Quilico (both published by Captus Press and critically well-received).
Petrowska Quilico also founded The Christina and Louis Quilico Award, to discover and encourage young operatic talent. It is administered by the Ontario Arts Council Foundation, and was most recently held under the auspices of the Canadian Opera Company.
In addition to her concert career, Christina Petrowska Quilico is a Full Professor of Piano and Musicology at York University, Toronto.
“A promethean talent” … “An extraordinary talent with phenomenal ability...dazzling virtuosity” ~The New York Times
“An astonishing pianist.” ~The Toronto Star
“Dynamic...Dramatic...Profiled expressiveness.” ~Los Angeles Times
York University profile: http://www.yorku.ca/finearts/faculty/profs/petrows/petrows.htm