In 2020, Canada’s Governor General appointed pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico to the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honors, “for her celebrated career as a classical and contemporary pianist, and for championing Canadian music.” It was the latest recognition for a lifetime devoted to her art. Amongst other honors, she has received the Friends of Canadian Music Award from the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) and Canadian League of Composers, and was selected one of the CMC’s Ambassadors of Canadian Music. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation named her one of “20 Can’t-Miss Classical Pianists” and, another year, one of “Canada’s 25 Best Classical Pianists.” In 2021, she was added to CBC Radio’s “In Concert Hall of Fame,” celebrating the greatest Canadian classical musicians of all time, past and present.
Born in Ottawa, Christina Petrowska Quilico was only 10 in her orchestral debut, playing the Haydn D Major Concerto with Toronto’s Conservatory Orchestra. At 13, she entered the Juilliard School. The next year, sharing top prize with Murray Perahia in a concerto competition, she was hailed by the New York Times as a “promethean talent,” and in subsequent solo recitals as “an extraordinary talent with phenomenal ability… dazzling virtuosity,” playing “to perfection.” She has since performed 45 concertos with orchestras, 22 of them contemporary and 23 classical.
Concerts and tours have since taken her across the United States and Canada, and to Taiwan, the Middle East, France, England, Germany, Greece, and Ukraine. She has appeared in recital in Carnegie, Alice Tully, and Merkin Halls, and in orchestral performances in the United States, Greece, and Taipei, and with most of Canada’s leading orchestras.
Few artists can match her recorded output. Among her 50 plus CDs are eight Canadian piano concertos on five albums and six Mozart concertos as well as solo and chamber works by contemporary composers. She also recorded four CDs and toured extensively with her second husband, legendary Metropolitan Opera baritone Louis Quilico. Four of her Canadian music CDs have earned JUNO Awards nominations, including one for Glass Houses Revisited – one of her five titles (seven discs) devoted to the music of Ann Southam, and Centrediscs’ all-time best seller. In 2014 Glass Houses Revisited was named one of “30 best Canadian classical recordings ever” by CBC Music. Her own visual art is featured on her more recent covers.
Her traditional classical CDs include solo albums of Chopin, Liszt, Tangos by Ernesto Nazareth, and the complete Mozart violin and piano sonatas, recorded with violinist Jacques Israelievitch, former concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony. “This is how this music should be played,” wrote American Record Guide. “There is a feeling of freedom and ebullience in these performances that I attribute mainly to the wonderful Quilico, …one of the most satisfying pianists I have heard in this music.” The second volume was one of American Record Guide’s Critic’s Picks in 2018.
Christina Petrowska Quilico is a Full Professor of Piano and Musicology at York University, Toronto. In 2021 she was one of the esteemed winners of York’s research annual research awards and was selected as a 2020 York Research Leader. A generous benefactor, she created the Christina & Louis Quilico Awards at the Ontario Arts Foundation, held every two years with the Canadian Opera Company.