Christina Petrowska Quilico

In 2020, Canada’s Governor General named pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico to the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honors. She was cited “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. She received the 2007 Friends of Canadian Music Award from the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) and Canadian League of Composers, and in 2009 was selected as one of the CMC’s Ambassadors of Canadian music. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation named her one of “20 Can’t-Miss Classical Pianists of 2014” and one of “Canada’s 25 best classical pianists” in 2015.

 

Born in Ottawa, Canada, Petrowska Quilico was only 10 in her orchestral debut, playing the Haydn D major concerto with Toronto’s Conservatory Orchestra. She moved to New York when she was thirteen to study at the Juilliard School. At fourteen, sharing top prize with Murray Perahia in a concerto competition, she played Mozart’s K.488 in New York. The Times hailed her as a “promethean talent,” and in subsequent solo recitals as “an extraordinary talent with phenomenal ability… dazzling virtuosity,” playing “to perfection.” She has performed forty-five concertos with orchestra, twenty-two of them contemporary and twenty-three classical.

 

In recorded output, few artists can match Petrowska Quilico, particularly in the music of her time. Among her 50 plus albums are eight Canadian piano concertos on five CDs; and solo and chamber works by contemporary Canadian and international composers. Three feature the music of her first husband, Montreal composer Michel-Georges Brégent. She also recorded four albums and toured extensively with her second husband, the legendary Metropolitan Opera baritone Louis Quilico. Four of her albums of Canadian music have earned JUNO Awards nominations, three of them for concerto albums, and one for Glass Houses Revisited. This last is one of her five titles (seven albums) devoted to the piano music of Ann Southam, with whom her name is almost synonymous. Centrediscs’ all-time best seller, in 2014 the album was named one of “30 best Canadian classical recordings ever” by CBC Music. She salutes more women composers in her album Global Sirens. A visual artist as well, she has created artwork that adorns some of her album covers of the past decade, including this one.

 

Her traditional classical albums include solo works of Chopin, Liszt and the tangos of Ernesto Nazareth; and the complete Mozart violin and piano sonatas, recorded with violinist Jacques Israelievitch shortly before his passing in 2015. American Record Guide wrote, “This is how this music should be played. There is a feeling of freedom and ebullience in these performances that I attribute mainly to the wonderful Quilico, and she is one of the most satisfying pianists I have heard in this music.”

 

Concerts and tours have taken her across the United States and Canada, as well as 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.

Apart from her concert career, Christina Petrowska Quilico has taught for more than 40 years. At York University, Toronto, where she has worked since 1987, she is a Full Professor of Piano and Musicology. www.christinapetrowskaquilico.com

 

photo: Tim Leyes

 

 

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