The rivers run through her fingers

York music professor and internationally acclaimed pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico will give the world premiere performance of the entire 19-part Rivers cycle by celebrated Canadian composer Ann Southam at The Music Gallery on May 3 at 7:30pm.

Right: From left, Christina Petrowska Quilico and Anne Southam.  Photograph by André  Leduc

Virtuosic in the tradition of Chopin and Liszt, Rivers is a captivating collection of related pieces for solo piano. As Petrowska Quilico’s fingers make their way through these intricate and technically challenging minimalist works, the audience will be treated to an evocative musical experience that they can immerse themselves in.

Rivers provides the listener with an aural waterfall, effectively calming and exhilarating at the same time,” said Petrowska Quilico. “To me, it’s all about colour, texture, and ebb and flow …it’s wonderfully hypnotic.”

Hailed as a pre-eminent interpreter of the music of our time, Petrowska Quilico has consistently won rave reviews for her interpretive clarity and seamless technique. She has been described by critics as “an astonishing pianist” (The Toronto Star) and “dynamic … dramatic” (Los Angeles Times).

Southam echos the critics’ sentiments: “When Christina performed it (Rivers), I loved the sound and what was happening as her hands interacted. And, I loved the little tunes and motifs that could be heard in the interaction between her hands. It takes a ‘whiz-bang’ pianist to make those heard.”

Petrowska Quilico studied piano with the legendary Rosina Lhévinne at Juilliard in New York City, musicology at the Sorbonne in Paris, and composition with Gyorgy Ligeti and Karlheinz Stockhausen in Germany. She has devoted her career to bridging the gap between traditional and contemporary classical keyboard music, and has premiered many works written for her by leading Canadian and international composers. Her impressive discography encompasses classical repertory, 20th-century masterworks and new compositions.

Petrowska Quilico recently recorded Rivers in its entirety for the Canadian Composer Portraits series on Centrediscs (CMCCD 10505), the award-winning recording label of the Canadian Music Centre. The three-CD boxed set, produced by the CBC’s David Jaeger, includes a full-length documentary on Ann Southam by Etan Cornfield. The recording will be available for purchase at the concert, along with Petrowska Quilico’s new recording of another mammoth cycle, Portraits, by the late Michel-Georges Brégent.

Petrowska Quilico’s performance will be followed by a reception. Admission is $20 and $10 for students and seniors. The Music Gallery is located at St. George the Martyr Church, 197 John Street in downtown Toronto.

This story was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena, publicist, Faculty of Fine Arts.