YORKwrites: Spotlight on pianist Christina Petrowska-Quilico

YORKwrites, a joint presentation of York University Libraries and York University Bookstores, showcases and celebrates the breadth and depth of York’s scholarly, research and creative works. From now until Nov. 5, YFile and YORKwrites will shine a spotlight on various University authors, scholars, researchers and performers. Here is the first in a series.

Christina Petrowska-Quilico, a leading pianist and interpreter of 20th and 21st century music and a professor in the Department of Music in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, has just returned from performing the world premiere of “Soundstill: Ponds, Creeks and a Noisy River”. The composition is part of a new cycle of piano works written for her by Canadian composer Ann Southam. It was featured at the Sound Symposium music festival in St. John’s, Nfld. While at the Sound Symposium, Petrowska-Quilico also delivered the world premiere of another piece by Southam titled “Simple Forms of Inquiry” with dancer and choreographer Terrill Maguire, who teaches in York’s Department of Dance. 

Petrowska-Quilico said the premieres were well received. “People looked really happy and blissed-out when they left," she said. “It’s that kind of program – it’s spiritual. But it’s also complex playing and especially virtuosic for the left hand.”  

Renowned for her artistry in Canada and abroad, Petrowska-Quilico will perform “Soundstill” again on Oct. 7, this time at the Tribute Communities Recital Hall in the Accolade East building on York’s Keele campus. 

A talented artist, Petrowska-Quilico also enjoys making art in different media.  Her book titled, Opera Illustrated (1994), features drawings of various opera sets and portraits of world-renowned opera tenors including Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and her late husband Louis Quilico – a Canadian-born baritone with whom she toured and recorded.

While Petrowska-Quilico has performed and recorded a huge repertoire across a variety of musical genres, including those found on her new solo CD Ings (a compilation of CBC-recorded live performances), what she enjoys playing the most is what she grew up with – orchestral and chamber music. She made her concert debut with The Royal Conservatory of Music orchestra at age 10 and her New York City debut with the orchestra at the Town Hall at the age of 14.

“I love playing chamber music and I love performing with orchestra,” she said. “I think my favourite is playing piano concertos. I do love solo work, but it’s a lot more fun to play with somebody else.” 

Petrowska-Quilico will perform works from Ings as well as a work by Bill Westcott, who is also from York’s music department, on Aug. 25 at 12:15pm, at the Church of the Holy Trinity in downtown Toronto as part of the Music Mondays series. For more information call (416) 598-4521, ext. 222. 

Want your work included in the YORKwrites database? Visit the YORKwrites Web site and let organizers know about what you’ve published or created in the past year. The third annual YORKwrites reception takes place Nov. 5 at the Steacie Science & Engineering Library on York’s Keele campus.