Christina Petrowska Quilico launches the Faculty Concert Series tonight

York Professor Christina Petrowska Quilico, a renowned pianist and champion of Canadian music, will launch the Department of Music’s 2008-2009 Faculty Concert Series this evening at York. Her concert, titled "Pond Life", will feature the Toronto premiere of Creeks and Rivers, a new cycle of 17 solo piano movements written especially for her by noted Canadian composer Ann Southam.

The concert starts at 7:30pm in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, Keele campus. Single tickets are $15, students & seniors $5, while series tickets are $30 for a three-concert package. To purchase, call the box office at 416-736-5888 or visit the Box Office Web site.

Building on the success of an earlier collaboration titled Rivers, which Petrowska Quilico has performed internationally and released on a three-CD set, Creeks and Rivers marks a quarter century of musical partnership with Southam as well as a longstanding friendship.

Left: Christina Petrowska Quilico (left) and Ann Southam. Photo by André Leduc

“Ann and I met 25 years ago. She asked if I would record some of her repertoire, and that’s how it started. We had a good working relationship from the beginning. She is very open and I am flexible, and together we’re all about the music,” says Petrowska Quilico. “Since then, we’ve lived parallel lives, with various traumas and a lot of good times too, and we’ve become very good friends. The security of our friendship and our mutual trust encourages experimentation in our work together. That freedom is part of the reason I love playing her music.”

Half the fun of working on this project with Southam, says Petrowska Quilico, was coming up with the titles for the pieces. “Ann’s music is deeply inspired by nature, and the names in this cycle describe the pieces so well. There are three creeks, Commotion Creek, Fidget Creek and Fiddle Creek, and there is a Noisy River. I will book-end the recital with Spatial View of Pond 1 and Pond 2." Petrowska Quilico describes Creeks and Rivers as “90 minutes of virtuosic, introspective music. She gave the world premiere performance of the work this summer at the Sound Symposium in St. John’s NL. “People looked really happy and blissed-out when they left. It’s that kind of program – it’s spiritual.”

Petrowska Quilico has premiered and recorded numerous Southam compositions. Southam’s "Glass Houses" is one of Petrowska Quilico’s signature pieces, and she has included selections from that suite on three other solo albums: Virtuoso Piano Music of Our Own Time (1992), Northern Sirens (1998) and most recently, Ings, her 20th recording, released this spring by Centrediscs.

Prior to her 2005 recording of the entire Rivers series for Centrediscs’ Ann Southam – Canadian Composers Portrait, Petrowska Quilico featured excerpts of the work on her 1996 CD Mystic Streams.

"When Christina performed it, I loved the sound and what was happening as her hands interacted,” Southam said of her Rivers performance. “And I loved the little tunes and motifs that could be heard in the interaction between the hands. It takes a whiz-bang pianist to make those heard. I don’t know how she does it."

Widely recognized as an innovative and adventurous artist and a leading ambassador of the music of our time, Petrowska Quilico has appeared in solo recitals, chamber settings and with orchestras on four continents. Much in demand as an interpreter of contemporary music, she has premiered more than 100 works by eminent national and international composers. She has been a professor of piano performance and musicology at York since 1987.

Petrowska Quilico’s "Pond Life" is the first of five performances in the 2008-2009 Faculty Concert Series spotlighting faculty artists in the Department of Music at York. Upcoming concerts will feature drummer Trichy Sankaran (Oct. 27), jazz bassist Al Henderson (Jan. 13), violinist Jacques Israelievitch (Jan. 27) and pianist Dorothy de Val (Feb. 10).