Christina Petrowska-Quilico

2013 Adjudicator

Classical music (piano) 
Christina Petrowska-Quilico

Christina Petrowska-QuilicoPossessing passion and sensitivity, phenomenal technique and “dazzling virtuosity” (New York Times), pianist Christina Petrowska-Quilico is a compelling force, whether she is playing a Liszt piano solo, a Mozart chamber work, the Grieg concerto, or the premiere of a new work by a living composer.

Born in Ottawa, Canada, Petrowska-Quilico trained in the grand Russian and European traditions at Juilliard, and went on to studies in Paris and Germany with Ligeti and Stockhausen. Her professional career has taken her across the U.S. and Canada, as well as to Taiwan, the Middle East, France, Germany, Greece and Ukraine. She has appeared in recital in Carnegie, Alice Tully and Merkin Halls, and with most of Canada’s leading orchestras and the symphony orchestras of Greek Radio and Taipei. Some of these performances were with her husband, the late, famed Metropolitan Opera baritone Louis Quilico. She has premiered over 100 new works, most recently adding 10 new compositions by Constantine Caravassilis. Of the more than 35 concertos she has performed with orchestra, 18 were contemporary, and of these 10 were premieres. During her career, she also received coaching from composers Pierre Boulez and John Cage prior to performing their works.

In recent years, she has been closely associated with the piano music of Ann Southam (1937-2010), having recorded three major cycles of Southam’s music for Centrediscs and currently working on a fourth, as well as pieces in four other compilation CDs. She is credited for revising and editing for her recording of Southam’s Glass Houses Revisited, and received Southam’s enthusiastic blessing when Petrowska-Quilico performed them at the composer’s house less than two weeks before her death.

Few artists can match the recorded output of Petrowska-Quilico, particularly when it comes to contemporary music. Among the 30 CD titles she has recorded are five CDs of Canadian piano concertos; and solo and chamber works by Canadian and international contemporary composers, as well as such standard repertoire as Chopin, Liszt and Debussy, and two upcoming CDs of Brazilian tangos. One of her Canadian concerto recordings, David Mott’s Eclipse (written for her), debuted in outer space when astronaut Steve MacLean took it on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis. MacLean also took her recording of Alexina Louie’s Star-Filled Night (first featured on her CD Virtuoso Piano Music of our own Time) on his first mission on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1992.

Four of Petrowska-Quilico’s CDs of Canadian music have earned JUNO Awards nominations, three of them for concerto CDs, and one for Glass Houses Revisited. Petrowska-Quilico received the 2007 Friends of Canadian Music Award from the Canadian Music Centre and Canadian League of Composers, and together with composer Constantine Caravassilis was named winner of the 2010 Harry Freedman Recording Award, from the CMC’s Harry Freedman Fund.

Gifted as well in painting and writing, Christina Petrowska-Quilico was inspired by the music of Constantine Caravassilis to create some 100 canvases that visually expressed her bond with the music. A book of her art and writing, Opera Illustrated: An Artistic Odyssey, features her drawings of operatic legends and set designs. She is also author of Mr. Rigoletto: In Conversation with Louis Quilico (both published by Captus Press). Both were critically well-received.

Petrowska-Quilico also founded The Christina and Louis Quilico Award, to discover and encourage young operatic talent. It is administered by the Ontario Arts Council Foundation, and was most recently held under the auspices of the Canadian Opera Company.

In addition to her concert career, Christina Petrowska-Quilico is a Full Professor of Piano and Musicology at York University, Toronto.

* Photo: Marco Grazzini