Christina Petrowska Quilico

Petrowska Quilico gave recitals in Canada, the US, Europe, and the Middle East. In 1971, at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York, she played works of Gilles Tremblay, Stockhausen, and others. In 1973 at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris she performed Serge Garant's Pièce No.

Petrowska and Quilico
Christina Petrowska-Quilico with her husband, the late Louis Quilico. Following his death in 2000, Petrowska-Quilico established the Christina and Louis Quilico Fund to honour her husbands memory and to recognize young musicians (photo by André Leduc, courtesy Christina Petrowska-Quilico).
Petrowska-Quilico, Christina
Pianist Christina Petrowska-Quilico (photo by Tim Leyes, courtesy Christina Petrowska-Quilico).\r\n

Christina Petrowska Quilico

Christina (Elena) Petrowska Quilico (b Petrowska). Pianist, teacher, author, graphic artist, b Ottawa 30 Dec 1948; B MUS (Juilliard) 1968, M SC (Juilliard) 1970. Christina Petrowska studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music 1956-62 with Boris Berlin and made her debut at 15 at Town Hall, New York, with the Municipal Arts Orchestra. She continued her piano studies at the Juilliard School 1962-9 with Irwin Freundlich, Rosina Lhévinne, and Jeaneane Dowis. She also attended the New York City College and the Chamber Music School of Blue Hill, Maine, in 1966, the Aspen Music School in Colorado in 1969, the Internationale Ferienkurse in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1970, the Paris American Academy (where she was artist-in-residence) in 1968 and 1970, and La Sorbonne 1974-6. In addition she worked in Berlin with György Ligeti. She received nine grants from the Canada Council between 1964 and 1985, and one from the French government in 1975. Arthur Balsam and Ventsislav Yankoff were also among her teachers.


Petrowska Quilico gave recitals in Canada, the US, Europe, and the Middle East. In 1971, at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York, she played works of Gilles Tremblay, Stockhausen, and others. In 1973 at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris she performed Serge Garant's Pièce No. 2 (Cage d'oiseau), Michel Vinet's Métamorphose, and Geste by Michel-Georges Brégent. She gave several performances of Olivier Messiaen's Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus.

Petrowska Quilico performed on the ORTF (later Radio France) in 1968, at the Kiev Conservatory in 1971, with the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec in 1972, 1976, and 1984, at the National Arts Centre in 1975, in Carnegie Recital Hall and on various New York radio stations in 1977, as well as on the CBC. In 1978 she won a prize at the first international piano competition of the J.F. Kennedy-Rockefeller Foundation at the Kennedy Center in Washington. During the summer of 1985, under the auspices of the Department of External Affairs of Canada, she participated in eleven recitals in four countries in the Middle East. With the support of the Greek government, she made a tour of Greece in 1988 and the next year performed at the Music Festival of Athens; in 1998, she toured Taiwan and Hong Kong with the Taipei Philharmonic. In Canada, Petrowska Quilico performed with such orchestras as the Toronto Symphony, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Ottawa Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Esprit Orchestra, and orchestras in such smaller centres as Kitchener-Waterloo and Thunder Bay.

Her first husband was the composer Michel-Georges Brégent; in 1993 she married Louis Quilico. With her second husband, Petrowska Quilico gave joint recitals in Canada and the US 1993-8, and recorded several CDs.

Contemporary Repertoire

Although Classical and Romantic works have a place in her repertoire, she is chiefly a specialist in contemporary music. Petrowska Quilico was described by Claude Gingras as "an extraordinary specialist in unplayable modern music for piano" (Montreal La Presse, 10 Nov 1972). She has premiered numerous works, including Luis de Pablo's Affettuoso, Michel Vinet's Aleph, Marian Kouzan's Constructor, Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux's Assemblages, Michel Longtin's Deux rubans noirs pour Serge Garant, George Fiala's Concerto Cantata; piano concerti by Claudio Amrosini (Montreal 1994), Larysa Kuzmenko (at the 1996 Winnipeg New Music Festival), and Heather Schmidt (Kitchener, Ont, 2001); and works that were dedicated to her, including Paul Huebner's Ocotillo, Steven Gellman's Concerto, and Alexina Louie's Star-Filled Night. In 2002 Petrowska Quilico performed Boulez's First Piano Sonata in Toronto, with the composer in attendance.

Petrowska Quilico has been a noted champion of Canadian composer Ann Southam, introducing more than 100 of her works. In 2005, Petrowska Quilico gave the world premiere of Southam's Rivers, and in 2008 she premiered Pond Life (for solo piano and for piano and dancer) at the Sound Symposium in St. John's, NL; it resulted in a well-received recording of the same name in 2009. In 2010 Petrowska Quilico revised Southam's 1981 work Glass Houses, releasing the recording Glass Houses Revisited the following year. A book commemorating the life and work of Ann Southam was begun by Petrowska Quilico and composer Constantine Caravassilis in 2011.

Administration, Teaching, Art

In addition to her performance career, she was music director 1985-9 of the Ottawa concert society Espace musique, for which she gave several solo and chamber music recitals; and she served on the board of Opera Lyra 1984-5. She was a member of the Canada Council's planning committee for new music 1996-8. She taught at the Royal Conservatory of Music 1978-81, at Carleton University 1981-7, and at York University starting in 1987. She adjudicated at the Winnipeg New Music Festival, and coached at the Israel Vocal Arts Institute. Several exhibitions of her graphic art, including her "musicographical" poems on Boulez's Sonate No. 3 (which were approved by the composer), were held in Canada, the US, and France. Her poems have been published in several journals and newspapers. Some were collected in Go Away Sisyphus (New York 1971).

Honours and Awards

Petrowska Quilico was recognized with the Friends of Canadian Music Award in 2007, and in 2009 she was named one of 50 ambassadors of the Canadian Music Centre. A testament to progressive music making, her recording Virtuoso Piano Music of Our Time made its debut aboard the US space shuttle Columbia in 1992.


"Musical chairs and the new revolution," The Canada Music Book, 7, Autumn-Winter 1973

"The concept of Geste," The Canada Music Book, 9, Autumn-Winter 1974

"Pianists: a dime a dozen," Musicanada, 49, Jan 1983

Opera Illustrated: An Artistic Odyssey (Toronto 1994)

Mr. Rigoletto: In Conversation with Louis Quilico (Toronto 1996)

Selected Discography

Brégent Geste. 1976. RCI 409

Chopin and Liszt. 1998. Quilico baritone. Welspringe WELCD004-98

Debussy. 1998. Welspringe WELCD003-98

Hambraeus Sonate en trio. Donatel trombone, Petric accordion. 1990. CONA 3 (CD)

Jaeger Quivi Sospiri. Jaeger synthesizer. 1990. Trappist TRAP-9003 (CD)

Messiaen Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus (selections) - Debussy Préludes (selections). 1977. CBC SM-343

Mystic Streams. Gellman - Southam - Koprowski - Ligeti - Takemitsu. 1996. Welspringe WEL001

Northern Sirens. Southam - Louie - Kuzmenko - Schmidt - McIntosh. 1999. York YFA00999

Saint-Marcoux Assemblages - Vinet - Boulez - et al. 1973. RCI 396/(Saint-Marcoux) 5-ACM 18

Virtuoso Piano Music of Our Own Time. Southam - Cowell - Louie - Gershwin - Lieberman - Messaien. 1993. 1002 JLH

Gems with an Edge. Messaien - Brégent - Davidovsky - Boulez - Coulombe Saint-Marcoux. 2003. WEL 0007

Canadian Composers Portraits: Ann Southam. 2005. Centrediscs CMC CD 10505

Brégent 16 Portraits. 2005. Centrediscs CMC CD 10805

Ings. Louie - Messiaen - Boulez - Bryars et al. 2008. Welspringe WEL 0008

Southam Pond Life. 2009. Centrediscs CMC CD 1318

Southam Glass Houses Revisited. 2011. Centrediscs

Further Reading

  • Gessell, Paul. "The artist and the baritone," Ottawa Citizen, 11 Sep 1994

    Tuttle, Raymond. "Christina Petrowska: Renaissance woman and part-time lounge lizard," Fanfare, Jan-Feb 1999

    Canadian Who's Who 1997