LSM Newswire

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christina Petrowska Quilico Remembers Ann Southam

Photo: (l. to r.) Christina Petrowska Quilico, Ann Southam



The music of Canadian composer Ann Southam, who died Thursday, November 25, looms large in the recordings and live performances of pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico.

The two were close friends and collaborators for almost 30 years, with Petrowska Quilico having recorded Southam’s complete cycles, Rivers (2005) and Pond Life (2008) – both on Centrediscs. In two weeks, she plans to record a third major collection, Glass Houses Revisited, also for Centrediscs, and was working closely with the composer.

“The last time I saw Ann,” said Petrowska Quilico, “was on November 14, when I visited her and played the nine Glass Houses selections that I had chosen to record.” The next day, Southam had e-mailed her enthusiastic response:

“I'm still blown away by the way you play Glass Houses. They're your pieces, for sure!!! Not long after you left I listened to all of Pond Life, and it was a great pleasure.”

Although Southam insisted that Petrowska Quilico be credited as “co-creator” ofGlass Houses Revisited, Petrowska Quilico prefers to think of herself as “editor and reviser”. Southam had revised the 15 pieces of the cycle for Petrowska Quilico, who then chose nine and herself edited and revised them in the past two months.

Petrowska Quilico commented on the complexity of the scores: “The score is made up of patterns, numbers and melodies, and I had to make sure they came out right. They are fiendishly difficult, especially at the tempo. You need to count each pattern. Each hand plays a different pattern with a different meter. Ann wrote how she wanted them to end, but I had to work things out to ensure the correct number of repetitions.

“What made working with Ann special was her trust in me,” Petrowska Quilico summed up. On October 11, she emailed me regarding my changes to her score, saying, ‘I trust your musical judgment completely.’”

Recording Glass Houses Revisited will be a bittersweet experience for Petrowska Quilico: “I’m so used to having Ann in the recording studio, jumping up and down, and cheering me on. I will have to imagine she is there.”

The CD launch concert is scheduled for March 17 at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio.

In 2009, Petrowska Quilico was invited to perform Glass Houses #5 at a special concert at the National Arts Centre honoring the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Music Centre. The performance was included in La Scena Musicale’s Top 10 list for 2009, as was her Pond Life recital in the Toronto Star.

Petrowska Quilico has previously recorded Glass Houses #5 on her CDs Ings(Welspringe) and Northern Sirens (York Fine Arts. Her other Southam recordings appear on her CDs Mystic Streams (Welspringe), and Virtuoso Piano Music of Our Own Time (JLH).

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