LSM Newswire

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Christina Petrowska Revisits Ann Southam's "Glass Houses"

CD Launch Concert Thursday, March 17 at Glenn Gould Studio



Pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico performs a recently revised major work by composer Ann Southam (1937-2010), at the launch concert for her latest CD, Glass Houses Revisited, Thursday, March 17, 2011, 7:30 p.m. at the Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front Street West, Toronto.

Tickets, $25; $20 seniors and students, are available from the Roy Thomson Hall box office,, or by calling 416-872-4255. (Tickets will be available at the Glenn Gould Studio box office two hours before the concert.)

The Canadian Music Centre is releasing the Glass Houses Revisited CD on its Centrediscs label. This will be the 24th CD released for Petrowska Quilico, among 27 already recorded.

Christina Petrowska Quilico’s 25th CD will also launch at the March 17 concert. The Liszt Anniversary Collection (Welspringe label) includes well-known pieces, operatic paraphrases, and later works for the Liszt bicentennial. Patrons purchasing the Glass Houses Revisited CD at the concert will also receive a complimentary copy of the Liszt.

Both CDs were recorded at the Glenn Gould Studio and produced by David Jaeger.


“Fiendishly difficult ‘etudes’” is how Petrowska Quilico describes the nine selections that she and the composer chose from Southam’s 1981 Glass Houses. She compares the cycle of entirely fast pieces to the lightning-speed fingering of Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes and the complexity of Bach’s counterpoint, while containing “no indications of dynamics, phrasing, fingering, pedaling, or other directions in the score.”

Southam had revised the complete set of 15 for her in 2009, and then – with her support and encouragement, Petrowska Quilico revised and edited them in 2010. She played the newly reworked Glass Houses Revisited for Southam only a few days before the composer’s death.

“She loved all my changes and wanted me to be added as ‘co-creator’,” said Petrowska Quilico. “Much as I was touched by her trust in me, I agreed to be credited with only editing and revising. Her exquisite and luminous creations are her very own.”

On November 15, 2010, in one of her last emails to Petrowska Quilico, Southam wrote: “I’m still blown away by the way you play Glass Houses. They’re your pieces, for sure!!!”

Ann Southam, a leading composer of minimalist music, and a trail-blazer amongst Canadian women composers, died November 25, 2010 after a two-year struggle with cancer. She had been working on the program notes for the CD, and was planning to write some slower selections to balance the fast movements – and allow some respite for the interpreter!

Southam had given her free rein to add, revise and interpret her music, stating, “I trust your musical judgment completely.” As a result, said Petrowska Quilico, “This has been a unique, personal and intimate journey in bringing these pieces to life.”

In the program notes that she had just started to write for the CD, Southam indicated the original “Glass Houses” were something of a salute to the minimalist composer Philip Glass, although she later became more interested in the music of Steve Reich, “with its processes of gradual changes.” She also acknowledged the inspiration of East Coast fiddle music, from years of listening to Don Messer and his Islanders on the radio, in the way the piece constantly spins out new tunes.

Glass Houses Revisited marks Petrowska Quilico’s third CD title devoted entirely to the music of Ann Southam, all issued by Centrediscs. The earlier two – the three CD set Rivers(2005, on the Canadian Composers Portraits series) and two-CD set Pond Life (2009) – were critically well received. As well, she has recorded Glass Houses No. 5 on her earlier CDsIngs, and other works by Southam on Northern Sirens, Virtuoso Piano Music of Our Own Time and Mystic Streams. She also performed Glass Houses No. 5 at the National Arts Centre in 2009 in a concert at which she and other artists were honored by the Canadian Music Centre on its 50th anniversary. That concert was named one of the top NAC events of 2009 by La Scena Musicale.

COMPANION RECORDING – #25: Christina Petrowska Quilico’s 25th CD, Liszt Anniversary Collection, released on Welspringe, features several staples of the classical canon, as well as Liszt’s later works Ave Maria and La Lugubre Gondola l & ll, which lead to the 20th century and reflect Petrowska Quilico’s speciality in contemporary music. She also performs operatic paraphrases in honor of her late husband, the legendary Metropolitan Opera baritone, Louis Quilico, one of the world’s most famous Rigolettos.

More information about Christina Petrowska Quilico and her recordings is available at and on YouTube. Centrediscs recordings and information about Ann Southam can be found at

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