Engage Christina Petrowska Quilico in a conversation about the creative arts, and she’ll take you on a tour of her paintings in her Yorkville home.
Two of those paintings, Light and Dark, were used in crafting the cover of her two CD album, World Apart.
“I do a lot of painting. It’s important to have this inter-relation of arts,” she says, with a teacup Yorkie in her lap. A pug runs around at her feet, adding a splash of grey on a white-on-white décor.
Mixing arts is the foundation of her work these days. Worlds Apart pays tribute to both literature and the classic composers. Those arts provided the inspiration.
The first CD is Classics with a Twist, and features the romantic, light side of her piano work. Compositions by John Rea, Peter Paul Koprowski and Steven Gellman. The second CD is Worlds Apart, the same as the collection, and features works by David Jaeger, Michel-Georges Brégent, Patrick Cardy, Diana McIntosh and Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux. It’s the dark half to the first.
Petrowska Quilico shares a happy anecdote about her late mother sharing a moment with Koprowski when he paid Quilico a visit. Being of Ukrainian, Polish and Hungarian ancestry, her mother could speak with Koprowski, who was Polish.
“Before he came, but I used to play pieces for her and she had the best objective criticism. She either got or she didn’t,” Quilico recalls. “She said that sounds a lot like Chopin.”
Of course, Koprowski’s piece is “Rhapsody on a Theme of Brahms”, so Petrowska Quilico shrugged it off.
“My mother chatted with him in Polish, and they’re both looking at me smiling, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, no’,” she says. “And then the composer said to me, ‘You know your mom is right, it is Chopin’.”
There are plenty of stories from her past that bubble to the surface, and are pleading to be told. She restrains herself, but remembers the highlights.
She performs one song, “Geste” by her first husband, Brégent, who died at the age of 45.
Cardy and Saint-Marcoux are two other composers, and close friends, who died young.
She falls into a rueful moment, remembering another fallen colleague Jacques Israelievitch, as the two had recorded plenty of sonatas during Fancies and Interludes. More music will be released from the seven and a half hour sit down, which was first launched in June, 2015.
“I was glad to have continued with Mozart,” she said.
She’ll be performing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which will be another tough moment, as the last time she performed Israelievitch was the concertmaster.
Still, she’s warm in knowing she’s accomplished her homage to some of her friends and past collaborators.
“What I enjoy is doing things by hand. My art is not working with computers, but with hands,” she says. “There needs to be something said about just the purity of music, and just reading a book.”