In our W5 series, we select one upcoming event, and get the musicians themselves to answer, in their own words, the basic (and sometimes not-so-basic) questions.
Recitals are usually about showcasing a soloist’s musical expertise – but in some cases, they’re also about expanding it. For pianists Christina Petrowska Quilico and Hye Won Cecilia Lee, an upcoming recital at the Canadian Music Centre quickly turned into an opportunity to curate a recital with a less-than-typical common thread. In this case, the through line is jazz: piano works by classical composers delving into the jazz world, jazz works arranged for classical forces, and other genre-traversing music that isn’t quite as easy to classify.
We spoke with pianists Quilico and Lee to ask them the whos, whats, whens, wheres and whys of their upcoming show.
The WholeNote: Who is involved with this project?
Christina Petrowska Quilico and Hye Won Cecilia Lee: Us, and the composers that we have worked/are working directly with: Bill Westcott, Michel-Georges Bregent, Phil Nimmons and Danny Oore.
WN: What’s the connection between all of the pieces on your program?
CPQ: I wanted my half to reflect many styles of piano music inspired by jazz. I wanted to include a Japanese composer – Masamitsu Takahashi – who wrote a very virtuosic, jazzy piece. Some pop influences are included in Metal Tiger and raucous rock and roll in Go Rocker Gangs Go (Both pieces are by Québécois composer Brégent, my first husband who wrote these pieces as a teenager, and who passed away too young).
Bill Westcott's pieces, Wannabe a Rag and All Boogies, are fun with lots of rhythm. The last two pieces I chose are Art Tatum stylings on songs by Duke Ellington and Gus Kahn. Very smooth and “cool.”
HWCL: I wanted to go the opposite direction and choose jazz musicians who wrote “classical” compositions. A couple of years ago, I was asked to take part in celebration concert for Phil Nimmons’ 90th birthday concert at the U of T Faculty of Music: I presented two shorties, the Toccata and the slow movement of the Sonata, and became quite interested in playing the whole sonata at some point. This summer, the “two camellias” (Red Camellia + White Camellia), which Phil wrote back in 1946, arrived in my inbox – and that a very tidy, succinct Nimmons set.
I wanted to complement the set with another piece that shared a certain something, so I went running to ask another friend – Danny Oore, a monster talent who I admire very much, and who also studies and works at the jazz department of the Faculty. He dug up a piece for me, The Mess, which includes many elements we often talk about: “Rests with fermatas are an invitation to tune and retune the music and the environments – its soundscape, people, and other things – and experience them as one...mess.”
So these selections come from the lives of people who I have interwoven with, for quite a while now. Life is varied and interesting and somehow, the pieces sorted themselves out into a nice, neat little collection.
WN: Where is your performance taking place? Why did you choose this space?
CPQ/HWCL: We were approached by Carol Gimbel, who has curated a set of concerts called CMC Presents. We will be at the Chalmers Performance Space, on the main floor of the Canadian Music Centre: 20 St. Joseph St., Toronto.
WN: When will the show be?
CPQ/HWCL: The show is on this coming Sunday, 24 September, at 3:30pm. Come on down, get a glass of ‘something,’ sit down with us, for a sweet Sunday afternoon.
WN: And why this particular idea, at this particular time?
HWCL: A person is made of many layers, interests and facets. However, it is too easy (or convenient) to be pigeon-holed into an identity. Christina is well-known for her contemporary solo piano performances, and I mainly work as a collaborative pianist/accompanist. However, we both have many interests beyond our “main” works – in music, and in life in general.
As result, in order to keep oneself supple, it is necessary to seek, experiment and present something beyond that “normal” thing that one does. So with Carol’s invitation, we brought things that stretch us, and hopefully our community – things that are non-standard, new, and highly personal. The day that one extends oneself outside of the boundaries – whether [those boundaries are] self-imposed, or outlined by the convenience of custom – is always a good day.
Pianists Christina Petrowska Quilico and Hye Won Cecilia Lee will present solo piano works by Masamitsu Takahashi, Michel-Georges Brégent, William Westcott, Art Tatum, Phil Nimmons and Danny Oore, as well as selections for piano four-hands by Nikolai Kapustin and Samuel Barber, at the Canadian Music Centre on Sunday, September 24 at 3:30pm. For more details, visit our listings or www.musiccentre.ca/node/148275.