Visual art and music will come together when piano virtuoso and Yorkville resident Christina Petrowska Quilico performs the works of her former student, midtown Toronto-based Constantine Caravassilis, at the Glenn Gould Studio.
The concert will serve as a release party for the duo’s new double CD, Visions: Rhapsodies & Fantasias, and will be accompanied by artwork created by Petrowska Quilico to complement the music.
The melding of music with the visual is fitting given that Caravassilis has synaesthesia, a condition in which the stimulation of one sense results in automatic reactions from other senses.
“I get different tastes in my mouth and depending on how complicated the piece is, I might see one colour or a whole palette of colours and neighbouring shades,” he said.
Caravassilis did not know his condition was unusual until he was studying at the University of Toronto. Until then, he believed everyone perceived sound in the same way.
“We were listening to music and I said to one of my study mates ‘Can’t you hear the brown?’” he recalled. “He said, ‘Oh, you’re a synaesthete’ and at the time, I had no idea what that was.”
Petrowska Quilico painted pieces to correspond with Caravassilis’ compositions and, while she does not share the composer’s synaesthesia, she consulted with Caravassilis on the paintings.
“I said ‘I’ll tell you what I see (when listening to the music) and a lot of the time, we matched,” she said. “I would tell him ‘For this piece, I see purple and red’ and he said ‘Yes, that’s right.’ There was one where I saw yellow and red, and he said ‘That’s right.’”
The pianist and artist painted more than 100 paintings to correspond with Caravassilis’ music, which she was drawn to because she found the rhapsodies, fantasias and fugues heartfelt even as they drew from various influences. To see the artwork created by Petrowska Quilico visit www.PetrowskaQuilico.com
She said combining music and art makes sense even without making the direct connections synaesthetes are able to make.
“I love discussing tonal colour and how it translates between painting and music,” she said.
Caravassilis, meanwhile, has learned to control his synaesthesia to a certain point. He noted it tends to occur only when he hears low string sounds, making it a valuable tool at his disposal when composing pieces.
“If I’m working on a piece and I want to induce my synaesthetic condition into it, I translate it into strings,” he said. “It’s a fun mind game to play with myself as a composer.”
The midtown resident is currently working toward his doctorate at the University of Toronto and finds his neighbourhood ideal for his lifestyle.
“Yonge and Eglinton has a downtown feel with everything a grad student would ever need so close by, but my street is very, very safe and very, very quiet with a lot of trees around,” he said.
Petrowska Quilico, meanwhile, loves living in the Yorkville area. Having grown up in New York City, where she attended The Juilliard School, she loves the hustle and bustle of being where the action is.
“I like to walk around everywhere, and there are a lot of places to walk around here,” she said.
The Visions: Rhapsodies & Fantasias launch will take place at the Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front St. W., at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22. For tickets, visit www.roythomson.com or call 416-872-4255.