Joseph Petric | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Joseph Petric

Joseph Petric. Accordionist, b Guelph, Ont, 8 Oct 1952; B MUS (Queen's) 1975, M MUS (Toronto) 1977. Petric was raised in Acton, Ont; he took his first accordion lessons at the age of five.

Joseph Petric

Joseph Petric. Accordionist, b Guelph, Ont, 8 Oct 1952; B MUS (Queen's) 1975, M MUS (Toronto) 1977. Petric was raised in Acton, Ont; he took his first accordion lessons at the age of five. At 14 he decided to become a professional accordionist despite the limited repertoire for the classical accordion and the scarcity of teachers. Moreover, the accordion was strongly linked to its popular and folkloric roots. At age 17 he enrolled in the Royal Conservatory of Music. At Queen's University he studied with Joseph Macerollo; he also studied musicology with Rika Maniates at the University of Toronto. Petric then moved to Germany to study with Swiss accordionist Hugo Noth at the Trossingen Hochschule für Musik. Petric credits American accordionists Willard Palmer and Bill Hughes as influential mentors 1969-70.

Petric was the first accordionist to win the CBC Music Auditions in 1980, which led to his debut recital for the CBC the same year. He made his US debut in 1986 at Kennedy Center in R. Murray Schafer's La Testa d'Adriane; also that year he toured several European cities. Since these early successes, he has performed at many major international concert venues and has been a featured soloist with orchestras including the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver CBC Chamber Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Orchestra, the Boston Modern Orchestra, Concertante di Chicago and the Camerata Roman of Sweden. Additionally, Petric was invited to perform with Toronto's New Music Concerts and Montreal's Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec.

Petric has been a featured performer at many international festivals, including Huddersfield, Belfast Festival, Agora Festival IRCAM, the Siljan Festival, the Tanglewood Festival, the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, Festival of the Sound and the Domaine Forget International Festival.

Joseph Petric has recorded extensively; he appears on more than 25 recordings issued through CBC Records, Analekta, AIR Records, Centrediscs, ConAccord, Naxos, Odeofon, Victo and Chandos.

Commissions, Premieres and Transcriptions

Joseph Petric's achievements have elevated the status of the accordion from popular cliché to a legitimate position on the international concert stage. To that end, Petric has enriched the accordion repertoire through his lengthy list of commissioned works. He is credited for commissioning and premiering more than 200 new works for the instrument, including 11 new accordion concertos, approximately 30 mixed-media and electroacoustic works, and numerous solo and chamber works. In addition, he has given 20 North American premieres of works by composers such as Mauricio Kagel, Torbjörn Lundquist and Luciano Berio, as well as the European premieres of approximately 50 Canadian compositions. Among the Canadian composers who have written works for Joseph Petric are Brian Cherney, Omar Daniel, Yves Daoust, Daniel Foley, Denis Gougeon, Christos Hatzis, David Jaeger, Peter Paul Koprowski, Alcides Lanza and Robert Pritchard. Moreover, Petric has created a bibliography of more than 1000 adaptations and transcriptions of works by composers including J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart Stravinsky, and Antonio Soler.

Technical Innovations

Petric plays a custom-built accordion, designed by him and built by Canadian Leo Niemi. He developed the innovation of a raised footrest; this supporting of the instrument's weight allows a technical ease and interpretive flexibility previously unknown in accordion performance.

Joseph Petric holds a unique status among accordionists, not only for his technical virtuosity and innovations, but also for his thorough musical training and authentic use of stylistic practices. To that end, he studied performance practice with the Vághy String Quartet, interpretation with early music specialist Leslie Huggett, Baroque instruments and practice with harpsichordist Colin Tilney and fortepianist Boyd McDonald, improvisation with composer Pauline Oliveros, and electroacoustic and multimedia art with the Canadian Electronic Ensemble.

Chamber Music Collaborations

Joseph Petric's chamber music collaborations include the Petric-Forget Duo with oboist Normand Forget, Bellows and Brass with trumpeter Guy Few and trombonist Alain Trudel, and Erosonic with baritone saxophonist David Mott. Additionally, Petric has performed with the Penderecki, Arriaga, Duke, Vanbrugh and Alcan string quartets.

Awards and Honours
Petric's album Orbiting Garden was nominated for a Juno award in 2003. He was also nominated for the Prix Opus in 2005, and for the Hunter Recording Prize in 2003. In 1994 Petric was appointed artistic director of the CBC's Virtuosi Series at the Glenn Gould Studio. From 1991-2 Petric was co-artistic director of The Big Squeeze accordion festival in Toronto. In 2006 Petric was the first instrumentalist to be given the Friend of Canadian Music Award, and in 2009 he was named an ambassador of the Canadian Music Centre.

In addition to performances in major international concert venues, Joseph Petric's recitals have been broadcast on television networks CBC, PBS, TV 5 and BRAVO, and he was the first accordionist to successfully audition for BBC Radio 3.


Selected Discography

Bach, Johann Sebastian. Suites, Sonatas, Airs & Dances. Joseph Petric. 2001. FL 2 3133. Analekta

Berio, Luciano. Sequenzas I-XIV. Joseph Petric et al. 2006. 8.557661-63. Naxos

Mystery Theatre. Erosonic. Joseph Petric accordion, David Mott baritone saxophone. 2002. cd085. Victo

Orbiting Garden. Joseph Petric. 2002. CMCCD 7802. Centrediscs

Soler, Antonio. Nine Sonatas. Joseph Petric. 1999. FL 2 3116. Analekta

Further Reading