TWO OF CANADA'S BEST HERE FOR GALA CONCERT - The Coast Reporter February 24, 2006

Two of Canada’s beloved performers — one at the keyboard, one at the microphone — promise to captivate the audience at the Coast Recital Society’s (CRS) 2006 gala concert on Feb. 25 at Sechelt’s Raven’s Cry Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

Pianist Janina Fialkowska will join CBC Radio’s Shelagh Rogers for an evening of fine piano music and conversation. The program includes works by Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Schubert and Frédéric Chopin.

“Janina is a brilliant pianist with a wonderful story to tell. Who better to host this gala evening of words and music than the wonderful Shelagh Rogers,” said CRS artistic director Frances Heinsheimer Wainwright.

Born in Montreal, Fialkowska began piano studies with her mother at the age of five. By age 17, she received advanced degrees from the University of Montreal, and in 1969, she won first prize in the CBC Talent Festival. In 1974, her career was launched by Artur Rubinstein after her prize-winning performance at his inaugural international piano competition.

Fialkowska is celebrated for her interpretations of Chopin and Franz Liszt, as well as the music of 20th century Polish composers. She has performed with most of the world’s renowned conductors, orchestras and symphonies.

Fialkowska’s career came to a dramatic halt in 2002. At the onset of a major European tour, a malignant tumour was discovered in her left arm. In 2003, after radiation treatment, she underwent a rare and successful surgical procedure. Though her doctors doubted she would ever perform again, Fialkowska persevered and returned triumphantly to the stage.

Host of CBC Radio’s Sounds Like Canada, Rogers has a special rapport with musicians, and Fialkowska is one of her favourite interviews. In her 25-year CBC career, Rogers has hosted many of the corporation’s flagship arts and information programs. Two years after she joined the CBC in Ottawa, she became host of the national daily classical concert program Mostly Music.

In 1984, she moved to CBC Toronto where, upon interviewing Peter Gzowski, he invited her to become the regular on-air reader of listener mail on Morningside. She fulfilled this role for the next 12 years, while also hosting such prestigious programs as State of the Arts, The Arts Tonight and Take Five on CBC Radio Two. After the retirement and sudden death of Gzowski, her friend and mentor, Rogers moved into the program slot previously filled by Morningside, first as host of This Morning and then in 2003 to the CBC Vancouver based Sounds Like Canada.

In addition to their performing careers, both women contribute mightily to community projects. Fialkowska is the founding artistic director of Piano Plus, which sends Canada’s top musical performers to small and remote centres. Rogers devotes many hours to literacy projects from coast to coast.