Joseph Petric

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Joseph Francis Petric
Petric Portrait 2022.png
Joseph Petric (2022)
Background information
Born (1952-10-08) October 8, 1952 (age 69)
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Occupation(s)Concert accordionist, musicologist, composer, author, teacher
Years active1979–present

Joseph Francis Petric (born October 8, 1952) is a Canadian concert accordionist, historian, author, and pedagogue.


Early Years[edit]

Born in Guelph, Ontario, and raised in Acton,[1] his father took him to his first accordion lesson at age five. He continued informal accordion studies with local teachers, while also learning the guitar, French horn, and trombone. His time playing brass presented ample opportunities for tutelage under local bandmasters and performances with community wind bands. At the age of 15, Petric received a recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No.6 in F Major “Pastorale”; this LP was his first classical recording and it proved to be a watershed moment in his life. Petric’s musical interests expanded after this encounter with Beethoven. He began to study theory and figured bass with John Goobie in Guelph, gave performances in church halls, banquets, business clubs, and Royal Canadian Legion halls, and began researching possibilities for advanced musical studies. Petric was soon offered a bursary by David Ouchterlony, principal of the Toronto Royal Conservatory of Music.

Formal Training[edit]

Petric began private studies at the Royal Conservatory with Joe Macerollo in 1968. In 1971 he was accepted into a liberal arts program at Queen's University and began studies in the humanities, Russian, history of philosophy, art history, and performance. In 1972 he transferred into Queen's Bachelor of Music program, while continuing his performance studies at the Royal Conservatory (1971–5). In the music program, Petric studied analysis with Istvan Anhalt, electronic music and improvisation with David Keane, and interpretation with Denise Narcisse-Maire. He subsequently achieved his Master of Arts in Musicology (1975–7) at the University of Toronto after studying with Rika Maniates, Carl Morey, and Andrew Hughes. Petric continued private performance studies upon completion of his musicology degree. He went to West Germany to study with Hugo Noth at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Trossingen, and then studied jazz with Pat LaBarbara at Humber College Toronto (1981–2). In the 1990s Petric received a Canada Council Senior Artists B Grant, and rounded out his education by studying  the acoustic properties of early instruments and period interpretation with Renaissance specialist Leslie Huggett (1992–8), harpsichordist Colin Tilney (1997–2010), and Haydn forte-pianist Boyd McDonald (2009–15).[2]


Petric's career operates on the margins of institutional traditions, a philosophy that is informed by his predilection for the humanities and musical precursors.[2] This philosophy has impacted his use of the accordion as a medium of diverse musical languages,[3] which is made most obvious in Petric’s technique. Based on his study of Giuseppe Tartini's Traité des Agréments (1751) and Adolph Beyschlag's Die Ornamentik (1904), Petric developed a unique sound between 1980 and 1986 that is modelled on a classical Italian operatic technique. Using a physiologically based approach,[3] Petric is able to incorporate subtle expressive devices like vibrato into performances that would typically be delivered without such considerations.[4]



Commissioning new works has been a salient focus throughout Petric's career. To date his list of solo, concerto, electroacoustic, and chamber music commissions include some 340 works that rebalance elements of the classical canon into a dialogical medium.[5],[6] Petric’s electroacoustic works (1986–2019) make frequent use of canonical pieces, although presenting them in an entirely new musical aesthetic. These works embraced the legacy of Hugh LeCaine’s 1948 NRC electronic studio, and were also products of the burgeoning and experimental electronic music studios at Queen's University (1976–7), University of Toronto (1982), McGill University (with Alcides Lanza, 1988), Conservatoire de Montréal,  ACREQ (with Yves Daoust, Serge Arcuri, Gabriele Ledoux, Symon Henry; 1986–2018), the Canadian Elecrtonic Ensemble studio (with David Jaeger, Jim Montgomery, Larry Lake; 1986–2020), and University of British Columbia (with Bob Pritchard and Keith Hamel, 2000–06).[7][8][9]

Despite the electroacoustic genre being largely confined to experimental and avant garde circles (e.g works by David Jaeger, Christos Hatzis, and Larry Lake), these works were welcomed enthusiastically over decades in programs Petric intended for general audiences.[10] These pieces included innovative digital and computer stochastic programming, live digital delay systems, electroacoustic CD playback, interactive software, sound processing, techno-chamber, live computer systems, and MAC patch software.[9][10][11] Petric’s 2018 concert and masterclasses at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Trossingen stimulated strong interest in the genre, which helped revitalize a Bavarian electronic studio there.


In 1988, with the support of his London management, Petric began to develop a concerto-led career. He commissioned 20 concerti between 1986 and 2022, an unprecedented contribution that diversifies the canon. These commissions include works by Norman Symonds (1986), Peter Paul Koprowski (1994), Howard Skempton (1996), Gunnar Valkare (1996), Brian Current (2009), Denis Gougeon (2004), Omar Daniel (1998), James Rolfe (2005) David Mott (2019),[3] and Adam Scime (2022), among others.


Influenced by the writings of Walter Benjamin’s Task of the Translator (1923), Petric embraces the values of adaptation and palimpsest as “re-imagined conversations” in a time rife with univocal transcriptions and autonomous works.[12] His textual destabilizations were welcomed by postmodern audiences in programs including Rameau, Torbjorn Lundquist, Schubert, Hatzis, Bach, and Lake.[13] [2] 

Performing Arts[edit]

Petric's performance career began within the cultural and conservatory contexts of the accordion. By the early 1980s it was clear that his performances had moved beyond orthodox traditions and his work had entered a distinctly post-colonial trajectory, forming a decentered concert art that draws inspiration from a diversity of sources.[14] This transformative period included the mastery of multiple musical "languages", among them: free improvisation, comprovisation, electroacousticism, multi-media, theatrical works, and the emerging "languages" of techno-chamber (with computer and software), the post-colonial concerto, and the demands of rhetoric in the art of palimpsest.[14]


Between 1986 and 2010 Petric was supported by five international management agencies: MGAM Toronto, RCPA Toronto, Columbia Artists New York, Sarah Turner Communications Paris, and NCCP London. His international tours were extensive and resulted in premieres of many works across North America, Europe, the Middle East, former Soviet Bloc, Scandinavia, and Asia at venues like Institut de recherche et coordination acoustique / musique (IRCAM), Tanglewood Music Festival, Kennedy Center, The Berlin Philharmonic Chamber Music Hall, Disney Centre, Israeli Opera at Tel Aviv, Jerusalem Festival, and Tokyo Spring.

His appearances included return engagements with Musique Royale, Debut Atlantic, Encore Atlantic, Prairie Debut, John Lewis Partnership (UK), Jeunesses Musicales, Columbia Artists Community Concerts, and Sweden's Reikskonzerter. In 2009 he began a series of intercontinental tours with tenor Christoph Prégardien in Normand Forget’s chamber adaptation of Schubert’s Die Winterreise.[10] These performances brought them to Wigmore Hall, Tokyo Bunkai Kaikan, and The Berlin Philharmonic.[2] Engagements at international festivals include Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, De Yjsbrekker, MusikHaus Vienna, Siljan Festival  Hohenems Schubertiade, and Belfast Festival. Petric remains a sought-after guest for international masterclasses and lectures across Europe, the United Kingdon, and North America.

In Canada, Petric has also performed at The Music Gallery, Musique Actuelle SRC, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, McGill Festival, Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, Festival Bic (St. Fabien Québec), Québec New Music Festival, VICTO Festival (Victoriaville, Québec), Winnipeg New Music Festival, Newfoundland Sound Symposium, and the Vancouver New Music Society.


Petric's discography includes 38 titles on Naxos, Chandos Records, Musica Viva, CBC5000 Series, Analekta, Astrila, Centrediscs, and ConAccord labels. Many of Petric’s albums feature unique themes, for example Euphonia (2002), which features works by female-identifying composers Linda C. Smith, Jocelyn Morlock, and Janika Vandervelde. Other thematic albums include Elektrologos (2010), featuring electroacousmatic works by Hatzis, Pritchard, and Lake, and albums devoted to the music of Bach (Six Trio Sonatas, 2009), Scarlatti (Domenico Scarlatti: 18 Sonatas, 2008) and Rameau (Dialogues – Illuminations, 2002). His concert documentaries and videos are available from France’s TV5, Array Music, NUMUS and London’s Wigmore Hall series.[2] Canada’s CBC and Société Radio Canada archives include Petric’s fond of dozens of studio, live, and live to air recordings of solo, chamber, and concerto works.

Critical Appraisal[edit]

Petric’s innovative technique and repertoire have continued to captivate audiences and critics alike. After the Tanglewood Music Festival performance of the complete Berio Sequenzas in 2000, The Boston Globe pronounced: “an extraordinary performer…Petric was eloquent in the most offbeat, moving and nostalgic of the Sequenzas”.[15] In 2009, The Halifax Chronicle Herald critic Stephen Pederson noted: “Petric is an old hand at making contemporary music sing, with unusual insight into how to clarify and project detail, as well as a superb sense of rhythmic design”.[16] Peter Reed of London’s ClassicalSource noted Petric’s 2019 Wigmore Hall appearance for his “inspired use of the extraordinary grasp of its ability to sound like breath from another planet”.[17]  

Correspondence & Other Ideas[edit]

Petric has maintained correspondence with several notable musical figures throughout his career. In the 1980s Petric consulted John Cage and David Tudor when he was considering the possibilities of processed sound in his own programming. In a watershed correspondence that rebalanced the traditional composer / instrumentalist hierarchy, Petric approached composer Witold Lutowslawski with the intention of de-coding and translating Dance Preludes (originally for clarinet and piano) for viola and accordion. This process opened Lutowslawski to a re-evaluation of his own works, and the composer would ultimately give permission for the original score to be adapted for viola and accordion (1984–90), clarinet and accordion (1992–2002), and oboe and accordion (2002–19). In the 1990s a Canada Council grant supported his project of sonic improvisations with Pauline Olivieros. These exploratory sessions were an extension of Oliveros’ deep listening principles and offered fresh perspectives on how to destabilize the hierarchy of traditional listening functions, with an alternative focus on sound and space as meditation.



Giovanni Gagliardi (1908)

Petric is a devoted pedagogue whose specialized mentorship extends to a global roster of private students. This dimension of his practice is supplemented by scholarly publications, including The Concert Accordion – Contemporary Perspectives (2017), which combines musicological, historical, and interpretive approaches. Here, Petric re-introduced Giovanni Gagliardi's 1911 Paris treatise Le Petit Manual de L'Accordéoniste (reprint Augemus, 2004) and his ‘circular bowing’ technique. Petric also addresses the erasures of classical accordion culture by codifying 14 concert instrument patents. These patents were filed between 1890 and 1930, and come from Italian builders near Milan, Catania, Croce St. Spirito, Paris, Geneva, Bolzano, Philadelphia, New York City, and Chicago. Petric also draws the reader’s attention to hundreds of ignored and deserving concert accordionist precursors from 1900 to 1960. His Holistic Accordion, a Manifesto - Fresh Perspectives of an Interpretive Art was published 2022 by Augemus.   

Instrument Design[edit]

Prompted by the acoustic challenges he encountered as a symphonic concerto soloist between 1986 and 1996, Petric became active in acoustic research and instrumental design. Working with Canadian builder Leo Niemi between 1986 and1994, they developed a design with reed blocks specially constructed to deliver heightened reed response and sound projection in symphonic concertos. The design relied on violin-like sound posts for enhanced resonance in the largest of concert halls, and silicone-shellac finish similar to the one used on Stradivarius’ violins.[12]


  • Petric, Joseph. The Concert Accordion: Contemporary Perspectives. Essen, Germany: Augemus Musikverlag [de], 2017. 328 pages.
  • Petric, Joseph. The Holistic Accordion, a Manifesto: Fresh Perspectives of an Interpretive Art. Essen, Germany: Augemus Musikverlag, 2022. 55 pages.


Set Ensembles[edit]

  • Biarc2 (2019): accordion and clarinet duo, contemporary works with Martin Carpentier accordion and clarinet duo, contemporary works with Martin Carpentier
  • Trio Diomira (2011): inclusive trio influenced by Indian, jazz, contemporary, and European classical traditions and texts, works by Dinuk Wijaratne
  • Duo Contempera (2009): accordion and cello duo with David Hetherington
  • Petric / Forget Duo (2002–11): accordion and oboe, works ancient and new
  • Pentaèdre (2004–present), Winterreise Project: Schubert's Winterreise adapted for wind quintet by N. Forget; performances with Christoph Prégardien
  • Bellows and Brass (1999–present): trio for accordion, trombonist Alain Trudel, and triple virtuoso and actor Guy Few; commissioned works, theatrical creations, multi-media works, live video and interactive electronics, new and ancient music
  • Erosonic (1994–present): accordion and baritone saxophone (David Mott); performing notated, com-provised, and electroacoustic works with staging, lighting and movement
  • Petric / Penderecki Quartet (1994–present): commissions, collaborations and recordings, with staging, electronics and narrations
  • Deep Listening (1989–97): duo with Pauline Oliveros
  • Open Line (1991–2000): duo with accordion and multiple instrumentalist Guy Few (trumpets, Corno da caccia, piccolo trumpets, concert pianist, and actor); tours in Canada and United States

Artistic Direction[edit]

  • The Big Squeeze Accordion Festival (1991), artistic co-director with Derek Andrews: 32 guest artists included Mogens Ellegaard, Friedrich Lips, Miny Dekkers, Pauline Oliveros, Flacko, Jimminez, El Jacquo di Jacqua; co-production with Toronto's Harbourfront Centre, CBC Radio, CBC Television, Ontario Arts Council, and Canada Council of the Arts.
  • Virtuosi Series (1992), artistic director: series featuring contemporary Canadian composers and virtuosi for CBC national new music program Two New Hours; at [[Glenn Gould Theatre, Toronto
  • Carte Blanche (2000), artistic director: live to air national broadcast for Societe Radio Canada at Salle Pierre Péladeau, Montreal
  • Carte Blanche (2002), artistic director: live to air national broadcast for Societe Radio Canada at Cathédral de Sainte Trinité, Quebec City
  • Accordion on Fire (2010), artistic director: concerti by Brian Current, Denis Gougeon, and Astor Piazzolla; performed with Victoria Symphony with Tania Miller
  • Complete Berio Sequenza Collection (2013), artistic co-director with David Hetherington: first complete Canadian staging of Luciano Berio's Sequenza collection with Berio's original narrations of Sanguinetti's poetry, fully staged, University of Toronto New Music Festival

String Ensembles[edit]

String trios and quartets have comprised a significance portion of Petric's collaborative efforts. Composers Andrew Paul MacDonald (Quebec), Adrian Williams (UK), Yannick Plammondon (Quebec), and Éric Morin (Quebec) have had works premiered by Petric in collaboration with the Vanbrugh (Ireland) and Penderecki (Canada) Quartets. Combining traditional elements of the trio and quartet genres with modern styles, these premieres included strictly acoustic, electroacoustic, and theatrical works. Petric has also given premieres of works by Marjan Mozetich and Raymond Luedeke with the Amadeus and Adaskin Trios. Petric's complete list of trio and quartet collaborators includes:

  • Galliard Trio, 1982 (Canada)
  • Amadeus Ensemble, 1982–93 (Canada)
  • Duke Quartet, 1992–94 (England)
  • RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet, 1994–2000 (Ireland)
  • Penderecki Quartet, 1994–present (Canada)
  • Arriaga Quartet, 1996–98 (Belgium)
  • Alcan Quartet, 1996–99 (Quebec)
  • Milverton Quartet, 1997 (Canada)
  • Adaskin String Trio, 2000–06 (Canada)
  • Quatour St. Germaine, 2008–10 (Quebec)
  • Silver Birch Quartet, 2011 (Canada)



  • CBC National Radio Auditions, Laureate (1980)
  • BBC Radio3 Auditions, Laureate (1992): First accordionist laureate at BBC, London
  • Ontario Arts Council, Hunter Prize for Best Recording (1999)
  • JUNO nomination for Best Composition on CD Orbiting Garden (2002)
  • Canadian Music Centre, Friend of Music Award (2005): First Canadian instrumentalist to receive the award for championing new Canadian composition
  • Canadian Music Centre, Ambassador of Canadian Music (2009): Awarded on November 9 to recognize "50 in 50" for their contributions to Canadian Music
  • Prix Opus Best Concert Québec (2008)
  • Prix Opus Best Recording Québec (2010)
  • UNESCO, International Music Council, Confédération internationale des accordéonistes; Merit Award (2013): Presented in Victoria, British Columbia for contributions to international accordion art


Petric's work has garnered support from Koussevitsky Foundation New York City, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, QALC (Quebec Society of Arts and Letters), CBC Radio, Societé Radio Canada, Reikskonzerter (Sweden), Laidlaw Foundation (Toronto), and private benefactors Richard Moore and others in the US and the UK.[13]



  1. ^ Okum, Leanne (May 26, 1992). "Joseph Petric comes home with his Academy Players". Acton Tanner. p. 7.
  2. ^ a b c d "Array Presents III: Retrospectives – Joseph Petric – April 3, 2021". Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Goldman, Jonathan (2004). "Interview with Joseph Petric". Circuit: Musiques Contemporaines. 15: 73–85. doi:10.7202/902343ar.
  4. ^ Petric 2017, pp. 272–273.
  5. ^ "Commissions". Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  6. ^ "Biography". Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  7. ^ "Joseph Petric". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  8. ^ Pigula, Szymon. The Role of the Accordion in Chamber Music. MA thesis, Karol Szymanowskiego Akademy (Katowice, Poland), 2011. p. 34.
  9. ^ a b Pigula, Szymon. The Accordion in Canadian Chamber Music: Inspirations, Stylistic and Interpretive Considerations. PhD diss., Stanislaw Moniuszko Akademy (Gdansk, Poland).
  10. ^ a b c d Petric, Joseph (August 30, 2021). "CV" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ Hubbs, Nadine (Summer 1994). "The Fourteenth Annual New Music and Art Festival at BGSU: New Music on its Own Terms". Perspectives of New Music. 32 (2): 304–315. doi:10.2307/833616. JSTOR 833616 – via Gale.
  12. ^ a b Goldman, Jonathan (2004). "Interview with Joseph Petric". Circuit: Musiques Contemporaines. 15 (1): 82. doi:10.7202/902343ar. ISSN 1183-1693.
  13. ^ a b "Home". Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  14. ^ a b Petric 2017, pp. 144–145.
  15. ^ Petric, Joseph (2022). "Select Solo Reviews" (PDF).
  16. ^ Petric, Joseph (2022). "Select Concerto Reviews" (PDF).
  17. ^ Reed, Peter (2019). "Wigmore Hall – Christoph Prégardien, Pentaèdre & Joseph Petrič perform Normand Forget's arrangement of Schubert's Winterreise". Classical Source. Retrieved May 8, 2022.


External links[edit]