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Charting her own course


composer and philanthropist ann southam


This month sees an efflorescence of Ann Southam, the Toronto composer and philanthropist who died in 2010. The April issue of Walrus magazine contains a feature story on Southam detailing her fascinating journey from scion of a very wealthy media family to one of Canada’s most respected contemporary composers, breaking new ground as a woman, and lesbian, in the male-dominated world of composition.

“She always used to say that her music was simply a mask so she could be herself,” her brother Kip is quoted as saying in the article.

On Wed, Apr 25, Christopher House premieres the full-length piece Rivers with the Toronto Dance Theatre, set to Southam’s 30-year-old song cycle of the same name. The music was first recorded in 1982 by Canadian pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, who rerecorded the series of minimalist piano solos in 2005; she accompanies the TDT performances live. “I imagine a work that celebrates the sweep of the music,” states House in a press release, “joyful, tender, playful, rhapsodic, serene, frenetic.”

Southam’s relationship with TDT went back more than 40 years through her friendship with company co-founder Patricia Beatty. Southam composed nearly 30 works for the company and was a generous benefactor. The Walrus article noted her many instances of quiet philanthropy including bequeathing $14 million to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Southam was awarded the Order of Canada in 2010.

RIVERS $15-$40. 8pm. Wed, Apr 25-28. 2pm. Apr 28. Fleck Dance Theatre. 207 Queen’s Quay W. (416) 973-4000. tdt.org.