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Charting her own course

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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.

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