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Ann Southam


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Ann Southam, CM (4 February 1937 – 25 November 2010) was a Canadian electronic and classical music composer and music teacher. She is known for her minimalist, iterative, and lyrical style, for her long-term collaborations with dance choreographers and performers, for her large body of work, and, according to the Globe and Mail, for "blazing a trail for women composers in a notoriously sexist field".

She was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1937, and lived most of her life in Toronto, Ontario. She died, aged 73, on 25 November 2010.

She was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2010.

Southam was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is the great-great-granddaughter of newspaper baron William Southam, and benefited from the inherited wealth of the family business. At the age of three, her family moved to Toronto, where Southam lived for the rest of her life.

Southam attended the private Bishop Strachan School for girls in Toronto, and dropped out after a year of Shaw's Business School for secretarial studies. Throughout this time she developed a hobby interest in music. She began composing at age 15 (in 1952) after attending a summer music camp at the Banff School (now known as The Banff Centre).

After dropping out of secretarial school, she studied piano and composition with Samuel Dolin at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, who introduced her to "tape music". She studied piano with Pierre Souvairan and electronic music with Gustav Ciamaga at the University of Toronto from 1960 to 1963. In 1966, she began teaching electroacoustic composition at the Royal Conservatory of Music.

In 1966 she was introduced to Patricia Beatty, a Canadian choreographer who had just returned from studying modern dance in New York. Shortly afterward, Southam began working on a new score for Beatty's adaptation of Macbeth and the two became friends. With this relationship as the catalyst, she began a collaboration with the New Dance Group of Canada (later known as Toronto Dance Theatre) in 1967, where she became composer-in-residence in 1968. Over her life she composed around 30 pieces for the group, as well as quietly supplying financial donations to keep the group afloat.

In the 1970s, when Southam was in her thirties, she came out as lesbian to her mother.

In 1977, she created Music Inter Alia, a concert promotion organization in Winnipeg that existed until 1991, with Diana McIntosh.

She founded, with Mary Gardiner, the Association of Canadian Women Composers in 1981. She was the first president (1980–'88), life member (2002), and honorary president (2007).

She was also an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre.

Ann Southam wrote work that was commissioned by organizations including the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the Music Gallery, and the CBC.

She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008, and died, aged 73, on 25 November 2010. Eve Egoyan and Christina Petrowska-Quilico performed at her memorial.

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