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The Reprieve

The Reprieve


In 1973, when Ann Southam was asked if she gets impatient with those who find electronic music a "threat" to traditional music she responded in this way: "No. The very fact that such a question would ever arise is interestingOf course, it's not a possibility; it's like saying Are grapes going to take over from apples'."

Mitchell, C.J. 'Warmth a characteristic of Ann Southam's electronic music,' MSc , 269, Jan-Feb 1973

In that same interview Southam spoke of her interest in collaborating with choreographers to create modern dance works rather than ballet, in which visual patterns often replace audible ones. In modern dance the music and dancers work independently and in conjunction, creating tensions that are doubly suggestive and effective. She has also explored composing to existing choreography and this has allowed her the opportunity to deal with what she refers to as "chance relationships".

An example of Southam electronic music used for modern dance is The Reprieve (1976), which was choreographed by Patricia Beatty for Toronto Dance Theatre.


Ann Southam was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1937 but has lived most of her life in Toronto. After completing musical studies at the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music, Ann began a teaching and composing career which has included a long and productive association with modern dance. As well as creating music for some of Canada's major modern dance companies and choreographers including The Toronto Dance Theatre, Danny Grossman, Dancemakers, Patricia Beatty, Christopher House and Rachel Browne, she has been an instructor in electronic music at the Royal Conservatory of Music and has participated in many "composer-in-the-classroom" programs.

While much of her work has been electroacoustic music on tape, she has become increasingly interested in music for acoustic instruments. She has composed concert music for a variety of acoustic instruments and ensembles, working with such artists and ensembles as Eve Egoyan, Beverley Johnston and Arraymusic. Southam is a member of the Canadian Music Centre, the Canadian League of Composers and a founding member of the Association of Canadian Women Composers.

Scientist in music The Reprieve Beneath the Forest Floor Concerto pour Ondes-Martenot Riverrun

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