Exploring Centrestreams: Ann Southam's "Springs of Earth no. 2"

April 19, 2013

Despite warnings of the temperature dropping and possible flurries this evening (???), I am convinced that spring is happening. On my daily commute through Toronto's Rosedale Valley Road I have noticed a lot of beautiful green ground cover appearing, and an explosion of tiny blue flowers covering the area at the corner of Rosedale Valley and Park. It's happening. It's all happening.

In keeping with this optimistic view, today I am keeping with the theme of 'nature' and listening to Ann Southam's Springs of Earth no. 2. I love Southam's music, especially her solo piano works, because it is so hypnotic, atmospheric and beautiful. This is the kind of music I put on when I want to put it on and simply drift along with where the cascading, flowing music takes me.

I don't know a lot about this piece, as it isn't one we have in the CMC archive. This recording was made in 1983 by pianist Marilyn Engle. There is a brief discussion at the beginning of the track in which they describe the mathematical construction of the work, and Engle aptly states, "There is a certain mathematics to it...in any case, if it is any kind of a mathematical organization in some ways, it is so subtle that one hasn't got the impression of there being something calculated." I totally agree. Like a lot of 'minimalist' compositions, much of the structure is based on phasing or slightly changing rhythmic patterns. Also like many minimalist compositions, the listener isn't meant to try and intellectualize their way through these patterns, and is simply left with a sense of these subtle changes in a steadily moving stream.

Click HERE to listen to this work in our Centrestreams player!

Also, if you are not aware, pianist Eve Egoyan is giving a recital tonight at the CBC's Glenn Gould Studio to mark the release of her new album of music by Ann Southam. Check out what will be a fantastic event if you can!