Diana McIntosh is well known for her creative imagination and originality, and she has written several works of unusual instrumentation, such as, Four on the Floor, for 4 pianos, 3 brass and 2 percussion, with creative coloured lighting, (this work was commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for its New Music festival), several works for toy piano and mouth percussion, and a work for food processor and spoken text.
Her earliest compositions were little piano pieces, written when she was about 12 years old. Her piano teacher was not very interested in her creativity, and her mother merely said, "That's nice, dear". So that aspect of her nature was sublimated until she was in the Bachelor of Music program at the University of Manitoba - as a "mature student"(!) - when her talents were properly encouraged. An assignment in Peggy Sampson's Form in Music classes required writing arias for voice and piano, and a sonata for piano. It turned out that Diana was about the only one in the class who wrote the works in a modern idiom. A bit later, for an assignment from Dr. Robert Turner, in his clases on Contrapuntal Music, she wrote a Prelude and Fugue for piano, and a Bagatelle for wind quintet. For the latter, she was given 100%. Now that's encouragement! She has always laughed about it, knowing full well that it's ne ver the case that something can't be improved upon!
Certain characteristics are evident in all the music she writes. Structure is vitally important to her - a reflection of her "classical" music background. Sound-colours are usually evident as well, as she explores all the sounds a given instrument can make. Shortly after graduating from the U.of M. she discovered another hidden ability when she took part in a week-long, live-in acting workshop. It should have been no surprise that she was good at it, and enjoyed it, because as a child she and a friend put on little shows in their neighborhood! This newly-released genie soon developed into a serious part of her musical writing and performing. A list of some of her theatrically oriented works is given at the foot of her catalogue of works.
As indicated, Diana writes music not only for herself, but also for others - for virtually any solo instrument or combination of instruments. Her catalogue has more than 70 works, listed in categories (solo piano, solo viola, chamber, etc.). Her scores are available through the Canadian Music Centre. Many of her works have been written on commission, as shown below:
Diana lived in Calgary, Alberta until she was married, and she spent many summers as a young girl with an aunt who had a cabin above Bow Falls, in Banff. As a consequence, she is enthralled by the grandeur and the peace of the mountains, and it seems that her muse resides among them. Her keenest desire when composing is to be in the ambience of the mountains, and she has had many residencies at the Leighton Artist Colony, at The Banff Centre. She has a reputation with the staff there for absolute devotion to her work, virtually to the exclusion of all else. She is extremely grateful for that institution, and for the privilege of using it, completely undisturbed. Many of her compositions are directly inspired by the Rocky Mountains, several of which have been assembled into a one-woman show called Solitary Climb, which is auto-biographical, and speaks to her personal mountain climbing experiences - the struggle to the summit - and to her striving to write and to communicate new music. There are similarities! She also performs Cloud Walking, a full solo program of shorter works inspired by high places
Probably the most awe-inspiring and memorable experiences of her lifetime followed an invitation by the Aero Club of East Africa to join them in celebrating 75 years of aviation in Kenya, by performing her original, 50-minute one-woman show, Beryl Markham - Flying West With The Night, for their members. (Markham lived in Kenya and learned to fly there in the late 1920s, and she was a member of the Aero Club). While in Nairobi Diana gave two other performances of the same work, in the Karen Club (named after Karen Blixen) and the Muthaiga Club. The Aero Club, in appreciation, gave Diana and her husband a safari on the Masai Mara, including a hot-air balloon safari. It was an experience of a lifetime, never to be forgotten. Absolutely perfect, with no down-side. (Except, perhaps, the flight over the Rift Valley in a rain storm, in a small plane!) At the Leighton Artist Colony a few weeks after her return from Kenya, Diana wrote Uhuru Kamili (Swahili for "complete freedom"), for piano and percussion, to express her reaction to that balloon trip and the magnificent animals. She and Beverley Johnston premiered the work in a GroundSwell concert in Winnipeg early in 2003, and gave the Eastern Canadian premiere in a concert of Diana's music at The Music Gallery, Toronto, in April 2004.
Two CDs - The Original McIntosh and Another Byte of McIntosh, and a video, Serious Fun With McIntosh, all feature McIntosh's work exclusively, and many of her works are included on other CDs.
Compositions in Progress: Diana is in the process of writing a work featuring low flutes. The title will be "Sleep's Borderland", and is scored for 4 alto flutes, 2 bass flutes, 2 contrabass flutes, 1 sub-contrabass flute and 1 piccolo. The piece was commissioned by the international low flute specialist, Peter Sullivan, who lives in Australia.
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald said, "Virtuoso composer, pianist, show-woman - Winnipeg's Diana McIntosh - is one of the wonders of the Canadian contemporary music world. Contemporary music is not often so engaging, entertaining and delightful."
"An individual but genuinely poetic atmosphere.".................. New York Times.
"Diana McIntosh is a national treasure. She is a leading light for any composer, particularly for female composers, and she also brings a very welcome sense of humour and creativity to the concert stages of Canada."..................................................................................................Bravo TV News