March 4, 1937-December 16, 2022

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Manitoba composer, pianist and sound artist, Diana McIntosh. Diana was one of GroundSwell’s founding Artistic Directors and a mainstay on the new music scene in Canada for five decades. GroundSwell’s board and staff wishes to offer condolences to Diana’s family and friends and to her countless collaborators.
The extraordinary life and accomplishments of Diana McIntosh were celebrated on Sunday, February 5th from 2 to 4 pm, at the University Women’s Club (54 West Gate). You can watch the video here

Please also see Diana’s obituary and feel free to add some thoughts to the guestbook.


Gordon Fitzell and Victoria Sparks
Laurel Ridd and Ben Reimer

“Diana McIntosh is probably the only composer/performer who has performed in the cargo bay of a Bristol Freighter aeroplane (at the Western Canada Aviation Museum); on top of an airport control tower – per photo – (at Old Warden Aerodrome, England); in the Royal Canadian Mint, (Winnipeg Branch); in the Scottish National Aviation Museum (East Lothian, Scotland); in The Canadian Aviation Museum (Ottawa); in The Aero Club of East Africa, and the Karen and Muthaiga Clubs (in Nairobi, Kenya); as well as at the Copall Equestrian Centre (in Winnipeg).” – From


Memories of Diana McIntosh

By Karen Sunabacka

My first two memories of Diana McIntosh are from Winnipeg’s New Music Festival in the late 1990’s. The first was a piano concerto titled 9 foot clearance that was commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra where she interlaced theatre into the performance. There are numerous theatrical elements, but at one point the conductor and piano fall in love, flirting and leaning towards each other. Maestro Bramwell Tovey and Diana performed this beautifully and it was incredibly funny.

The second performance I remember was during a small ensemble night, where Diana performed a piece for voice and electronics called Doubletalk. I remember the sounds coming from speakers all around us and Diana vocally and physically engaging with the sounds without text. The performance was again quirky, fascinating, and funny.

Both these pieces engaged me in ways that were new and exciting. At the time I was a new University student starting to think about composition. Before University I had grown up playing cello and singing in children’s choirs where I was generally trained in baroque, classical and romantic music and I found contemporary music weird and dissonant. It was hard for me to understand why people would write new music. Diana’s music bridged that gap and helped me to see the fun and interesting side of new music. But she also expanded for me the definition of new music. It didn’t all have to be boring, dissonant, and serious. And there could be stories and comedy within the music. Then as I later discovered, while I analyzed Doubletalk in my PhD dissertation, there were distinctive themes that addressed issues relating to women, music, and technology. As a young woman composer this was significant. (And I wonder now what I would discover through an analysis of her concerto?)   

I joined the GroundSwell board in 2007 when I moved back to Winnipeg after my PhD studies, and was lucky to see her in action right until 2020 when she resigned as an Artistic Director (she was adamant that she was not retiring!) It was only at this time that I realized she was in her 80’s.

Diana McIntosh was a great pianist, composer and performance artist. She was quirky, fearless, and inventive. But she was also able to explore serious issues such the story of David Milgaard or pollution of the Great Lakes. She was a unique female voice in a music world often gendered male. She helped me to find my voice and I know that she influenced many others. She will be missed.

 GroundSwell founders L to R standing:  Therese Costes, William Pura, Michael Matthews; L to R seated; Diana McIntosh, Jim Hiscott.  Photo credit: unknown.