Saam Thorne


Saam showed a precocious talent for music, commencing piano and violin lessons at the age of six. Though she had an affinity with the violin, it wasn’t until, on entering secondary school, she swapped violin for viola that she found her niche. As a Special Interest music student at Marryatville High School, she excelled at music, participating in many ensembles and choirs, including a jazz vocal group. She showed an aptitude for composition, attending 1992 National Music Camp as one of 5 students under the guidance of Stephen Leek.
On matriculating with a Merit in Music Performance (composition), Saam continued her music education at Flinders Street School of Music & Elder Conservatorium, under David Harris, Graeme Koehne and Stephen Whittington. She also carried on studying piano and viola, with Diana Harris and Richard Hornung. Saam was a member of several ensembles, including ACME New Music Ensemble, for whom she wrote several works, Adelaide Youth Orchestra, and Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra. She was also a long-time member of Flinders Street choir Voiceworks and in 2000 toured Europe with them. She was a sought after chamber musician and her string quartet participated in a masterclass with Brodsky Quartet in 1998.
Whilst at Uni, Saam became involved in musical theatre, playing for a variety of amateur and professional companies around Adelaide. Highlights include the first Australian amateur production of Les Miserables with Mayfair Theatre Company (and a subsequent 4 more productions!), State Opera’s Mikado, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and Into The Woods with The Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and Musical Directing for Adelaide Theatre Guild’s production of Ring The Bell Softly, There’s Crepe On The Door as part of the Centenary of Women’s Suffrage celebrations in 1994.
Following her tertiary studies, Saam worked in music retail for several years, while also teaching, playing and singing. At this time she decided to pursue singing seriously, and is currently preparing for her ABRSM Diploma recital. She has sung with several choirs, including Adelaide Chamber Singers, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and Lumina. Saam is also a founding member of Lyrebyrd, an early music instrumental offshoot of Lumina.
While employed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Saam picked up her pencil again, and wrote Song and Pain for Lumina’s inaugural Composers’ Workshop in 2007. Her latest work, The Eternal Struggle will be premiered at Lumina’s 2010 Adelaide Fringe performance, Angels vs. Demons.

As a composer, Saam has also written several vocal works for Lumina, including Song and pain. This was written for Lumina’s inaugural Composers’ Workshop in 2007 and has been included in Lumina’s 2009 CD Lay a garland.

In 2009, she completed the three-part work The Eternal Struggle, premiered in Lumina’s 2010 Fringe concert Angels vs Demons (See below for a summary of the work).

Saam's latest work Wonambi (rainbow serpant) was written for the 2013 Fringe concert Aardvarks and Armadillos.


The Eternal Struggle

The Eternal Struggle explores the role of demons in the larger scheme of things. Are they just here to trip us up, or do they have a higher purpose, a raison d’être of their own?

In The Common Perception of Demons we see them as humans have historically portrayed them: wily tricksters tempting humans from the path of good and collecting souls for hell. The music is a stomping, clapping whirlwind of a dance, lots of fun for the demons, not so much for the humans. The rhyming lyrics add to the carnival aspect with the demons laughing and poking fun at the poor humans caught in their machinations.

By contrast, The Truth of Demonic Existence shows us a cold, dark, lonely place, where the demon ponders why it has come to be there. It begins to seek answers for its actions and wonders if there is a way out of this miserable existence. Once it reaches this turning point, things start to become clearer and distant memories of happier times start to surface.

Segueing into Striving for Perfection, the demon realises that as an evolving soul, there comes a time when you must descend to the lowest plane of existence if you wish to move forward spiritually. The demon has experienced this lesson and now has the knowledge to ascend to the next level of being, closer to the universal source of life. As it puts this knowledge to use, its outward appearance changes, wings appear and the demon can now hasten towards its fellow spirits, who themselves have been through the same transition.

The heavenly music we hear is actually a paraphrase of Thomas Tallis’s great 40 part motet, Spem in Alium. Obviously 40 voices is not so ideal logistically, so I have pared it down to 10 parts, while still retaining the ecstatic layered sound of the original. Tallis’s text is also changed, with demons substituted for man in the phrase, ‘and who forgives all the sins of suffering man’.

I am indebted to Australian author Traci Harding for opening my mind to the possibilities regarding the soul’s journey. Her books detailing the exploits of Tory Alexander and her cohorts are a wonderful fantasy...or are they?