CREATIVE COLLABORATION: Simon Cleary surrounded by students of Dalby State High School, singing a song based on Mr Cleary's book, the War Artist.
CREATIVE COLLABORATION: Simon Cleary surrounded by students of Dalby State High School, singing a song based on Mr Cleary's book, the War Artist.

Author honoured with music based on novel

AS AN author and barrister, Simon Cleary admitted the world of music and composition was somewhat of “a different world” for him.

But music will now remain an important part of Mr Cleary’s life thanks to the work of Helen Gleeson and her inspired young music class.

Dalby State High School’s senior music class have written music based on Mr Cleary’s novel, The War Artist, and will be debuting the pieces in a performance next month.

“What a thrill,” Mr Cleary said.

“It’s an amazing thing to have this creative collaboration going on.

“It’s great to have this one art form, this written art form be picked up and creatively transformed into another artwork entirely and to reach a different audience because of that.

“I’m incredibly thrilled about all of it.”

The novel explores questions about cost of war and follows a journey of healing from the perspective of three central characters: a soldier, his wife, and a tattoo artist.

The story was born out of Mr Cleary’s interest in tattooing as an art form, as well as personal anecdotes from Mr Cleary’s grandfather who served in the first World War.

“He experienced things he wished he hadn’t while he was on the western front,” Mr Cleary said.

“And he was a changed man in some ways when he came back to the Darling Downs.”

The songs tell the stories of the central characters and the adversities they overcome.

Not only has the project allowed the students to explore creative license under the guidance of their teachers, it has also combined community and curriculum to help further the students in their education.

Mr Cleary couldn’t help but be overcome with emotion after hearing a preview of the music for the first time at the school last week, even shedding a tear during the performance.

Despite having created the work that the students would be basing their performances on, Mr Cleary said he had no nerves heading into the project.

“I feel entirely confident and comfortable that however these students interpret the music will be just perfect for them,” he said.

“Whatever it will be, will be a creative miracle of sorts.”

The students will be debuting the music, created in collaboration with Queensland ensemble Topology, on November 1 at the Great Hall.


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