For the third concert, which will take place on Sunday, Southern Cross Soloists have taken another step beyond matching words and music to creating music specifically with the words in mind. It began when Munro handed Dean a small, award-winning book of poems by Brisbane poet Sam Wagan Watson called Smoke Encrypted Whispers, and said: "I'd like you to read this."
Dean admits he's not a great reader, unlike his brother Brett, who devours everything from the classics to contemporary. It was Brett who brought Paul back to reading, when he'd almost stopped altogether after the birth of his children, by suggesting he read Nick Earls's fast-paced, comic novels based in Brisbane. Earls's writing has become one ofthe future projects for the Music and Words concerts.
Despite not knowing anything about Watson or his poems, Dean took the book with him when the family headed off on a camping holiday, and as he walked, canoed, did all the camping-type things, he found himself "stewing over these incredible poems".
"I tried to jot down some notes, trying to compose a list of music that would go with these poems, and I came up with a list of precisely none," he says. "So I thought, why don't we commission a composer to write an interlude for each of the 23 poems?" Dean's next thought was panic. If he commissioned the wrong composer, the result would be two hours of tedium, which was not what he wanted to offer an audience, especially as he had fallen in love with Watson's sharp, romantic, poignant odes to contemporary life in a slightly complacent city full of memories and hopes.