Composer Paul Dean
Paul Dean. Photo © Trish Dean

The Birth of a Birthday Symphony

If you call a piece Symphony, the weight of history bears down on you, says Paul Dean. But when the Australian World Orchestra commissioned him to compose a work to celebrate its 10th anniversary, he embraced that challenge. As he tells Christopher Lawrence, he started off with far too many ideas. Then, inspired by sunrise and dawn birdsong, he binned his original version, rewrote the first movement, and suddenly everything fell into place.

He hails from the Sunshine State, but Paul Dean is uncharacteristically nocturnal when describing his new work. “I’m driven by this overwhelming march towards midnight,” he says. “What are...