Dean Stevenson

Musician | Songwriter | Composer

Royal Work. A commission for the Queens 90th Birthday.

Risks are good. They help break conventions and skulls. Professionally, in music, the breaking of conventions is a necessary hazard. It’s how people know you’re there. Otherwise you’re wallpaper.

This year, for Her majesty the Queens 90th birthday celebrations, Government House in Hobart took one such risk. They asked me to produce something for the occasion that would be new yet referential, risky yet respectful. I used the opportunity to engage two people I’d wanted to create with for sometime; Kelly Ottaway and Julius Schwing, and we discussed the concept. Truth be told, I think it was Kelly who first spake the idea of God Save the Queen – Theme and Variations. Well, that is what it was called in the end. Initially, the ideas ‘Meditation upon… or GSTQ Re-arranged… were bandied about, but they presented too much fog around the idea and not enough clarity of meaning for a traditional occasion.

And so…

Kelly, Julius and I began to explore phrases from GSTQ and its closest friend, the Hymn Jerusalem. What became of it was a 45 minute concert composed equally by the three of us for string quartet, brass quartet, piano, guitar, samples and taped excerpts of the coronation.

The risk factor rung on in the minds of the Governor and staff so that right up until my baton went down for the first time, everyone was a little on the edge. What was this going to sound like? How kooky were the variations going to be? Would the Queen be offended? One month earlier, I had been called into the Governor’s office and asked this question directly. They wanted to avoid any unpleasant complications given the gravity of the occasion. I played them a freshly composed example from my laptop of a brass quartet piece with the working title God Save the Brass Quartet, which I had penned not two days earlier (phew!). They liked it, (phew!) and we went on…cautiously.


Did it work? Did we vary too much? Was there anything left of the regal theme and its potency? The Governor and staff seemed overjoyed with the result (phew!). So much so the next night a camera crew was employed to film it and send it to Buckingham Palace the following day in time for London’s celebrations for the Queen in the Mall. Did the Queen see it? Not sure. Haven’t heard yet. But, personally, I couldn’t be happier with the process, the outcome and the story to tell.


The concert is linked below. Enjoy.



In Time – Ten years on

Wow. 10 years since the release of In Time. My second album, but first made in Tasmania where I fully embraced the idea that I was a musician for life. My first albums were more like ‘collections’; being random assemblages of what I knew to be music at the time, Which wasn’t much to crow about. *sigh

In 2006 I was many things. Mostly just keen. Not too clever, but my keen made up for what or whom I did not know. I did know that I wanted to make a splash; at least locally. There were a handful of bands in Hobart at the time releasing albums they were also proud of. But I struggled with their launching process. Who were they doing it for? And for what? To release an album for the people is to play it to as many as you can as often as you can. To do it for yourself, was to have a lunch gig, sit back in the glow of it all until a year later, you remember you have 10 boxes of unsold CDs under your bed and no one knows your name anymore. Above all, I wanted to launch a career.

So we recorded in Red Planet, and to launch it we chose the Theatre Royal in Hobart – the oldest operating theatre in the country. A teeny weeny Lascala, but a mighty place to propose yourself in Tasmania. We recorded (too much), rehearsed (not enough), got a camera crew, made flyers and pretty soon the theatre filled up. My family were filled with the gala of it all. For a local singer songwriter, it looked like a big deal, a big venture. Most bands at the time were launching albums at local pubs. Good fun, but I think I got the platform I was looking for in terms of ‘Launch’.

So, 10 years on. So much music since then. The changes along the way have often made me dizzy. I’m still proud.


All songs © Dean Stevenson.

Album Band:

Guitar and Voice: Dean Stevenson

Guitar: Dave Wilson

Bass: Pat Breen

Drums: Shayne Rogers

Hammond: Randal Muir

Rhodes: Kelly Ottaway

Horns: Les Johnston and Chris Williams

Produced by Stewart Long. Assistant producer: Al Future.



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