Composition a winner

Smithton High School grade nine student Julia Parker will fly over Antarctica after winning the Bookend Trust’s Cave ART competition, pictured with music teacher and pianist on the winning entry, David Buchanan. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

Competition. For the second time in as many years, a Smithton High School student will be experiencing the flight of a lifetime over remote Antarctica.

Grade nine student Julia Parker was named joint-winner of Bookend Trust’s Cave ART competition for her original musical piece ‘Vocavi Musica’, composed with the help of music teacher and pianist David Buchanan.

Julia follows grade ten student Callum Poke in taking out the remarkable prize, after his four-dimensional diorama based on artist John Kelly’s blogs earned him praise late last year.

“I was just shocked,” Julia said after receiving a phone call from Bookend Trust earlier this month. “I didn’t think I was going to win.”

Mr Buchanan added: “She was speechless for a while!”

The pair combined at the beginning of last term after Julia travelled to Honeycomb Cave in Mole Creek; this year’s competition focusing on the nature and mystery of Tasmania’s caves.

“It was new, I’d never been in a cave before,” she said.

“When we saw it, it was so different to what I thought it’d be . . . It’s more than just a hole.”

She then began the tedious task of creating an original piece using her violin coupled with Mr Buchanan’s piano samples, drawing inspiration from the natural formation of the cave by water and erosion.

Over hours of production work, the samples were mixed on the computer to edit and compile sounds for the final product.

“I probably would’ve described the process as ‘pulling teeth’ in the nicest possible way!” Mr Buchanan laughed. “I don’t know how many times we brainstormed ideas.”

The piece, an easy-listening arrangement of violin and piano, was described by Bookend Trust judges as “simply beautiful and sensitive” with “an ability to evoke space in sound”.

The duo were both pleased with the end product when they heard it played on local radio, with Julia looking forward to “everything” about the trip in February next year.

Mr Buchanan said the competition had been a fantastic experience for a school with a strong musical focus, believing Callum’s initiative and interest in the idea last year paved the way for other students in the future.

“That was quite satisfying, that someone would take it on like that,” Mr Buchanan said.

“It’s good for the school – it’s nice to be putting positive stuff like this into the community.”