Harley Mead M.Mus.St. LTCL, B. Teach, B.Ed, A. MusA, C.Mus.A

“When we gather together to sing peaceful unity, everyone knows that the children are free.
All that we ask is be kind to each other so we can have hope for today.
Hate is not a natural feeling, for children it can only be taught.
Laughing, singing, innocent harmony – listen to the children.”
Harley Mead (lyrics from Kusikiliza Kwa Watoto)

Harley Mead (1971-2014) is a well known Australian composer, conductor and educator who was regarded not only for his expertise as a teacher and musician but also for his ability to inspire and encourage others. He had a passion for composing which began at age 14 while growing up in the Blue Mountains of NSW and subsequently he became the first Australian to have completed his Licentiate Diploma in Composition through Trinity College Guildhall London in 2007.

As an educator, he worked throughout Australia and overseas, developing music education programs which catered for the wide range of needs for young musicians. Harley believed that humility, integrity and generosity were far more important than the public acknowledgement of successes in life and he rarely spoke of his expansive list of achievements. He is the recipient of an Australia Day Award, two awards from the National Excellence in Teaching Committee and an award for ‘Innovative Education’ presented by the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME). He also received a prestigious composition Award of Second Place in an International Composition Competition in Northern Italy in 2013.

Harley’s work as a young teacher, in Far North Queensland developed his interest in the music of Australian Indigenous people. Several works for choir or small vocal groups incorporate traditional instruments using a fusion of traditional and non-traditional notation.

Early on in his career he wrote the early childhood music program called 'I Can Sing Rainbows' and throughout his career he developed programs for primary, secondary and tertiary students, including a program for the Gifted and Talented music students in Malaysia at Sri Cempaka International Schools in 2010.

His final pieces were written in Toowoomba, where he had become an integral part of a community with a rich musical heritage. It was here during his position as Head of Performing Arts at Toowoomba Grammar School, that his research into boys and education culminated in the publication of ‘B@SS - Boys at School Succeed’ and formed the basis of his doctoral thesis; ‘Creative Boys- How Boys Invent, Improvise, Innovate and ‘Imaginate’.

His compositions, of approximately 100 titles, have been performed widely across Australia and overseas, including Argentina, Canada, New Zealand, England, Alaska, Uganda, Thailand and Malaysia. They include a variety of styles and themes and have been written for individuals, schools and community organisations. Some of these include; Brisbane Riverfestival (2005 & 2006), Queensland Music Festival (2007), ANCA Qld, the Australian Boys Choir (Melbourne), Pemulwuy! National Male Voice Festival (2008, 2011 Australia), Toowoomba Sing Out, Sydney Grammar School (2014) Toowoomba Choral Society (2014) Sri Cempaka (2011 Malaysia), KwaYa (2011 Uganda), Queensland Songbridge 2006 & 2008, Education Queensland Singfest, New England Conservatorium of Music (2014) and Voices of Birralee (Brisbane), Gondwana National Choral School 2011-2013.

Harley's compositions range from simple unison songs to full-scale orchestral and choral works. He often uses a mixture of instruments and vocal timbers to explore and enhance the colours and palette of his musical vocabulary. Harley loved the story-telling aspect of music-making and his motivation to write was to enrich the lives of those who performed and heard his music. His friendship with Australian composer Paul Jarman (who was often fondly referred to as his twin brother) only served to reinforce Harley’s passion for bringing communities together through music. He was passionate about encouraging and mentoring singers and young conductors and for this reason published his book 'Maestro' in 2013. It is designed to support choral musicians in a positive, light-hearted and anecdotal manner.

Much of Harley’s remarkable creative output was channelled towards children’s choirs, as he had an undisputed giftedness to engage with children of all ages and backgrounds. His ability to captivate and engage a crowd, no matter how large was extraordinary. This talent was never more demonstrated than during his visit to Uganda in 2011 as Music Director of KwaYa and his work with the African Children's Choir. Scott Lambie (Director of Development African Children's Choir) reminds us in his tribute that Harley cut through the barriers, drew people together and taught us all something about putting everything aside and finding the same beat.
'Having only seen a few 'Mazungus' (white men) in their short lifetimes, the shy children from the slums of Kampala don't quite know what to make of Harley Mead as he sings, jumps, dances and slaps himself silly in an effort to entertain and make this a day they will never forget.' Marsha Gusti (President KwaYa)
Lyn Williams OAM (Gondwana Voices) acknowledged his skill and charisma by inviting him to join the conducting team of Australia's National Gondwana Choral Summer School in 2011; which he continued for three years.

As a presenter, Harley’s intellect and ability to deliver his research material in a captivating manner resulted in a tireless schedule of engagements. He frequented many Australian music conferences and events and a vast number of schools throughout the country.

Friend and colleague, Peter Ingram states that during Harley's appointment as President of ANCA Qld & NT Branch (2012-2014) he served with distinction and was the driving force behind the Queensland Choral Convention held on the Gold Coast in June 2014.

Artistic Director of Opera Queensland, Lindy Hume was immediately spellbound by his energy and positivity during his appointment as Chorus Master of OperaQ's Project Puccini in 2014.

Following his tragic passing in September 2014, his life's legacy has been preserved through his music, which is available through this website. The expansive list of tributes received, the personal acknowledgements on the Harley Mead Appreciation Society Facebook page, the donations towards his legacy, all communicate with deep respect, the impact his life has had on the communities, which he touched. As it has been said, ‘It is often the flame that burns the brightest, that burns the quickest.’

Harley is survived by his three sons, Tiernan, Michael and Finbar who are now beneficiaries of the trust.

Governance and accountability of his legacy is overseen by Peter Ingram, Julie Christiansen OAM, Paul Holley and Josephine Bottrell.