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Gareth Farr

Arranger, Composer, Performer

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Born: 1968

Biography

Gareth Farr (b.1968) began his studies in composition and percussion performance at the University of Auckland. The experience of hearing a visiting gamelan orchestra prompted his return to Wellington to attend Victoria University, where the characteristic rhythms and textures of the Indonesian gamelan rapidly became hallmarks of his own composition. Farr continued with postgraduate study in composition and percussion at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where his teachers included Samuel Adler and Christopher Rouse. In 1993, at the age of 25, Farr was appointed composer-in-residence by Chamber Music New Zealand, the youngest-ever composer to hold that position. This resulted in the composition of three substantial works, Owhiro (String Quartet No.1), Kebyar Moncar for gamelan, and the chamber sextet Cadenza.

At the conclusion of the residence, Farr returned to the Eastman School to begin a doctorate in composition. As well as composing Kembang Suling for flute and marimba (his most popular work to date) and three works for orchestra during his time, Farr also introduced audiences to his on-stage alter ego, the percussion-playing drag queen Lilith Lacroix. The inclusion of his works in four events at the 1996 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts – the ballet score for Douglas Wright’s Buried Venus, Lilith’s Dream of Ecstasy for orchestra, Kembang Suling, and the Bach-in-Bali piano solo Sepuluh Jari kick-started his career as a dedicated freelance composer. Since then, his music has been heard at, or especially commissioned for high-profile events including the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (the 25-minute From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs), the opening of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa, for orchestra with soprano, tenor and kaikaranga (indigenous New Zealand Maori chant), a work hailed as ‘music with a powerful and moving impact that transcends idiom and individual taste’), and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney (Hikoi, a concerto for percussionist Evelyn Glennie and the NZSO).

A commission by the 2003 Auckland Festival resulted in the massive Stone and Ice, composed for the combined forces of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Gareth Farr’s music is particularly influenced by his extensive study of percussion, both Western and non-Western. Rhythmic elements of his compositions can be seen to derive from the complex and exciting rhythms of Rarotongan log drum ensembles, Balinese gamelan and other percussion music of the Pacific Rim. Naturally, percussion has always been a central focus of Farr’s music, and in 2003-04, he produced a number of works either specifically for or premiered by the STRIKE percussion ensemble, with which he has had a long and fruitful association. As well as the ferocious percussion quartet Pukul, there are two major works featuring concertante parts for percussion ensemble, Onslaught for brass band and percussion and the Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra. The latter work was the result of a commission from the Wellington City Council and the Wellington Sinfonia (now Orchestra Wellington) to compose a work in celebration of the centenary of the city’s Town Hall. In addition to his music for the concert chamber, Farr has written music for dance, theatre and television.

In 2006, the Royal New Zealand Ballet toured the country with their brand new work The Wedding, featuring a score by Gareth Farr. He has had a fruitful career writing music for the stage, including Maui – One Man Against the Gods (2003), and five comedy musicals produced with librettist and director Paul Jenden. In 2007 Farr was appointed as Composer-In-Residence for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra culminating in 2008 with the premiere of Ex Stasis a symphonic song cycle for four soloists. In 2008 Farr also celebrated the world premiere of his work Terra Incognita, for bass baritone solo, choir and orchestra, performed by Paul Whelan and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Gareth’s music was also played by the NZSO in Beijing as part of the 2008 Olympic Games, and in the opening ceremony of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

His work for strings and mezzo soprano, Relict Furies was performed at the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival with soloist mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly and the Scottish Ensemble. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra was performed in 2015 by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and, most recently, his Cello Concerto was premiered in 2017 by the NZSO and subsequently in France by the Orchestre National de Lorraine.

[Information about Gareth Farr and his music for film and television can also be found on the NZ Onscreen website.]

In 2006 Gareth was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for his services to music and entertainment, in 2010 he was a recipient of the prestigious NZ Arts Laureate Award, and in 2014 he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from The University of Auckland.


Composed (144)

Acid Euphoria

for gamelan and three percussionists, 6m


Ahi

for piano trio, 16m


Ahi ataahua

for percussion quartet and male voice


Anniversary Antics

for 16 solo strings


Aoraki

for soprano, Maori instruments, percussion and synthesizer, 7m


Beowulf

for orchestra, 10m


Bintang

for two pianos - eight hands, 5m 30s


Cadenza

for piccolo, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion, 12m


Cello Concerto: Chemin des Dames

for cello and orchestra, 25m


Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra

for four percussion soloists and orchestra, 20m


Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

for orchestra and solo piano


Denpasar Moon

arrangement of the song by Colin Bass aka Sabah Habas Mustapha for voice, electric bass and gamelan, 4m 2s


Dialogue

for marimba and vibraphone, 10m


Dua Lagu

for piano, 8m


Dua Lagu

for piano - 6 hands, 8m


Duggan

music for orchestra and gamelan for television series


Duggan theme

for flute and marimba, 1m 3s


Duggan theme

for marimba and vibraphone, 1m 38s


El Senor Cucharita se pone enfermo

for soprano, saxophone and piano


Etude

for solo piano, 1m 40s


Etude no. 1 - from Duggan

for solo marimba, 1m


Etude no. 2 - for Jeremy Fitzsimons

for solo marimba, 2m 8s


Ex Stasis

a symphonic song cycle for four voices and orchestra


Fanfare for the Phil

for orchestra


Five Little Monologues

for clarinet duo, 5m


Formalities

for solo marimba


Frenzy

for string quartet, 9m


From Forgotten Forests

for solo harp, 8m


Funambulistic Strains

for trombone and orchestra


Gareth Plays the Drawbridge

Percussion duo for the John Drawbridge mural at the National Library, Wellington


Gem

for piano solo, 3m 30s


Goa Lawah (Bat Cave)

for saxophone quartet, 5m


He Poroporoaki (Saying Goodbye)

for string quartet and taonga puoro, 5m


He Tango mo Elena

tango for orchestra, solo violin, tenor and Kapa Haka, 7m


He Wawata

Arrangement of Maori traditional song for Soprano, Baritone and Piano, 3m


Headrush

for gamelan


Hikoi

concerto for percussion and large orchestra, 30m


Illumina

for solo soprano, mixed choir and percussion


Into The Chasm

for two pianos - eight hands, 9m


Jangan Lupa

for piano, 3m


Kaitiaki

for choir and orchestra


Kembang Suling

for flute and marimba, 10m


Kendang Kalih

For two percussionists, 7m


La Próxima Vez (Next Time Around)

for female vocal sextet


Le Temps est a la pluie

for chamber orchestra, 8m


Les Murray Song Cycle

for two sopranos, contralto, tenor, baritone and bass, 13m


Lilith's Dream of Ecstasy

for large orchestra, 10m


Lima Gending

for three recorders


Little Sea Gongs

for percussion quartet, 3m


Love Songs

miniatures for solo piano, 6m


Mad Little Machine

for wind quintet, 5m


Madrigal

for clarinet and piano


Meditation (clarinet version)

for clarinet and piano, 7m


Meditation (saxophone version)

for alto saxophone and piano, 7m


Meditation (viola version)

for viola and piano, 7m


Mondo Rondo

for string quartet, 12m


Mondo Rondo

arranged for piano trio


Mouse hole

for solo piano, 5m


Movement

for clarinet and piano, 7m


Music from a High Altitude

for piano, percussion, cello and clarinet, 12m


Naga Baba

for chamber orchestra, 18m


Nga Kete e Toru

written with Richard Nunns for piano trio and taonga puoro


Nga Tai Hurihuri

for soprano, kaikarangi and percussion quartet, 7m


Nga whetu e whitu

for flute and piano, 14m


Only the Rocks Remain

for soprano and wind octet, 15m


Onslaught

for brass band and percussion, 9m 30s


Orakau

for bass voice and orchestra, 13m


Pagan Prayer

for soprano, percussion quartet, two trombones and two bass trombones


Pandemonia's spells

for solo organ


Pembuka'an

fanfare for orchestra, 4m


Penataan

movement for orchestra, 10m


Piano Concerto

for piano and orchestra, 20m


Premonition

for B flat clarinet, 9m


Pukul

for percussion quintet, 9m


Queen of Demons

for symphony orchestra, 12m


Rain

for piano


Ramayana

for piano, 5m


Rangitoto

for percussion quartet and orchestra, 7m


Rehu Ma Tangi

for four recorders, puoro Maori soli and recorder ensemble


Relict Furies

for mezzo-soprano and string orchestra, 12m


Rome - the musical

for soloists and ensemble


Rona e te marama

for Balinese and Javanese Gamelan combined, 10m


Ruaumoko

for full orchestra with percussion interludes, 27m


Saraswati

for soprano, violin and three marimbas, 10m


Saxcession

for saxophone quartet


Sepuluh Jari

for piano, 9m


Shadow of the Hawk

for piano and cello, 11m


Spook

for solo marimba with 5-octave range, 10m


Spring Flames

music for film


Still Sounds Lie

For Soprano and Harp, 8m


Stone and Ice

for large orchestra


Tabuh Pacific (Pacific Percussion)

a concerto-style work for Gamelan and orchestra, 17m


Taheke

for flute and harp, 12m


Taku Tamaiti E

for voice


Tangaroa

for solo marimba with 5-octave range, 10m


Tangi Haehae

for two women's voices and percussion, 4m


Tangi Te Kawekawea

for SATB choir and percussion, 3m


Taniwha

for bassoon and percussion


Tawhirimatea

for brass band, 9m


Te Papa

for orchestra with mezzo-soprano, tenor and soprano (Maori karanga) soloists, 10m


Te Papa - Log drum 'n' bass mix

rework of original work for soloists and orchestra, 5m 17s


Te Papa - Urenui Mix

reworked from version from original version for orchestra and soloists by the composer, 4m 17s


Te Parenga

suite for clarinet, percussion and strings, 8m


Te Puna o Waiwhetu

for wind orchestra


Te Tai-O-Rehua

for string quartet


Te Wairua o Te Whenua

for orchestra, soprano, bass, Maori Kapa Haka artists, 20m


Terra Incognita

for bass voice, SATB choir and orchestra, 11m 30s


The Ballad of Glady's Dream

For solo voice with tape/electronics


The Bone Feeder

an opera for twelve singers and chamber ensemble, 1h 20m


The End of the Golden Weather

for solo clarinet


The Horizon from Owhiro Bay

a "landscape prelude" for piano, 3m


The Last Pace

for orchestra


The Mad Dog Bites Again

for saxophone quartet and percussion, 4m


The Nor'west Arch

for brass band, with spoken text, 10m


The Strip

music for television


Three Little Pieces for Eve

for percussion and piano, 6m


Time and Tide

for violin, marimba and chamber orchestra, 17m


Tirohia atu nei

for choir (SSAATB) and percussion, 6m


Toccata

for harp, 6m


Triple Concerto

for piano trio and orchestra, 22m


Tuatara

for percussion and piano, 9m


Tubes

for percussion quartet, 7m


Ukare Funk

for percussion quartet, 6m 30s


Uri Taniwha

for high voice, taonga puoro, and gamelan, 5m


Volume Pig

for percussion quartet, 12m


Vula Canon

for string orchestra with tubular bells, 5m


Waipiro

for brass band, 10m


Waipoua

for clarinet in A and piano, 5m


Waipoua

for clarinet and string orchestra, 5m


Waka

for orchestra with solo voice (kaikaranga), 9m


Wakatipu

for solo violin, 6m


Warriors from Pluto

concerto for five percussion soli and double string orchestra, 17m


Whakamaua kia u

For voice and percussion, 4m



Arranged (1)

Denpasar Moon

arrangement of the song by Colin Bass aka Sabah Habas Mustapha for voice, electric bass and gamelan, 4m 2s



Recordings (34)

Ahi - The Ogen Trio

Audio/visual


Brass Aotearoa - CD

Audio/visual


Elena

Audio/visual


Elena's Cultural Symphony

Nz recordings not by sounz composers


Estrella: Tui - CD

Audio/visual


Gareth Farr - Tangaroa

Audio/visual


Gareth Farr: Horizon

Audio/visual


Gareth Farr: Owhiro

Audio/visual


Gareth Farr: Ruaumoko

Audio/visual


Helen Webby: Pluck

Audio/visual


Island Song

Audio/visual


Love's Nature

Audio/visual


Symphony of Sails

Audio/visual


Tabuh Pacific

Audio/visual



Resources (28)

Canzona 1997 Vol 18 no 39

Commentary or analysis


Farr from Heaven

Media on demand


How to Hear Classical Music

Commentary or analysis


On Disk: Composers

Education resource



Performances (1)

Martinborough Music Festival

Featuring: Wilma Smith, violin Diedre Irons, piano Mark Walton, clarinet Amalia H...