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by Gareth Farr | Piano

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PROMETHEAN EDITIONS

GARETH FARR

Gem

Piano




Gareth Farr

Gem

Piano

PROMETHEAN EDITIONS

WELLINGTON


Gem (PE136), for Piano by Gareth Farr (2014)

© Promethean Editions 2014

First edition © 2017 Promethean Editions Limited

Series Editor: Ross Hendy

Editor: Ben Woods

ISBN: 978-1-877564-36-9 (print)

ISBN: 978-1-77660-136-3 (ebook)

ISMN: 979-0-67452-249-6

Promethean Editions Limited

PO Box 10-143

Wellington

NEW ZEALAND

http://www.promethean-editions.com

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by

any means without permission in writing from the Publisher.

PE136 – 2


Gareth Farr (1968)

Gareth Farr was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and began his studies in composition

and percussion performance at Auckland University. 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, NY, 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 composer to ever hold that position. This resulted in the creation of

three substantial works, his first string quartet Owhiro, Kebyar Moncar (for gamelan) and the

chamber sextet Cadenza. At the conclusion of his residence, Farr returned to the Eastman

School to begin a doctorate in composition, writing Kembang Suling for flute and marimba

(his most popular work to date) and three works for orchestra during this time.

The inclusion of his works in four events at the 1996 New Zealand International Festival

of the Arts — the score for Douglas Wright’s ballet Buried Venus; Lilith’s Dream of Ecstasy

for orchestra; Kembang Suling, and the 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, soprano,

tenor and kaikaranga), and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney (Hikoi, a concerto for

percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and the NZSO). A commission by the 2003 Auckland

Festival resulted in Stone and Ice, written for the combined forces of the NZSO and the

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Farr’s music was integral to Maui – One Man Against

the Gods, a stage show four years in the making. First premiered in 2003, it featured aerial

PE136 – 3


theatre, Māori kapa haka, contemporary dance and song, with Farr’s stirring music, and

toured a number of centres in New Zealand. In 2006 Farr was awarded the Order of New

Zealand Merit for his services to music and entertainment. That same year, the Royal New

Zealand Ballet toured the country with their brand new work The Wedding, featuring a

score by Farr. At ninety minutes, it was among the company’s most ambitious projects, and

combined Farr’s talents with those of prominent New Zealand novelist and librettist Witi

Ihimaera.

In March of 2014 Farr’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra received its world premiere

from soloist Tony Lee and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pietari

Inkenen. Its UK premiere followed one year later, with Lee backed by the BBC Philharmonic,

with conductor Tecwyn Evans. The concerto received critical acclaim with the Dominion

Post’s John Button writing “…the ear was tickled bar after bar. I have no doubt that this

marvellously inventive piano concerto is bound to develop an international life all its own.”

More recently, Farr’s score for the opera The Bone Feeder received critical praise for its

unique and imaginative articulation of intersecting cultures in New Zealand. Premiering at

the 2017 Auckland Arts Festival, Farr brought together instruments from Chinese, Western

and Māori culture to create an exotic and balanced synthesis of sounds, with David Larsen

of Metro Magazine commenting “Farr’s textures and moods are wonderful: timbres mingle

and shift in ways that are at once fascinating and symbolically appropriate.” In May of

2017 Farr’s Cello Concerto, subtitled Chemin des Dames, was premiered in Wellington, New

Zealand. Performed by French cellist Sébastien Hurtaud and the New Zealand Symphony

Orchestra, the concerto is a tribute to the soldiers who fell on the First World War battlefields

of France and Belgium, with critic William Dart stating “In a work of impeccable atmosphere,

welcoming for both players and audience, the weeping beauties of its central section stayed

with me long into the evening.”

Latest information about the composer may be found at www.garethfarr.com.

PE136 – 4


Gem (2014)

The internal dissonance of Gem’s opening theme sets the work’s mysterious tone.

Contemplative rubato wanderings, predominantly along the black keys of the piano,

periodically reach into the instrument’s upper register in short flourishes of notes.

Occasionally the work takes time to dwell there, releasing notes in delicate droplets,

particularly affecting when decorating the work’s searching theme. Momentum gathers with

accelerated ascending runs that lead to a climax of tumbling high register figures in contrary

motion with the left hand. From the sustain pedal atmosphere of the climax emerges two low,

solemn chords that signal the work’s end, though vestiges of mystery remain.

The composer writes:

Nicola has been a friend and colleague since 1989, and I have written many piano pieces

for her. This commission is particularly special to both of us being in memory of her

wonderful teacher Judith Clark. Judith was a mentor to Nicola, and a constant supporter of

me and my career. This piece is a memory of Judith’s warm loving nature, and a word that

she often used to describe her favourite little piano pieces — gem.

Gem was commissioned by Nicola Melville in memory of her teacher Judith Clark with

financial support from Creative New Zealand, the Arts Council of New Zealand, Toi Aotearoa.

It received its premiere performance by Nicola Melville at Old St John’s, Nelson, New Zealand

on 6 February 2015. Farr revised the work in early 2017, adding several measures that expand

on existing material in the middle of the work.

PE136 – 5


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Gem © 2014 Promethean Editions Limited

This Edition © 2017 Promethean Editions Limited PE136 – 6

ISMN: 979-0-67452-249-6

PE136 – 2


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PE136 – 9

PE136 – 5


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