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Gareth Farr


Gareth Farr's music has been performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia and the NZ String Quartet. He has composed for ballet, theatre, contemporary dance, and television (Kaitangata Twitch, Clare, Duggan). Farr is also an accomplished percussionist, who has regularly performed with the NZSO.

Farr's music is heavily influenced by Indonesian gamelan, Māori Kapahaka, Taiko and Pacific Islands drumming. Farr also dons sequins and stilettos when appearing as his alter ego Lilith LaCroix, the drumming drag queen of live show Drumdrag.

Among other events, Farr was commissioned to create music for the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and the opening of Te Papa museum. He composed the percussion concerto, Hikoi for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

Gareth Farr was born in Wellington, 1968, to a veteran trade unionist father and a writer mother. He studied composition and percussion performance at Auckland University. Later at Victoria University, Farr's compositions increasingly began to use the rhythms and textures of the set of Indonesian musical instruments known as the gamelan.

Farr went on to New York's Eastman School of Music, where he studied composition and graduated with a Masters of Music. In 1993, at age 25, he was appointed composer-in-residence by Chamber Music New Zealand. Farr was the youngest ever composer to hold the position. Three works resulted: Owhiro (String Quartet No. 1), Kebyar Moncar (for gamelan), and the chamber sextet Cadenza. In 2008, Farr premiered his work Terra Incognita Terra Incognita, and became Composer in Residence of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

Farr has written for a number of TV dramas. He composed the soundtrack for Gibson Group TV movie Clare (2000), based on one of the women caught up in the "unfortunate experiment" at Auckland's National Women's Hospital. His other work for the Wellington-based company includes shows Duggan (1999), The Strip (2002), about a corporate lawyer who opens a strip club, and period docudrama Nancy Wake - The White Mouse (2014). After composing the music for disaster tele-movie Eruption (2010) he was nominated for an Aotearoa TV award the following year for Gibson Group tele-movie Panic at Rock Island.

Farr's short film scores include Dead Letters (2006), a World War II-era romance directed by actor Paolo Rotondo, and Spring Flames (2002), an ensemble piece in a clothes factory featuring Toi Whakaari drama students.

Farr from Heaven (2006), made for documentary series Artsville, chronicles a busy six month period in Farr's life, as he composes and rehearses pieces of music for Toi Whakaari, a Gallipoli commemoration, and Kiwi percussion ensemble Strike. Farr was also the subject of an earlier doco, the Michael Heath-directed Between Two Worlds (1996). Heath has argued that it was extensively recut against his wishes, a victim of political correctness and homophobia.

Since then Farr has composed for Margaret Mahy fantasy series Kaitangata Twitch and one-off Brian Brake documentary Painting with Light. Both were directed by Clare helmer Yvonne Mackay. For Kaitangata Twitch, Farr worked with Māori instrument expert Richard Nunns to create music and sound effects to create the impression of an island possessed.

Sources include
Gareth Farr website. Accessed 6 October 2017
Michael Heath