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Works by Farr Feature in Christchurch Memorial Concert

Sep 26th, 2011

A host of works by Gareth Farr featured in the Christchurch Arts Festival's Memorial concert, held at the Airforce Museum, Wigram, New Zealand on 25 September 2011. Among the works presented were Gallipoli, Warriors from Pluto (arr. Hickman), Pukul and the world premiere of Nor'West Arch, presented by Woolston Brass Band and Strike Percussion.

Nor'West Arch was written to commemorate the Christchurch Earthquake of February 2011. The title of the work has a dual meaning; a nor'west arch is a term common in the Canterbury region that is given to the arrival of spring to the Canterbury region bringing new life, it also the name of part of Christchurch Cathedral, which was devastated in the earthquake. While Farr has said there are uplifting moments, he says 'there is a lot of sadness in the piece? I found it hard to write an uplifting work.'

Also featured in the programme was Gallipoli, renamed for this concert, it is also titled Onslaught, which was commissioned by the New Zealand Army Band to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915. Murray Hickman, founder and leader of Strike percussion ensemble arranged Farr's Warriors from Pluto for soli percussion and brass band from the original for soli percussion and double string orchestra. Farr was inspired to write Warriors from Pluto after the suggestion to him that he write an eighth movement to Gustav Holst's orchestral suite The Planets, which was written before Pluto's discovery. After Farr began writing the work, he discovered that another composer had already been commissioned to write a work based on Pluto for the same reason, so he decided to change the focus; instead of an earthling's view of what Pluto might be like, this work is a 'Plutan's' vision of the planet Earth. Showcasing the virtuosity of Strike percussion ensemble, they also performed Farr's percussion work Pukul in this concert. Pukul (which means 'strike' in Indonesian) is a relentlessly powerful percussion quintet. In writing this work, Farr was inspired by the complex rhythms of Balinese Gamelan music as well as other styles ranging from Rarotongan drumming to rock music and John Cage.

For more information about the Christchurch Arts Festival, visit

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