18 September 2012
Article from Hawke's Bay Today by Amy Shanks.
A new work by esteemed Kiwi composer Gareth Farr will make its world debut on stage at Napier Municipal Theatre tonight.
The piece, titled Mad Little Machine, is Farr's first for a wind ensemble and will be performed by Zephyr - a quintet kicking off their 10-centre Chamber Music New Zealand "Kaleidoscopes" tour in Napier.
The tune was inspired by rhythms and showed off Farr's colourful personality.
"I love rhythms - I'm such a percussion nerd. When I'm walking, I'll tap different rhythms with my footsteps and mad little things like that," he said.
"The beat changes all over the place, so it's like some crazy little machine that gets stuck in a rhythmic groove and then trips over itself and zooms off in a completely different direction."
What Mad Little Machine lacks in length, it makes up for in attention to detail and quirky beats. "It's a short piece, it's short and sweet, but it packs a punch. It's got this rhythmic quirkiness - I wanted it to be quite hypnotic.
"I always find you lose a lot of audience members if it's too off-beat, my goal is always the final step, how it communicates to the audience."
Though Farr does not play a wind instrument, he was mindful of their limitations and strengths when writing Mad Little Machine.
"I spent the first decade of my career learning to play every instrument, at least in theory. I can't play wind instruments but I can picture myself playing them.
"To me, that's the inspiration, and then I think of the player. I think of my colleagues and how they play, you tend to get a feel for their style and that comes through."
This evening's programme also includes Elliot Carter's Woodwind Quartet, Nielsen's Quintet, Milhaud's La Cheminee du Roi Rene (King Rene's Fireplace), Ross Edward's Three Incantations for Wind Quartet and Ligeti's Six Bagatelles.
Ensemble flautist Bridget Douglas said there was plenty to suit all tastes. "It is filled with humour, melancholy, energy, melody and beautiful lyricism and also features Ligeti's Six Bagatelles, described as 'Bartok, with a little Stravinsky'," she said.
"From the light-hearted to the serious, the programme showcases the wind quintet from every perspective and demonstrates the lyricism and athletic strengths of this versatile ensemble."
Joining Douglas will be Ed Allen on horn, Robert Weeks on bassoon, Robert Orr on oboe and Philip Green on clarinet.
Zephyr is comprised of principal players from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
The quintet will also travel to Palmerston North, Wellington, New Plymouth, Auckland, Hamilton, Invercargill, Nelson and Christchurch, with a finale in Dunedin at the Otago Festival of Arts.