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Pukul

  • Text
  • Farr
  • Quintet
  • Farr
  • Percussion
by Gareth Farr | Percussion Quintet

in-Residence for the

in-Residence for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. The residency culminated 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 solo, choir and orchestra, performed by Paul Whelan and the Orpheus Choir with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Farr’s artistic excellence was acknowledged when he received the Arts Foundation of New Zealand’s Arts Laureate Award 2010, which aims to celebrate significant artistic achievement as well as nurture future creative endeavours. 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 BBC Philharmonic included Farr’s work alongside Douglas Lilburn’s Symphony No.2 as a programme to mark the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC troops’ battle at Gallipoli during World War I. The concerto received critical acclaim, described by the Dominion Post’s John Button as containing “marvellously free piano writing surrounded by orchestral sounds that conjure up memories of Prokofiev ballets, Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges and even the Bartok First Piano Concerto…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.” Farr’s music is particularly influenced by his extensive study of percussion, both Western and non-Western. Rhythmic elements of his compositions can be linked to the complex and exciting rhythms of Rarotongan log drum ensembles, Balinese gamelan and other percussion music of the Pacific Rim. Latest information about the composer may be found at www.garethfarr.com. PE096 – iv

Pukul (2003) Pukul was written for percussion ensemble, STRIKE, and is a follow-up to the composer’s work for percussion quartet, Volume Pig (PE010). The work draws inspiration from a variety of influences including the percussion music of Bali and the Cook Islands. In Indonesian pukul means ‘strike’, and the work begins with a long cadenza which is inspired by the Balinese performing style known as kebyar. The complexity of the kebyarinspired mix of erratic rhythms and radical dynamic contrasts becomes apparent when represented in Western notation (unusual time signatures such as BcGb and DcAb appear throughout). The succeeding section sees the introduction of a constant crotchet pulse which drives the work forward with the intensity and spirit of Cook Island drumming. However, the pulse eventually becomes obscured and—in the composer’s words, “trips over itself”—due to the occasional insertion of Cd and Ed measures. A slower section follows which features two percussionists performing interlocking patterns on the brake drums and quirky melodies on the flowerpots. The culmination of the work sees a recapitulation of the frenzied rhythms displayed at the outset of the piece. The composer writes: Pukul is the piece I’d wanted to write for years, after my epiphany of discovering Balinese gamelan music in the late 80s. I made many pilgrimages to Bali to hear the incredible music there, and was blown away by the complexity of the rhythms that the musicians were able to perform. I got totally hooked, particularly on the bombastic playing style called kebyar, which is a relentless explosion of unpredictable rhythmic patterns. Seeing an ensemble of 25 people playing these types of patterns in perfect rhythmic unison often leaves the audience completely baffled. At the time, there was no Balinese ensemble in New Zealand, so I started trying to incorporate these rhythms into my works for Western instruments. However, I quickly discovered that the complexity of the rhythms meant that very few Western musicians could actually play them. So, due to the phenomenal capabilities of the STRIKE percussionists, Pukul is the first time I’ve been able to write in this style.” PE096 – v

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