Monday, January 21, 2008

Drumming with Gareth Farr

In yet another attempt to improve my familiarity with New Zealand music, I’m listening to what is now a relatively old CD of Gareth Farr’s music.
Phew! There's an awful lot of noisy drumming. It might be fun for the percussion department, but I bet the strings and wind nearby find it all a bit too much for their ears.
Not that I dislike the music. Farr shares with John Psathas (another NZ composer whose music I like) the ability to write music with huge energy. It’s probably exhausting to play, but it certainly is invigorating, like taking a swim in the Southern ocean (especially around St Clair or St Kilda on a less than warm day). Perhaps this is an aspect of New Zealand music that imprints it with the flavour of the country. Compare it to the relatively lifeless stuff that our so-called most famous composer, Douglas Lilburn, produced (before he went off in the haywire world of electronic music). Some of his stuff gets moving, but for the most part it’s pretty tame. Okay, I don’t like Douglas Lilburn’s music. That’s it. I ain’t gonna apologize no more!
I remember being in the Milford Art Gallery here in Dunedin a long time ago, and expressing a similar opinion about the work of an artist which was on display. With considerable sense, the owner Stephen said, You don’t have to like everything, just because it’s there. In fact, he was even rude about that other icon of NZ art: Colin McCahon. I won’t say what he said, but it rather confirmed some of my feelings about that bloke too.

The photo, in case there's any confusion, is of John Psathas, courtesy of the Arts Foundation site.

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