Gareth Farr was born in Wellington, New Zealand. He began his studies in composition and percussion at the University of Auckland in 1986. The experience of hearing a visiting gamelan orchestra in 1988 prompted his return to Wellington to attend Victoria University, where the characteristic rhythms and textures of the Indonesian gamelan rapidly became the hallmarks of his own composition.
Farr continued with postgraduate study in composition and percussion at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where his teachers included Samuel Adler and Christopher Rouse.
In 1993, at the age of 25, Farr was appointed composer-in-residence by Chamber Music New Zealand, the youngest ever composer to hold that position. At the conclusion of the residence, Farr returned to the Eastman School to begin a doctorate in composition. As well as composing Kembang Suling (for flute and marimba, his most popular work to date) and three works for orchestra during this time, Farr also introduced audiences to his on-stage alter-ego, the percussion-playing drag queen Lilith LaCroix.
The inclusion of his works in four events at the 1996 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts kick-started his career as a dedicated freelance composer. Since then, his music has been heard at (or especially commissioned for) high-profile events including:
The 50th anniversary of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs)
The opening of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa, a work hailed as ‘music with a powerful and moving impact that transcends idiom and individual taste’)
The 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney (Hikoi, a concerto for percussionist Evelyn Glennie and the NZSO).
His music was also performed by the NZSO in Beijing as part of the 2008 Olympics, and in the opening ceremony of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
In 2006 Gareth was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for his services to music and entertainment, in 2010 he was a recipient of the prestigious NZ Arts Laureate Award, and in 2014 he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from The University of Auckland.ProgrammeK230EventsK230-0506Websitehttp://garethfarr.com/YouTube
Quanah in the snow cave which he slept the night in, much to everyone's amazement, at the Antarctic Field Training campsite