A dress in tune with the mood

World of WearableArt's musical clothing

SOPHIE SPEER
Last updated 05:00 27/09/2012
Visual Symphony, a new section of WOW
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
NEW CONCEPT: Composer Gareth Farr has constructed an orchestral piece to complement the sounds a group of garments make in Visual Symphony, a new section of WOW.

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The Vector Wellington Orchestra gets an unusual accompaniment in the form of musical clothing during the World of WearableArt.

Composer Gareth Farr has created a 12-minute orchestral piece to accompany the Visual Symphony section of the show, which opens in Wellington tomorrow. The sounds made by nine garments have been woven into the music.

Farr said he was amazed by the way the designers used their brief in different ways.

"They thought of the concept of musical instruments, things we would play, and the idea of a really fabulous garment, and they haven't just shoved them together. The whole thing works on both levels."

He had selected four pieces, a mix of his own compositions and well-known pieces, each designed to emote different feelings, he said.

"I looked at the outfits and some are very humorous and high-energy so go with more rhythmic music, but what's beautiful and subtle is some music has to be quite atmospheric."

It was a challenge to find a way to integrate and get the most out of the garments, he said.

"They don't come with instructions. So you'd see what would happen if you wiggle that or what happens if you shake that."

Each of the 16 members of the orchestra as well as Farr will be wearing Elizabeth Whiting-designed costumes, which Farr said were "outrageous".

"They are having a ball. I must say I get nervous when asking musicians to do things outside their comfort zone. They can be unwilling to do things as they're worried about their reputations . . . and not being able to perform properly. But they're loving being dressed in costumes."

Farr previously composed music for such events as the opening of Te Papa, the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000 and in Beijing in 2008, and the opening of last year's Rugby World Cup.

He was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit in 2006, in 2010 an Arts Foundation Laureate.

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