Ring Round the Moon

Ring Round the Moon

David Farquhar




Jian Liu (piano)
Martin Riseley (violin)
Jane Curry (classical guitar)
Jenny Wollerman (soprano)


Ring Round the Moon is an album of chamber music by New Zealand composer, David Farquhar. The programme was curated by Jack Body for a concert in the Adam Concert Room on May 8 (2014) called Remembering David, which celebrated David's artistry and commemorated his passing exactly seven years to the day.

Since 1950, David was widely recognised as being at the forefront of New Zealand composition, and his influence on subsequent composers (both as a writer and educator) was far-reaching and substantial. The music on this album testifies to David's meticulous craft and precision, and especially his fine artistry. As Ross Harris put it in his album liner notes, "David's music has the virtues of all great classical art – simple lines, clarity of expression, and beauty. His music stands as an important cultural monument in this country."

The music on the album is performed by the same NZSM musicians who featured in Remembering David, and was produced for Rattle by Wayne Laird.



RAT-D062 (November, 2015)
This album was made with generous support from Victoria University of Wellington and the Wallace Arts Trust

Curated by Jack Body 
Produced by Wayne Laird 
Engineered by Steve Garden at the Adam Concert Room, NZ School of Music, VUW
Artwork by Toss Woollaston (Erua, 1961) From the Wallace Art Trust collection, reproduced courtesy of the Toss Woollaston Trust
Design by UnkleFranc
Printing by Studio Q 

Thanks to Michael Norris and Wai-te-ata Music Press


track info


      Sonatina (8:09)
01  Allegretto ma non tranquillo – Allegro – Allegretto (3:18))
02  Andante (2:23)
03  Allegro giocoso (2:28)

      Three Pieces for Violin and Piano (11:30)
04  Improvisando (3:35)
05  Pizzicato (4:51)
06  Risoluto ((3:04)

      Five pieces from Five pieces from Black, White, and Coloured (14:23)
07  Song (2:18)
08  Homage to G.G. (2:14)
      Spirituals in Black and White:
09  Nobody knows… (3:22)
10  Rock-a my soul (1:25)
11  Lord, I can’t sit down (1:02)

     Swan Songs
12  The Silver Swan (i) - Orlando Gibbons (arr.) (1:20)
13  Swan swam… - trad. (2:04)
14  Anxieties and Hopes - David Farquhar (2:38)
15  The Silver Swan (ii) - Orlando Gibbons (arr.) (1:24)
16  The Roasted Swan - Camina Burana, trans. Fleur Adcock (3:43)
17  Swan sang… - trad. (adapted) (2:04)
18  The Silver Swan (iii) - Orlando Gibbons (arr.) (1:26)

      Six (more) pieces from Five pieces from Black, White, and Coloured (12:12)
19  Silver-grey: moonlight (3:26)
20  Homage to Chopin (2:22)
21  Chorale prelude (4:03)
22  Clouds (2:49)
23  España (1:26)
24  Homage to Mahler & Schubert (2:08)

      Nine movements from Dance Suite from 'Ring Round the Moon' (12:12)
25  Introduction (1:18)
26  Gallop (1:54)
27  Slow Waltz (1:34)
28  Tango (4:22)
29  Polka (1:31)
30  Waltz (2:41)
31  Two Step (2:01)
32  Introduction and Waltz (2:56)
33  Finale (1:02)

Total duration: 61:27

All compositions © David Farquhar




Sonatina (piano, 1950)
This work, written when the composer was a student at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, glows with youthful confidence. The first movement, with its restless shifting metres, explores all the timbrel registers of the piano. The Andante begins with an imaginatively ornamented figure from which ascending scales flow to a passionate climax. The last movement is a dance-like 3+2+2, with a style of rhythmic play that became a characteristic feature of Farquhar’s music throughout his life.
At the suggestion of the composer’s former student, composer John Charles, the score of this imaginative work was published by Wai-te-ata Music Press in 2009, fifty-nine years after its composition.

Three Pieces for Violin and Piano (1967)
This set of three pieces was composed for Ruth Pearl and Margaret Nielsen who gave the work its premiere performance in 1967, and then recorded the work for Kiwi-Pacific Records in 1972. The work shows the composer in a playful, one might almost say, ‘experimental’ mood, with the instruments frequently rhythmically unsynchronised, as if independent of each other. The first movement exploits sympathetic resonance from the piano strings, while the second movement requires the pianist to play inside the piano, plucking and stroking the strings and beating them with a timpani stick. While the last Allegro is more conventionally notated, the pianist enjoys a rhythmic exchange with the pizzicato violin by knocking on the piano lid.
This work was published by Douglas Lilburn in his 1972 set of Wai-te-ata Music Press scores, and reprinted by Wai-te-ata Music Press in 1992

Black, White, and Coloured (piano, 1999-2002)
Of this collection of twenty-three pieces the composer writes: “I have long been intrigued with the arrangement of the piano keyboard into two complementary modal sets, with five notes on the black keys and seven on the white. By limiting each hand to one mode (black or white) the piano’s single keyboard becomes almost double, and makes many crossed or superimposed hand positions physically easier to play. Musically the relationships and oppositions between the two modes provide seemingly endless opportunities for colour.
These pieces were mostly written between 1999 and 2002, continuing an exploration I had begun earlier. The black keys naturally produce many pentatonic folk (or folksy) tunes, and there are several Homage pieces acknowledging borrowings from Chopin, Schubert, Mahler and Gershwin, while the chorale prelude is an unacknowledged tribute to Bach.” The full set of twenty-three pieces was published by Wai-te-ata Music Press in 2003.

Swan Songs (voice & guitar, 1983)
The composer collected this group of “swan” texts, central to which is the music and a phrase of the words from Orlando Gibbons’ famous madrigal “The Silver Swan”. While the underlying theme is a sombre contemplation of human mortality, the mood is tempered by intermittent ironic playfulness. The facsimile score was published by Wai-te-ata Press in 2007 as a memorial tribute to the composer.

Dance Suite from 'Ring Round the Moon' (violin & piano, 1953/92)
Dance Suite from 'Ring Round the Moon' was originally written in 1957, for a small orchestra, the dances having been taken from incidental music commissioned by the New Zealand Players, as incidental music for Christopher Fry’s adaption of the Jean Anouith play L’Invitation au Château. This chamber orchestra version of the work played by the Alex Lindsay Orchestra was published on LP in 1963 by Kiwi-Pacific Records, and became one of the most popular and frequently broadcast pieces of New Zealand music. The composer subsequently made an arrangement for full orchestra of six movements of the work in 1975. The score of the original chamber orchestral version was published by Wai-te-ata Press in 1981. This version for violin and piano was arranged by the composer in 1992 at the request of Isador Saslav, then concert master of the NZSO, and it was first performed by Dr Saslav with Diedre Irons accompanying. The score was published by Wai-te-ata Music Press in 2009.

liner notes

David and I were colleagues in the Victoria University School of Music for over twenty years. During that time I came to respect him as a composer of great integrity and discipline. David was a professional composer in the best sense of the word. His music was always practical and his instrumentation very carefully considered. His word setting and vocal writing were exemplary. As with others of his generation and in particular those New Zealanders who studied in England with Benjamin Frankel, David was influenced by the neoclassical world of Stravinsky and the crisp clarity of Britten.
Despite flirtations with serialism and atonality David's music was always sharply drawn and meticulously constructed. It may also have been because of the neoclassical influence that he stood aside from the search for a identifiable New Zealand sound. He simply declared that as a New Zealander he may, in due course, be seen to write New Zealand music but it was not something he deliberately set out to achieve.
For much of his composing life my own interests led me to feel that his music was a bit 'old fashioned' but as I grew up I came to understand that whatever was 'fashionable' or 'in' at the time was very quickly meaning-less. David's music has the virtues of all great classical art – simple lines, clarity of expression and beauty. His music stands as an important cultural monument in this country. And I do miss his cunning spinning shots on the tennis court.
Ross Harris




David Andross Farquhar (CNZM) was born in Cambridge, but spent most of his early years in Fiji. He was educated in New Zealand and began his university studies in Christchurch before completing his degree at Victoria University in Wellington where he studied with Douglas Lilburn. Travelling to Britain he completed an MA at Cambridge University, and also studied composition with Benjamin Frankel at the Guildhall School of Music in London.
On his return to New Zealand he joined the staff of the Department of Music at Victoria University, and was made Professor of Music in 1976, retiring in 1993. In 2004 he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to music.
During his very productive life he wrote numerous orchestral, choral, stage and instrumental works, songs and music for children, and has been recognised as a leading member of the post-Lilburn generation of New Zealand composers.



Jian Liu is a sought-after solo pianist, chamber musician, and educator across the globe. He studied with Professor Jin Zhang from Central Conservatory in Beijing for six years, then with Dr. Caio Pagano at Arizona State University for eight years. He holds Master of Music, Doctor and Master of Musical Arts degrees from Yale School of Music, where he was a student of Claude Frank. He has performed in some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world, and he has won numerous prizes for his artistry.
As a dedicated and enthusiastic chamber musician, Jian is equally committed to education. He served for four years on the faculty of the Yale Department of Music, and is currently the Head of Piano Studies at New Zealand School of music and honorary piano professor at Qingdao University in China. He is the founding pianist of Te Kōkī Trio, the resident trio at New Zealand School of Music.



Violinist Martin Riseley is the Head of Strings (violin) at the New Zealand School of Music. He began violin studies at age 6, and gave his first solo concert at age 10. He studied with Carl Pini, Dorothy DeLay, and Felix Galimir, and graduated from the Juilliard School in 1996 with a Doctorate of Musical Arts.
In August 1994, Martin was appointed concertmaster of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until August 2010, performing regularly as soloist in a variety of major concerti. He served as Interim Associate Concertmaster of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (2002–2003), and was guest concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 2003.



Dr Jane Curry teaches classical guitar performance and chamber music. After successfully auditioning to study postgraduate performance at the Royal College of Music (London), the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester) and the University of Southern California, she chose to study with Scott Tennant at USC. During this time she was a finalist at the Fresno International Guitar Competition (CA) which brought her to the attention of the internationally renowned guitar program at the University of Arizona. She was subsequently offered a full scholarship to study towards a Master’s and Doctorate Degree with Prof. Tom Patterson.
Jane is a founding member of the New Zealand Guitar Quartet (NZGQ). Dedicated to teaching, her students regularly achieve high honours in their studies and enjoy numerous off campus concert opportunities as they develop their performing careers. Most recently two of her graduates won the New Zealand Aspiring Guitarist scholarship, a national award offered in conjunction with the Taranaki Classical Guitar Summer School.



Jenny Wollerman is one of New Zealand’s best known sopranos, and has taught voice at the New Zealand School of Music since 2003. She studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, graduating in 1991 with a MMus in Opera, and after further study at the Banff Centre, Canada and the Britten-Pears School in England returned to pursue her career in Australasia.
Engagements since include Léïla in Les Pêcheurs de Perles for State Opera of South Australia, Lutoslawski’s Chantefleurs et Chantefables with Tasmanian Symphony and Ravel’s Shéhérazade with the West Australian and Adelaide Symphony orchestras.
In New Zealand she has performed with all major arts organisations, including New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and New Zealand Opera. Roles include Micaëla, Xenia in Boris Godunov, Léïla, Mimì, Fiordiligi, Pamina and Johanna in Sweeney Todd. NZ International Arts Festival engagements include Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, Stravinsky’s Les Noces, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells and L’Allegro with the Mark Morris Dance Company.
Recordings include Between Darkness and Light, a song recital with pianist Michael Houstoun; Anthony Ritchie Symphony No. 4 with Christchurch Symphony Orchestra; and the Mendelssohn Midsummer Night’s Dream music with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.




Erua, 1961
M.T. (Toss) Woollaston is widely recognised as a founder of modern art in New Zealand and one of the country’s most important painters of the 20th century. Born in Taranaki in 1910, he spent most of his adult life in the Nelson district and is best known for his large, gestural landscapes of that region, Taranaki and the West Coast.
Woollaston was also a prolific painter of the human form, bringing the same vigorous technique to drawings and paintings of family, friends, and any sitters he could find. In 1961/2 he hired a local boy (‘Erua’) to sit for him after school, producing a large number of drawings, brush and ink paintings and watercolours. Many of these are in the James Wallace Arts Trust collection.
Toss Woollaston was knighted for services to art in 1979. He continued painting until well into his eighties. He died in August 1998.
The Wallace Arts Trust
The vision of the Wallace Arts Trust is to support, promote and expose New Zealand contemporary artists while providing the wider public with an inimitable cultural and historical resource of contemporary New Zealand art. These objectives are achieved in part by the acquisition of new artworks by contemporary New Zealand artists, as well as holding the annual Wallace Art Awards. In addition to operating the TSB Bank Wallace Art Centre at the Pah Homestead, 72 Hillsborough Road, Auckland, the Wallace Arts Trust loans out artworks to institutions ranging from schools to universities and hospitals. Beyond this the Trust financially supports many other arts organisations in New Zealand.
For more information, please visit the Wallace Arts Trust website.