High Bias #14
NAME: Jon Rose
BIO: For over 35 years, Jon Rose has been at the sharp end of experimental, new and improvised music. Central to that practice has been 'The Relative Violin' project, a unique output, rich in content, realising almost everything on, with, and about the violin - and string music in general. Most celebrated is the worldwide Fence project; least known are the relative violins created specifically for and in Australia.
In 1977, he started Australia’s first musician run collective for the promotion and recording of improvised music – Fringe Benefit.
In the area of interactive electronics, his work is considered exemplary, having pioneered the use of the MIDI bow in the 'Hyperstring' project in the 1980s with the Steim Institute, Amsterdam - and with whom he continues to collaborate often in interactive projects involving sport, games, or the environment.
Jon Rose has appeared on more than 60 albums and collaborated with many of the mavericks of new music including John Cage, Derek Bailey, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Alvin Curran, Fred Frith, George Lewis, Otomo Yoshihide, Christian Marclay, etc. at festivals of New Music, Jazz, and Sound Art world wide such as Ars Elektronica, Festival D’Automne, Maerzmusik, Dokumenta, North Sea Jazz Fest, Leipzig Jazz Fest, European Media, New Music America, the Vienna Festival, the Berlin Jazz Festival, etc.
Apart from Europe, considerable interest in Rose's output currently comes from California where he was awarded the David Tudor Residency at Mills College in 2007 and completed a concert and lecture tour of all the major UC campuses.
In 2002 he set up the Australia Ad Lib website for the ABC – an interactive guide to the wild, the weird, and the vernacular in Australian music.
Recently Jon Rose has been commissioned by the Kronos String Quartet to write and build “Music from 4 Fences” for the Sydney Opera House; realised his bicycle powered “Pursuit” project at Carriage Works, Sydney; performed a completely new and improvised solo part for the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; created a major radiophonic work for the BBC on the history of the piano in 19th century Australia; toured in Europe with his current improvisation group 'Futch'; premiered his interactive Ball project at The Melbourne Festival; and been apprehended by the Israeli Defence Forces at the Separation Fence near Ramallah in the occupied territories; performed his interactive multi-media composition “Internal Combustion” for violin and orchestra at The Philharmonic, Berlin.
In 2007 he gave the Peggy Glanville-Hicks address - Listening to history: some proposals for reclaiming the practice of music. It has been published in over six journals, including The Leonardo Music Journal of MIT Press.
He holds 3 passports, one of which declares him a 'Berliner for life'.
Do you read reviews of your work?
When I get sent them.
Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?
I put them on my website under Press...so when concert promoters ask for press...it's there to grab. I am partial to the really bad reviews.
Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?
No, it just means I stopped reading the Wire a long while ago.
Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?
The writers who have some media power and write the history of experimental music seem to carry the same aesthetics in their bag, I'm not part of that club. And as Groucho said "I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member".
Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?
In the book "Violin Music in the Age of Shopping" - a certain jazz critic was taken to the cleaners. In 1980 I did ring up a reviewer from the Adelaide Advertiser who had by misfortune been told to review my concert when he was programmed to review a choir singing madrigals. He clearly was out of his depth - so I rang him to help him through the hoops. At first he denied writing it, then, when pushed, said "Look I don't mind modern music, I like the Beatles!" I haven't bothered since then.
Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?
I have no reviewing friends that I'm aware of.
Has you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?
No that never happened...but people have written to me to say positive and negative things about my work, but no critics that I'm aware of.
Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.
Possibly reviewers don't like it when musicians write as I guess they think of it as crossing into their territory.
Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?
I have written (with rainer Linz and some 8 other anon authors) two books "The Pink Violin" and "Violin music in the Age of Shopping". I write a lot of stuff about the violin, improv, music history, strings, electronics, which can be found on my website. I occasionally submit stuff for publication, not the Wire as it's clearly a little club of back scratchers anxious to keep the history of music for themselves and their mates.
Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?
You will never get writers with the passion or knowledge of Mann or Adorno ever bothering with music again. Music lost its power and place in society when the notion of a professional musician became extinct. Now it's just celebs, minor celebs, or wannabes, talent challenged ex pop stars, and downloads.
Anything you'd like to add?
It's a big subject - I'd suggest that I deal with this issue in Listening to history: some proposals for reclaiming the practice of music. The basic assumption that it all happened in the 20th century is nonsense, it all happened in the 19th century and before. Nothing much new under the music of the spheres, just changes of context.
Anything you want to ask me?
No, but feel free to quote from that article - it remains current somehow.