Press Quotes 2008-2013
what others say
This page consists of descriptive reviews from from The Wire, The London Times, Jazzword, The Independent, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, Cadence magazine, The Voice, Realtime Magazine, The Australian, New York City Jazz Record, Cyclic Defrost, Time Out New York, All About Jazz, Limelight Magazine, The Squid's Ear, Time Out, Real Time Magazine, and many more.
'Jon Rose is the Thomas Alva Edison of the vibrating string. Just as the American inventor occupied himself with an assortment of inventions from the light bulb to the phonograph, so the British-born, Australian-affiliated violinist is concerned with the sonic possibilities of bowing, scraping, hitting, plucking or otherwise exciting these thin strands of wire or gut. In short, this CD is fascinating, revolting, interesting, upsetting and mesmerizing at the same time. It's analogous to what would happen if vaulted, future 500-channel television universe was made up of that many experimental musical conduits and the remote control was in the hands of a hyperactive male. Imagine split second clicks among a symphony rehearsal, a techno discotheque, a folk music concert, an arena ProgRock extravaganza, a viola concerto, a technical demonstration of sonics, an elongated rehearsal, short wave communication with extraterrestrials, an instructional audio tape and feeding time at the zoo, and you may get some idea of what you can hear here. Then imagine it happening all at the same time. Not for the faint hearted.'
'The lunatics are taking over the conservatory. Imagine if history had thrown Jazz the violin, harpsichord and forte piano instead of saxophones and the frontal attack piano. Here's what you might have got. Jon Rose's tenor and violins create a vivid skirl of sound that sits well with Chris Abrahams's archaic keyboards. Clayton Thomas plays like a guy from the orchestra who's finally got sick of underpinning Haydn and Brahms: big, boisterous, goofy sounds on the upright bass. It's all exuberant stuff... Rose is a thorough original, but drifts towards the merely idiosyncratic; here at least he has playing partners who keep him anchored. '
'Jon Rose: Australia made extraordinary.'
Real Time Magazine
'It's impossible to imagine that free improvisation didn't exist back in medieval and baroque times. It's not hard to imagine cats like Corelli getting totally wasted on the local vino after yet another concerto grosso and getting down and dirty in the music room for a free form freakout. I'll bet it would have sounded something like this. If that's hard to imagine, maybe Conlon Nancarrow comes close. Of course, not everything on Artery is as frenetic as the opener - there's some delicious harp work from Clare Cooper on "The Ascending Aorta" - but by the time you've got past "The Great Gonadal" and "The Elastic Lamina" you're heading for cardiac arrest.'
Paris Transatlantic webzine
'It took only a few minutes, while Rose was connecting his recording instruments to the separation fence, for the IDF patrol to arrive on the spot. In those few minutes he managed to extract something that sounded like a dolphin song out of the ugly metal. The IDF, however, would not a have a bar of the stranger and his entourage and demanded that he leave immediately. The soldiers rushed towards him yelling 'This is an illegal demonstration. You are not allowed in between the fences. Disperse now!' 'Maybe you should ask them what kind of music they like' responded Rose, who was trying to gain time. 'What's beyond doubt is that this is the shortest concert I ever played'. Spurred by the cameras directed at them, the soldiers decide to show who was boss by arresting Mohammed Hatib, a member of the Bil'in Popular Committee against the Fence. Rose who was trying to work out what was happening around him asks 'Why have they arrested him?' Mograbi replies: 'Because he is a local'.'
'Nasty tricks played from the genius' bow: Listening and laughter at The Maerzmusik Festival. After the break Jon rose, who was represented several times at the festival as violinist of violins and fences, played from the outset the laughter on the string with the premiere of the Violin Concerto "Internal Combustion". In the accompanying video we see the violin, bowed by a bicycle mechanism, the violin, processed by a knife, and finally violins, which explode. In addition Rose plays an absolutely improvised solo part, which motors along constantly on the attack, saying absolutely nothing just like the rest of the composition, which is above all full of powerful blows. One wants many meanings but there is no meaning available in this mass of visual, acoustic and electronic costly extravagance. After the earnest work and light results of the first half of the concert, we crashed with Jon Rose's Violin Concerto into the time of the dark genius, where everything is demanded, little offered, a lot of playing around, total wasted energy, and above all nerve-racking.'
'Jon Rose's rigorous pursuit of new approaches to the violin stretches back over 30 years, involving improvisation, instrument building, game pieces and unusual performance contexts. A major new work is always highly anticipated. Rose first developed a bicycle powered violin in the early 1980s, but with Pursuit this was expanded into a chamber orchestra of bicycle instruments, developed during a residency at Performance Space. A one-off, free performance of Pursuit took place on a Saturday evening in the huge foyer of Carriageworks. I arrived to find the venue already full. It felt like everyone in the experimental music community was there, but the crowd was also diverse, including cycling enthusiasts and children. It was quite a social event, with people clearly enjoying themselves. Towards the rear of the space stood the crew, including Rose and Fox, beneath a huge projection screen. Tracks were marked around the edges of the space, lit dramatically in places. Prior to the performance some video documentation was played, while Rose pedalled away on a stationary bicycle which I later learned was being used to power some of the equipment. Rose introduced the performance by requesting that the audience be as quiet as possible, so as to hear the subtleties of the sound generated by the bicycles, but it was a lost cause. While the audience was polite, and the bar was closed during the performance, the informal setting and number of people meant that there was a constant background noise of chatter. The first bicycle emerged with a startling, siren-like sound, as if to warn that what we were experiencing was serious. Adding to the slightly ominous feeling was the projection from a helmet-mounted camera, alternating with surveillance cameras placed at various vantage points. As the lone cyclist made his way around the venue the sound was amplified, modulated via x¹s laptop and spatialised through a multi-channel speaker setup. Gradually other cyclists appeared, each with a different pedal-powered instrument, including a large hurdy-gurdy-like violin and a bellows-powered pipe instrument. The tone shifted to deadpan humour as the absurdity of some of these contraptions became evident, particularly Rod Cooper¹s belt-driven turntable churning out easy listening. Although the bicycles travelled slowly for the most part, they were still too fast to get a really good look at the instruments, but there was compensation in the inclusion of pre-recorded close-ups on the video screen. As I adjusted to the spectacle I was able to focus on the musical points of interest. The modulation of the instruments¹ pitch and tempo by the speed of the pedalling was augmented by large doppler shifts as they went past, and the cavernous reverb of the space which glued it all together. The scale of the reverb meant that the distinction between the acoustic and electronic sounds became blurred in a way that was unhelpful. I wandered outside of the ring of speakers to experience the acoustic sounds more clearly. Moving around the space added another dimension which was not experienced by most of the audience, who stayed put, oriented towards the screen. I found myself thinking that the best way to enjoy this piece would be to ride one of the bicycles. The sound continued to build towards a climax, like a bicycle race but without the competition, and then finished after approximately an hour. Pursuit was an ambitious, impressive project, dealing with issues of transport, energy, acoustics, the nature of musical instruments and performance, and there was a lot to enjoy in the performance. In fact, there was too much going on to properly appreciate each of the elements, some of which felt less than fully developed. However the audience was treated to a unique experience, and as we left, most seemed happy with a good night out.'
Real Time Magazine
'Primeval sounds roll out of Festival House into the cold Berlin night as silhouettes of the musicians dance on the huge plate-glass windows. Inside, an appreciative crowd gathered around a short section of rabbit-proof fence is watching spellbound as the Australians Jon Rose, a violinist, and Erkki Veltheim, a violist, create an eerie electronic storm on the stretched metal strands. Great Fences Of Australia, conceived by Rose and fellow violinist Hollis Taylor, was a great start to March Music, an annual contemporary music festival in which Australian composition and performance formed one of the focal points this year. Rose, who was a guest of the exchange service in the 1980s, lived in Berlin for 15 years before returning in Australia in 2001, but still works regularly in Europe across a wide range of music. March Music also featured the premiere of his concerto Internal Combustion, for violin, chamber orchestra, sampler and video projection. The surprisingly - for Rose - restrained, almost classical, approach to his improvised solo line contrasted satisfyingly with the inventively scored orchestral part and the witty visuals. It was one of the most popular pieces performed at the 10-day festival.'
Sydney Morning Herald
'Kronos Quartet return to Sydney Opera House to demolish traditional music barriers with the world premiere of Jon Rose's Music from 4 Fences. Featured within the evening's program of Australian premieres, this extraordinary finale, commissioned by Sydney Opera House, involves Kronos members standing to bow and strike amplified fences as they are moved around the stage. A hypnotic sonic and visual experience; you'll be seduced by the atmospheric music, throbs and drones celestially coaxed from wire and metal, whilst immersed within a range of images of the fences as they are projected around the stage in real-time.'
Sydney Live Guide
'Fence music creates Australian soundscapes and liberates troubled hearts.'
Sydney Morning Herald
'But this work was eclipsed by the dramatic highlight of the concert: Jon Rose's Music From 4 Fences. Rose is an Australian composer and musician who has been playing fences as musical instruments since 1983. His composition for Kronos represents the first time that fences have been played on a concert stage and judging by the reception of the work on Saturday night, it is an incredibly effective music and theatre piece. The members of the quartet each stood in front of a mobile fence which they played by plucking, bowing and hitting its wires. The placement of the fences on the stage and the physicality involved in playing them emphasised the visual drama of this set-up. The sound of these fences is like no other string instrument: it is cold, hard, inhuman and machine-like, evoking images of chainsaws and prisons as well as more abstract notions of war, desolation, conflict and distance. Rose has found inspiration in border fences and barbed wire rabbit fences and this was directly evident in his composition. By the end of the work, the Kronos Quartet were enclosed by their own fences as angled projections of their faces and bodies moved on the walls surrounding them, and there was a strange, riveting beauty amidst the ugliness of it all.'
Australian Stage On Line
'The Kronos Quartet seated itself around the music stands as they might if about to play a quartet by Haydn, before one stood and wheeled to centre stage a large steel frame strung with five wires of varying thickness. A tentative pluck of the second string produced what seemed a disproportionately booming deep sound, while the barbed wire at the top clattered with appropriately rasping effect. One by one the other players joined in what became a fence fugue of plucked, scraped, and beaten sounds, and disjointed video-cam shots projected above. Were this simply an exercise in sound production, one might conclude that constructing portable amplified fences for concert hall use involved more effort than the results justified, but Jon Rose's Music From 4 Fences is as much conceptual as it is acoustic. This performance may have lacked some of the edginess of a previous iteration of Rose's fence project at the separation fence near Ramallah, which attracted the disapproval of the Israeli Defence Forces, but it made a strong, clear, theatrically effective statement, nevertheless. The whole was a tribute to the enduring ability of David Harrington and the Kronos Quartet to find new artistic voices in an uncertain and strife-torn world.'
Sydney Morning Herald
'Jon Rose's Music from 4 Fences brought the concert to a thrillingly visceral close, with Kronos scraping their bows along amplified wire fences. The symbolism of creating music from barbed wire - in a program inspired by conflict - was inescapable, giving the work a resonance that echoed in the mind long after the final notes had disappeared.'
The Melbourne Age
'Anyone who has ever put up fence wire in the outback knows it makes a great sound, Rose says. If you think about the barbed-wire fence, with the exception of war and mass murder, it is one of the most insane things our species has come up with. Rose says that at its most fundamental the idea of making music from fences is about finding beauty in extreme ugliness. It is the sound of Australia. I believe it should be the national music - the barbed-wire fence is something that is a huge part of the fabric and tradition of Australia. A fence comes with its own innate theatre - everyone knows what a fence is and what it is for, ordinarily not for concert music. Music From 4 Fences takes advantage of the unique set of images available from the wire and metal fence posts being played live on stage. The reason I started the group in the first place was that Black Angels expressed something that no other piece I knew of did, Harrington says. It gave me an interior sound to work with. When I heard Jon Rose's Rabbit-Proof Fence I felt like that again. It was a very powerful experience.'
'30 years at the bleeding edge between politics and chamber music. What's its history? David Harrington says, Jon is the inventor of the musical fence; we learned how to play it with him on a previous visit to Australia. The time I first came in contact with the idea of a barbed wire fence becoming a musical instrument was about the time the Bush administration was contemplating creating a fence between Mexico and the United States. The idea of musicians turning these objects of violence and confinement and suffering into musical instruments is something I had to do; I don't feel I have much choice.'
Time Out Sydney
'The highlight of the second half was Australian violinist-composer Jon Rose's Music from 4 Fences, commissioned by the Sydney Opera House. It follows 25 years of the composer treating fences across the world as bowed, plucked and struck musical instruments. The work involves four portable aluminium frames strung horizontally with five lines of different types of industrial wire fencing, including barbed wire. Heavily amplified, the distinctive tensile and textural character of each wire type is revealed in a score that has plenty of frenetic effects, acerbic intensity and occasional moments of beauty. The easily apprehended, powerfully loaded metaphor of the fence as a constructed barrier was emphasised with fractured video projections of the performers, film-noir lighting, and the movement of the fences to first construct a long barrier between performers and audience, and then tightly enclose the musicians inside a rhombus, suggesting either prison or refuge. As ever, Kronos offered outstanding musicianship and food for thought. Clearly this was politically topical programming with rather unambiguous gestures towards cultural pluralism, tolerance and global awareness. At times the argument felt overstated but the totality was mesmerising.'
'Music from 4 Fences by Jon Rose provided both the apex and the philosophical grounding of the performance. To quote violinist, founder and artistic director David Harrington from the program notes, Kronos 'attempts to make statements about our world', and Rose¹s installation gives them the opportunity to do just that. Rose has been playing concerts on fences since 1983, usually in situ or in public space installations. For Kronos, he has constructed each member a large, moveable rack, strung with lengths of heavily amplified industrial-strength wire and barbed wire, which are bowed, scraped, plucked, caressed and bashed to produce all manner of strikingly evocative sounds. The work itself seemed to be semi-improvised, with signposts which enabled the group to shift texture and gave the piece some structural girders to hang the ideas on. Images of the performers were projected onto the walls surrounding the stage. After a mostly abstract build-up, where the performers positioned the fences in a line across the stage that divided them from the audience, the piece built through a simple, repetitive rhythm up to an extremely loud and percussive climax. By this time, the fences had been moved again so as to totally imprison the quartet.'
'As I stated before, I did not do my due diligence before the show, so when 2nd violinist John Sherba gets up from his seat, leaving his violin behind and wheels out an electrified fence I am actually surprised. After a quick facepalm and I thought 4 fences was a metaphor! I am on board. Composer Jon Rose built the four fences for Kronos Quartet and this piece, and really there are no words for something like that. You could think it's gimmicky or strange, but in person it is enthralling and different and completely wonderful. It seemed like each fence had three working wires (though there were five I only noticed the top three played), the top and bottom being mostly distorted and the middle being of a playable note. The players could either pluck the fences or use a bow on the wire (either striking or bowing) and by moving their hand along the wire they could dampen part of it changing the pitch. The piece was full of original sounds and was super fun to watch.'
Spinning Platters Review
'The finale was a performance of Jon Rose's Music from 4 Fences. The quartet create musical sounds by plucking, striking & bowing metal wires, strung on large movable frames to look like a barbed wire fence. The 5 horizontal wires also look like a musical staff. The wires are amplified, & their sound is loud, reverberant & barbaric... As we left we encountered Jon Rose himself on the sidewalk outside. I may have offended him when I asked if the fence piece was notated. There is indeed a score, but Mr. Rose was more concerned about the quartet's fence-playing skills. He thought they definitely needed to practice more.'
Not For Fun Only Review
'Good Fences Make Good Music. The four members of Kronos wield bass bows along the fences, using their non-bow hand to locate nodes. Some techniques worked on the wires are familiar - straight bowing (arco), plucking (pizzicato), reversed bow (col legno), overtones, and so forth. But the combination of amplified sounds, variously sonorous, grating, and eerie, are strikingly revelatory. Adjusting the wires for aspects which include tautness and placement of barbs requires a much longer setup than the usual string quartet sound check... And there's a visual element. Willie Williams, who's the stage designer for [the rock band] U2, jumped into the possibility of designing a visualization for Music from 4 Fences, and what he came up with is so beautiful and elegant and simple. There are surveillance cameras that are trained on the barbed wire, so up close behind us, you can see our fingers and the bows and the barbs rattling. It's very visceral.'
The San Francisco Classical Voice
'Kronos continues to push the boundaries of the string quartet. Jon Rose's "Music for 4 Fences" was the central showcased piece of these four performances and it was just awesome. Even though this was not traditionally beautiful music by any means, it was an absolute pleasure watching Kronos create such a variety of sounds with these metal fences as they bowed, flicked and plucked the amplified metal barbed wire, changing the length of vibrating wires to change pitch.'
The San Francisco Examiner
'Jon Rose, Australian violinist and instrument builder, played last week in the most virtuosic display of fence-playing I've seen in at least six months. His instrument, which he reconstructed at ISSUE for his first U.S. performance in around ten years, is an excerpt of the 3,500-mile Dingo Fence in Australia, built to keep the wild dogs away from the sheep. It also happens to be the world's longest fence, and one of the longest man-made structures on the planet. Through the weekend, Rose switched between this fence and his violin, during improvisations with Zeena Parkins, Alex Waterman, and Miya Masaoka, and it was clear that he explored the sound of the fence just as he pushed the sound of his violin. No kitchy effects were taken for granted, or exploited for cheap thrills, but the sound of the amplified wire comes through. Always verging on some kind of slack-stringed chaos, the wires rattle just until Rose grabs a node on the string and stops all but a single harmonic. It's really a sound that you have to hear, or even see, to get the full idea, as any limitations you might expect from a fence-instrument are just blown out of the water. '
Free Music Archive
'Jon Rose has made a serious name for himself as a rule-breaker, challenging with gusto the perceived limitations of music. With the sun now set for the opening night's performances, the audience was directed to follow the fence line to a dark corner of the station. Lit only by the headlight of car, Rose - complete with two violin bows - set about transforming a seemingly moribund wire fence into a fearsome orchestra. And for the next 30 minutes he took us on a beautiful and terrifying journey of sound. With the thud of the windmill his metre and the cry of birds his only accompaniment, Rose manipulated the fence wires like that of a cello, weaving them into a brilliant (yet somewhat apocalyptic) storm fit for a horror movie soundtrack. It's difficult not to sound cliche but Fence Music truly is nature's own Australian anthem, fusing the sound of industry with the remoteness and loneliness of our landscape - a sentiment seconded by the brilliance of the trillion stars of the desert sky, which guided us back to our tents and into sleep.'
'Kronos has long been known for expanding the boundaries of the chamber-music repertoire, but in Jon Rose's Music from 4 Fences, the central work throughout the four-night run held February 24-27, materials normally used to construct boundaries became themselves a vivid musical resource. It opened with a soliloquy in which violist Hank Dutt pulled soft, friendly sounds from his isolated fence, and intensified inexorably as the other musicians gradually joined in, shaping their fences into a prison, before culminating in an ominous and raucous frenzy of protest.'
'Angels, the voice of the violin, the music of a Rose performance. The 59-year-old, who began playing the violin at seven years by winning a contest, was born for his individual interweaving research, at times exasperated with the technology able to be applied to the instrument. In the case of the k-bow, Rose transmits every detail of his executed movements, these are reprocessed using software and returned to the audience in the form of sounds and imaginations.'
'The grand theatre of Rose's Music from Four Fences (2009) rounded off the main program, played by the Kronos with a sense of dedication and the absurd on four specially constructed "fences". Sawed, plucked and twanged on twenty wires, some of them barbed, its ear-splitting reverberations sang of outback loneliness and a keening in the wind, savagely documenting every jolt of man and nature in an overwhelming desire to be heard.'
The London Times
'There are a few things string-playing Jon Rose and keyboardist Veryan Weston would like to tell you. First, they love melodiousness and point out that the lack thereof is a societal detriment ("The melody became a tune, a memory device... Remembering the tune was critical to survival"). Second, they're irritated with equal temperament's long-standing reign (Rose from the liner notes: "...the piano achieved dominance, and every instrument had to get in tune with it").
A few things that I would like you to know about this duo. They aren't punters to this game. Both have devoted their lives to music, specifically instrument design (see Rose's interactive bow, the K-Bow) and historic investigation of the missed potential of antique string and hammer instruments (overlooked due to the aforementioned blasted Western tuning). From "New Pentatonic Scale Relationships" to compiling lists of fences across the world that yield superior musicality, their devotion is the epitome of putting one's money where one's mouth is. And unlike many performers who spend their days in rejection of performance chops for innovation, they know how to play - whatever instrument they get their hands on - really (!) well; each was trained in universities (not true ed.), recurring club dates and marathon concerts, as well as they were untrained, so to speak.
The improvised mix here is the frenetic flood and speed of Well-Tempered Clavier, ragtime, Paganini with the invention of Partch and nods to various folk melodies, all expanded and skewed with tunings "from science and history" on unusual instruments (i.e. a Pythagorean tuned fortepiano, a meantone tempered harpsichord, a five-string violin in Eb, G, Ab, A, Bb, a tenor violin whose bridge houses four sympathetic strings, a portable organ that, when closed, resembles a "huge monastic bible"). "The Octave Stick" is a three-minute fireball: staccato blasts of pounded lower register harpsichord, virtuosic runs by both men, dizzying trills and walls of sound tightly realized with stop-on-a-dime rests are "deterritorialized" from so-called traditional harmonic and contextual relationships; the form lines up, somehow, but the pitch material is...free.
Tunings & Tunes is a terrific abstraction of the Classical world, though not one too far from the source (or maybe so far that it returns 330 degrees). It's not Rembrandt versus Rothko, but a Mona Lisa re-imagined with inverted colors, a beard on top of the Duchamp mustache, and as much sidewalk chalk, tea stains and magic marker as oil paint.'
The Squid's Ear
'Highest accolade for a unique Australian musician. The Australia Council Don Banks Music Award, the most valuable individual music award in the country, is tonight awarded to Jon Rose, for his outstanding and continued contribution to Australian music. For nearly four decades, Jon has been at the sharp edge of new and improvised music in Australia. He is a violinist, instrument maker, software developer, composer, performer, provocateur and innovator. He has recorded a vast and impressive body of work and has performed and exhibited around the world. 'Jon's influence as a musical maverick and innovator is appreciated worldwide,' says Matthew Hindson, Chair of the Australia Council Music Board, who presents the award tonight at the Museum of Western Australia. 'Jon has an uncanny ability to see the musicality of everyday activities, situations and objects. He finds music in everything and encourages us to see that the world is musical. He is well known for playing wire fences, a talent that began with the premise 'instead of this great country of ours being traversed by millions of miles of fencing, it is in fact covered with millions of miles of string instrument, and we all just gotta get out there and play it! While Jon is known as a composer or a violinist, he is in the broadest possible sense, an artist. His work is not divided into categories but flows from one end of the spectrum to the other, moving freely between art forms. Jon is a global artist, but one with a deep understanding of Australia; it's culture, history and physical landscape, which he brings to his work and shares with the world,' says Matthew. 'He stands as a role model of courage and persistence for talented artists on the fringes. It is a great honour for us to present him with the Australia Council Don Banks Music Award.''
'Jon Rose, affectionately known as the 'radical violinist,' has been announced as this year's recipient of The Australia Council Don Banks Music Award. One of the world's finest and most rebellious violinists, Jon continues to set boundaries and break them with his awe-inspiring compositions, performances and musical innovations. Bold, blissful and bizarre, Jon's disregard for the conventional use and method of classical music has underpinned his entire career.'
'His contributions to Australian music, that won him the coveted award, ranged from starting up the first musician-run collective in the country for the promotion and recording of improvised music, Fringe Benefit in 1977, to curating his own touring festival and setting up the Australia Ad lib website for the ABC, a guide and catalogue for lowbrow music in Australia.'
'Taking the violin to the edge. Paul Mason, director of music at the Australia Council, says Rose has demonstrated constant innovation over his career. 'There is a vibrant artistic community in Australia, many of whom have been inspired by Jon at some point, many of whom are making new music and sound work across a range of platforms,' he says. 'There is such an Australianness to his work, from working in the outback with wire fences but also from working with communities in regional areas. It's just that it's a different representation of Australia than what we're used to.' One of Rose's most fascinating experiments is his development of the interactive violin bow, which forms a natural extension of The Relative Violin. 'If you are going to take the violin and change how it's played, then you are going to look for the violin in a digital age,' he says. 'We live in a digital age, so I wanted to bring the violin into a digital age, not in a simplistic way but one that involved the mechanics of how violinists actually played.''
'As acclaimed Australian composer Martin Wesley-Smith wrote when nominating Rose for the award: 'Jon is one of the most original, talented, and provocative creative musicians we have. In my book he's a national treasure, one whose existence is essential to the wellbeing of Australian society.''
The West Australian
'Jon Rose's Joyous Resistance. This is a really important aspect of Rose's work that I think relatively few people in Australia are aware of. In terms of concrete, enduring outcomes, these many works (about fifty to date) are his major 'compositional' legacy, sitting proudly alongside his legacy as an improviser/performer. One can get glimpses of it by dipping into his gloriously labyrinthine website (like everything else about him, an act of ongoing obsession), but frustratingly, only in terms of excerpts. Jon's work has always been socially 'critical', and, in later years, it has gained a more explicitly political dimension (another thing he has in common with Martin Wesley-Smith). But whereas so many politically orientated artists seem to place their main emphasis and self-vindication on Righteous Anger, Jon's work in this area has always also had an exuberance arising from the act of performance. Nietzsche spoke of 'La Gaia Scienzia'; with Jon, perhaps, we can celebrate a 'Gaia Resistenza'. When Jon elicits music from Australia's wire fences with all their history of segregations, or even more provocatively from the fences set up in Sydney in 2007 to protect APEC World Leaders from the rest of humanity, the protest element is obvious, but it is enhanced by an obvious joy in exploring the sonic possibilities of these otherwise deplorable artefacts. Isn't this, perhaps, a model for socially engaged art? At any rate, we have very, very much to thank Jon for.'
'One of Australia's most original musical makers and thinkers, Jon Rose, receives the award of a lifetime. This week the Australia Council for the Arts announced the giving of music's most prestigious prize, the Don Banks Music Award, to improviser, instrument-inventor, musical activist, thinker and radiophonic composer Jon Rose. The annual award is given to an artist only once in a lifetime "to publicly honour a senior individual of distinction who has made an outstanding and sustained contribution to music in Australia. Jon Rose's many contributions to Australian music have fostered playful and exploratory music-making among generations of curious musicians and audiences. His words and actions have frequently challenged and expanded our sense of the nature of Australia's musical heritage. And more than any other past recipient of this important award, Rose's genius has been expressed in the medium of radio.'
ABC FM News
'A Violinist Breaches By-Laws. A man is apprehended playing violin in front of the Sydney Opera House. 'I'm playing the violin,' he explains to the security guard. 'You're breaching the bylaws, you're not allowed to play music in front of the opera house,' says the guard. The violinist is not Andre Rieu or Richard Tognetti, it's Jon Rose who has been awarded Australia's most valuable individual music prize. The larrikin of Australian music was presented with the $60 000 in Perth this week. Ideas erupt from Jon Rose freely and almost ceaselessly. His role as a polemic and capacity for playfulness has made him an iconic Australian figure in the experimental improvised music scene.'
'A Larrikin par excellence. Jon Rose is not just a musician. He's an artist (and educator, lecturer, innovator, inventor, writer) whose work flows across different media and art forms: improvisation, composition, performance, performance art, radio programs, radiophonic works, environmental events, soundscapes, theatre pieces, images, graphic design, Super 8 films, videos, websites, instrument design and construction, choreography, installations, multimedia, political art, texts, books, CDs, DVDs, and more. With enormous energy and originality, well-honed organisational and practical skills, good humour, healthy irreverence, and a constant stream of ideas, he moves freely between and over the fences we build between art forms, stopping along the way to play them. I know of no other Australian musician whose output is so enormous, so eclectic. Who else is equally at home with and excited by high-tech instruments, like the interactive MIDI violin bow he invented, and found object instruments like bones and bottles? '
'The film takes a risk by first plunging into the esoteric work of Rose, someone whose intent seems at times as much to annoy others as to explore the possibilities of sound. He brags about his sonic terrorism and conducts much of his interviews from underneath the covers of (presumably) his bed. However, his thoughtfulness about music cuts through the self-indulgence, and his ongoing project of playing fences as instruments succeeds in making us think about a broader environment and how it intersects with the world of art.'
'One lasting memory will be of Jon Rose's and Robin Fox's Kite Music. On a white saltbush plain adjacent to the stunning red scarp of Lizard Rock on Wogarno Station, was a stark white 4WD against the landscape. A portable PA prepared to sound to infinity. Colorful kites set soaring to the sky in full splendor, carrying accelerometers and other data collectors. As the data flowed to computers in the set up like some sort of military exercise in the back of the car, the software developed by Fox and Rose converted that to sound to be delivered to the universe by afore mentioned PA (powered by a car battery!). This may all sound like anathema to the stunning natural landscape but in fact the musical/sonic experience wove its way perfectly into the landscape. Country in the Midwest is wild, chaotic, dangerous, lonely, unrepetitive and majestic - all qualities of Kite Music. This really was Australian music in true Australia made possible by the gathering of people dedicated to exploring the possible but not common or popular - A New Music Festival.'
'I recently witnessed an 11-piece string orchestra accompany a composition by Jon Rose in which he drives his fiddler's bow across warped wire fences in the Australian outback. In a former meeting room for East German politicians, the string ensemble got together for the first time only an hour before the show, yet accompanied Rose's bizarre, screeching metal desert symphony, which was projected on the back wall, with disarming precision. The basement room of a Stalinist high-rise was jammed.'
'A true maverick of the new music scene, violinist Jon Rose added great spark with his improvisations and solo works involving interactive electronics. Waving his bow like a lasso triggered some fascinating and unusual sounds from his laptop. Numerous other effects, including nifty bow-bouncing rhythms from his detuned violin, provided an absorbing sonic accompaniment to video footage from his Great Fences of Australia project.'
'Jon Rose opened the Soundstream Adelaide New Music Festival in style with a fabulous display of musical imagination and evolution...Jon Rose has for many years been a pioneer of the interactive violin bow. His first piece, Palimpolin, featured the interactive K-Bow and was a showcase of its many possibilities. With his instrument connected to a computer and the cinema's speaker system, the range of sounds he creates is astonishing. Firstly, there are the standard violin sounds like bowing and plucking. Then there are enough effects pedals (there are no effects pedals ed.) to rival any rock concert. On top of this, there are a range of electronic sounds which change depending on the angle at which the bow or violin is held relative to the floor. And finally, there are a range of preprogrammed samples which play when the bow and violin have certain interactions, like a note being played on a particular string. The first thing one notices is how visually jarring the performance is, as what looks like a classical violin creates sounds like car motors, dogs, radios and helicopters. But this is quickly replaced by musical fascination because Rose has structured the work so well. He brings forth different sound ideas with such assurance, giving the audience just enough time to get to know each one and enjoy it, then moving on to something totally new. The piece is luxurious without feeling indulgent. One highlight is the segment towards the end when he plays through an auctioneer's speech, causing jumps in the flow of words every time he lifts the bow from the strings. At other moments the bow becomes an instrument all on its own. Waving it around like a lightsaber, Rose creates a wide variety of sounds from bangs to whines to rumbles. By contrast, Violin Improvisations is completely electronics-free, or as Rose puts it in the program, 'Plain vanilla violin'. Though most of this piece sits firmly in the modern world - including scraped stings, atonal note clusters and bowing on things other than the main strings - it contains a number of snippets from well known classical and romantic melodies. These serve as a constant reminder that this is also the instrument of Mozart and Puccini, and that this performance is the descendant of that musical tradition. As with the first number, there is a spellbinding level of excitement, expression and imagination in Rose's performance. Having so comprehensively covered the sounds of the violin, Rose uses his final piece to feature a new member of the stringed instrument family. Fences - A Selection is a collection of video clips in which Jon Rose and fellow violinist, Hollis Taylor, record the sounds they make on fences in the country and outback. On highways, dunes and paddocks, these two musicians bring rusting and rotting boundary lines to life by plucking, bowing and striking on wires and posts. The resulting sound is otherworldly, a feeling reinforced by the stark landscapes of remote Australia which form the background to the performance. In front of the screen, Rose performs a supporting violin obbligato. What could have been a night of gimmicks and tricks is instead a valuable and unforgettable trip into rarely-explored musical territory. It is hard to imagine a better opening to the Soundstream Festival.'
'Innovators take a bow. Two of the luminaries, internationally respected as musical innovators, who came to Adelaide for Soundstream 2012 were honoured with their very own concerts. Australian Jon Rose's music is more about the violin bow, less about the violin. In Palimpolin, the electronically interactive k-bow, his own invention (please get this right ed.), played the major role waving like a magic wand, whirling like a cowboy's lariat above his head, changing the pitch, volume, timbre, duration, silence. Then there was Violin Improvisations on the 'plain vanilla violin'. There was nothing plain about this fluent, wide-ranging tip of his musical imagination iceberg.'
The Adelaide Advertiser
'Jon Rose's approach to music making can be simply characterised as in-your-face. His manic style of violin improvisation and his collage approach to musical texture often make his music confrontational. Despite the shock element there is also a strong conservative philosophy underlying much of Rose's work. Most of the tracks on Disc 1 in this collection, for example, were the outcome of a project to document elements of Australian DIY music-making traditions... Rose's accompanying textures demonstrate a large range of styles from circus music to musical modernism. Some of the overlays work better than others. The old-fashioned swing band sound works nicely with the department store pianism, the string orchestra dissonances jar with the Aboriginal singing, Dinky is made to sound like he is trading licks with the violin and piano, the orchestra grooves well with the auctioneer, but it unrealistically and unfairly overpowers the chainsaws. These aren't the only saws involved here. Rose's orchestra forms a bowed saw quartet which sounds in some places like the gentle humming of bees and in other places it hurt my ears, even at low volume. This was hard to fathom because the recording is not technically distorted. Still on Disc 1, we come to a work called Internal Combustion, essentially a concerto for improvising violinist and fully-notated orchestra. It's a unique idea and is the first of the pieces in the package that has a wall-of-sound edge to it, mostly modernist in orchestral technique with contrasting wild fiddle impro.Internal Combustion is in marked contrast to the next piece, Syd and George, a radiophonic work in which former National Park administrator Syd Curtis describes his 20-year relationship with an Albert's Lyrebird he has named George. Syd talks lovingly about all George's behaviours, focusing on his singing and displays. The astounding variety of the bird's calls are interspersed with Syd's narrative and with soundtrack cues, composed and played for string quartet by Rose. The string music is sometimes commenting on the birdcalls and sometimes on Syd's verbal inflections. Like the lyrebird's extensive repertoire of expert mimicry of other birds, loud alarm whistles, thin squeaks, sharp trills, low growls, rasping and churring noises and Dinky-like howling, Rose has assembled a compendium of string sounds and textures, expertly played, recorded and synchronised. The droll humour of Syd's drawl is reflected in the quirky string ensemble composition.'
Music Forum Magazine
'As this four-disc retrospective shows, Australian violinist Jon Rose has done more than any musician to revolutionise the approach to his instrument, with technical developments and radical performance strategies.Digger Music is a duet for violin and mechanical excavator; and Sphere uses an interactive electronic ball to determine the organisation of various keyboards, multiple violins, choral chants and whiplashes. But it's his Fence Works for which Rose is best known, using the endless outback fences of Australia like enormous sub-bass cellos: the more portable Garage Fence included here sounds variously like the swarming of hornets, the screeching of train wheels, and the keening of angels. Remarkable stuff.'
'It's safe to say my first encounter with Jon Rose was a memorable one. Having just completed a concert at the Now Now festival in Sydney in the early '00s I was introduced to Jon, who promptly told me he was "unimpressed" with what he'd just heard. I must confess, I was intrigued to meet someone so willing to launch head long into criticism of a peer's work during their 'first date'. The conversation continued, and Jon outlined his doubts about the laptop as instrument, as well as a few aesthetic issues he felt marred the piece presented. I walked away from this conversation with two things. The first was some questions to consider over where my work was headed at that time (useful question too - critical and considered - including what role computers might play in improvised performance). Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I left with a healthy respect for one of Australia's lesser recognised national treasures. Jon Rose is a tireless worker and even more so a tireless experimentalist. A violinist with a devout passion for the art of performance, his work spans four decades and has charted out a divergent, yet not unrelated sound world. He has created an uncompromisingly personal sound space, one in which questions of performativity, expression, environment and what role music can play as an agent of education and inspiration are all addressed. What unites Jon's work is his willingness to question the fundamentals of his practise, not merely in a self-reflexive way, but also through a broader social and cultural lens. Examples of this abound, including his infamous works exploring and playing fences in the outback, which he records. Elsewhere, his work has created not just new designs for violin (double necked, 16 string microtonal and too many others to list), but has also revised how the violin could be used in conjunction with other technologies to reach new sonic possibilities. He's also presented numerous incursions into public spaces - Violin Solo At The Sydney Opera House being a particular favourite. In Rosin, the four disc boxset of his work issued by ReR, is both enthralling and exhausting. This is a collection that summarises so many ideas that it's difficult to take them in without allowing several weeks to for each disc to unfold. I found myself wondering how Jon had found the time not only to create this vast output, but also to conduct the research required to provide these pieces with the context and framework they need. Many of the works aren't simply improvised excursions or cursory composition - they also involve the creation of new instruments and techniques and, quite often, extended periods of research into various social, political and environmental concerns. They are universes unto themselves, much like their creator. In essence, Jon Rose represents many things we (musicians and otherwise) should aspire to - to be restless, dedicated, willing, to have a sense of humour and most importantly of all, to be uncompromising. He is a rare breed - especially here in Australia: a composer, philosopher and player sitting at the edges of many scenes and movements, yet someone who has remained affecting and produced work entirely on his own terms. Rosin collects truly Australian music that resonates across the face of the planet. May there be more to come.'
'Marcel Duchamp for the ears. Most CDs don't need to be made. This one did. It is a three-disc retrospective (plus data disc of videos) of the surprise-laden career of Jon Rose, a sort of Marcel Duchamp for the ears. Primarily a violinist, Rose has been a pioneer of free improvisation and imaginative ways of fusing improvisation, composition and electronics. He has championed music in all its possible forms and has also been an energetic talent scout, seeking out weird and uniquely Australian sound sources. In his Pannikin project, an auctioneer, a singing dingo, a chainsaw orchestra and a whip virtuoso are among the acts he recontextualises with the help of a band. Some are hilarious and others unexpectedly touching, but always there is a surge of humanity - or dingo - however improbable the outcome.'
The Canberra Times
'Jon Rose has done much with and to the violin, and upon hearing this CD a great deal more than you might have ever imagined. For listeners unfamiliar with his music, Rose's new CD opens a door to his unique engagement with the instrument and with sound and its place in our world. For those who love his work it is a collector's item. Rosin (the CD is named after the stuff you rub on the bow to change its texture and enrich the sound of the violin strings) comprises CDs, a disc of videos and a booklet discussing the selected works with testimonies by David Harrington, Richard Barrett and others on the nature and immensity of Rose's contribution to music. Subtitled 'A 60th Anniversary Collection,' it was released shortly after this milestone birthday and with three hours 45 minutes of music and an hour and 25 minutes of visual material, it's an excellent introduction to his recent work. Presumably it's a personal retrospective, emphasising favourite developments. Though less comprehensive than his webpage, it focuses on specific projects: his Pannikin series of recordings of people making all kinds of sound (a subset of the ABC's Australia Ad Lib series), his fence-playing, his electronic interventions into the violin and his ball-games and bicycle series. Rose's work questions our assumptions not only about music, sound and performance but about the world in which we live. His Garage Fence project, in which he set up four fences like a boxing ring, to be played on stage by Kronos Quartet, is about more than just making fencing-wire vibrate interestingly (though he is always looking for objects that make interesting sounds). Miking a fence for sound interrogates its resonant properties and reveals its metaphorical harmonics. For example when he plays the dingo fence he draws our attention to its environmental significance and to the concepts of containment and border. Turning a fence into a musical instrument disrupts its emblematic power. He has performed at the USA-Mexico border and the Separation Fence in the Israeli Occupied Territories, challenging their authority. He engages with the outback - Oodnadatta, the Strzelecki Desert, Wogarno Station-as a mystical, alien, forbidding, even sacred world. Rose is a philosopher and social commentator and his philosophical investigations often start as musical or sonic ones. Rose encourages people to make sound and one of his most important endeavours, collecting home-made sounds, is given due attention on the CD. There are samples from the Pannikin Project, in which Rose invited do-it-yourself musicians to demonstrate their work and remixed it with his own accompaniment - for example recordings of a shopkeeper repeatedly singing "Thank you very much," gum-leaf players mimicking bird calls, a whip-cracker, an auctioneer in full cry, a chainsaw orchestra (protesting against logging) and the only department store pianist still working. The Pannikin Project redefines musical performance and acknowledges under-recognised aspects of our culture. Rose's attitude to sound is highly democratic - anyone can (and should) participate; there's no distinction between high and low art, and it's fun!...Most significantly, there is a video of Jon Rose burning to ash a closely-miked violin, an apparently iconoclastic act, perhaps even a strange ritual of renewal. This unique sight and sound of a violin's cremation is romantically set in the outback at dusk. In fact, there can be no more committed, inventive or insightful experimental composer, sound artist, musician and philosopher of music than Jon Rose, and his impact is worldwide. He continually challenges us and draws us into a world of sound that turns out not only to be accessible but fun and a stimulus to our own creative exploration. While his work betrays the highest level of musicianship, it tells us to listen more attentively to the world and to think more deeply about what sound and music are and what they mean to us.'
Real Time Magazine
'60th anniversary box set that celebrates the incredible work and vision of Australian violinist and avant gardist Jon Rose: Rose has completely re-thought the potential of the violin and his open approach to improvisation and collaboration has resulted in some amazing one-off hook-ups. Rosin spans the breadth of his career, using both the acoustic violin and his hyperstring interactive bow system. Rose travelled across Australia with his partner 'playing' various wire fences with bows that he found along the way and through his experiences with meeting people on his trips he encountered many unlikely collaborators. There's a ton of that in here, with Rose playing along with local brass bands, musical whips, aboriginal choirs, orchestras of corrugated iron, chainsaws, singing dingos and musical gum leaves. There are also larger works, Ives-esque string settings and improvised violin concertos that have a depth and power that would reconcile orchestral settings with radical free playing as well as pieces for heavy earthmoving equipment that come over like Survival Research laboratories plays UK Industrial. The whole deal is accompanied by a ton of extras, including a whole disc of fascinating quick time videos documenting various performance strategies that runs to 1 hour and 25 minutes, a booklet with a ton of notes and pictures and each set comes with an artefact of used bow hair. A signed edition of 1000 copies, this is a fascinating overview of one of the great contemporary sound thinkers. Recommended.'
'To mark Jon Rose's 60th birthday, Recommended Records is releasing this 3 CD box of previously unreleased works ranging from radio documentary and radio fiction to virtuoso performances - taken from all manner of contexts, using both the acoustic violin and the hyperstring interactive bow system. There's a remarkable improvised violin concerto (the rest of the mini-orchestras's parts are written out), as well as collaborations with Australian locals (multiple brassbands, musical whips, lounge pianists, aboriginal choirs, orchestrated corrugated iron, musical gum leaves, auctioneers, chainsaws, singing dingos, bowed saw orchestras, and so on). There's a duo with George - an Albert's Lyrebird, and concerts with contemporary ensembles and heavy earthmoving equipment. It comes accompanied by a great deal of extraordinary film - and some purely audio - material collected together on a supplementary data disc. Plus there's a generous booklet of texts, documents and photographs and, of course, a souvenir sample of bow-hair.'
'He recognizes that Australian efforts 'to incorporate a sense of place and Aboriginality into European music have often been awkward affairs'. He's thinking here of concert music, which contrasts with his own site-specific activities. Among these is the interactive Music Ball, which I was fortunate to experience at Sounds Outback at Wogarno sheep station in Western Australia - a kind of communal music-making encouraged by crowd psychology and love of sport. Rose draws on such site-specific practices to suggest responses to music's deep current economic malaise. He wants us to recognize the 'innate musicality' of our urban sound world, not in Cage's sense of sounds becoming context-free objects of touristic curiosity, but in the more ancient sense in which music is attached to a social function. Music is at the centre of Australian traditional Aboriginal society, and we should learn from its practices. Rose's polemic for music of place rests on a contract with autonomous music as it appeared in the 18th and 19th centuries. Following on from the visual arts, Western music became disconnected from any individual performance environment. The power of this autonomous music is now being undermined by casualisation, and Rose's suggestions about a return to a music of place are salutary.'
'Rose proposes, as an alternative, a rethinking of music that grows out of a return to first principles - where music reconnects with concepts of place, landscape, everyday life and the Australian vernacular. Invoking ironic references to European modernism, Rose offers examples of Australian sprechstimme - the race-caller or auctioneer and, with a nod to Olivier Messiaen, suggests that our native bird-song 'should be standard knowledge and repertoire.' He further outlines the possibilities for outdoor performances and suggests that Australian's love of sport could be seen as a fruitful site for musical engagement, citing his own work Perks (1995) - 'an interactive badminton game based on the mind and obsessions of Percy Grainger' - and Pursuit (2009) 'a bicycle powered orchestra event of hand-made musical instruments.' The thrust of these arguments rests on notions of 'embeddedness,' where music is interwoven once again into the fabric of everyday life and connects in authentic ways with our environment and culture. This is an expansive and engaging view of the state of Australian music. Rose's approach to this Platform Paper closely resembles his prolific and influential musical output. His arguments demonstrate a lateral, creative form of thinking that challenges traditional understandings of history, culture and genre, resulting in a provocative collision of ideas out of which a powerful logic emerges.'
'But the highlight of Metapraxis was definitely the Australian premiere of Jon Rose's "The Long and Short of It", which involved the quartet Atticus and several other guest performers on violin, playing along to a film on the big screen behind them for the crowd to watch. The musicians' task was then to try to manipulate sounds to somehow match the movements in the video, thereby highlighting the different types and lengths of the various string instruments.'
'For the encore of the assorted musicians assembled to perform with him yesterday evening at Porgy & Bess, the inimitable Jon Rose turned what had been a respectful, ambient-oriented, meditative semi-large group improvisation into a noise fest. Slamming the back of his violin into the monitor to generate feedback (at which point I retreated from the second row to the back row), he launched into a rowdy and spontaneous rendition Ye Olde English Sea Shanty, 'What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor', with gusto and perfect intonation...he was far from drunk!'
Silent Steppe Cantata
'Rose we can say is one of the great innovators of creative music in the second half of the twentieth century, given his decisive contribution to the development of tuning , technical execution and aesthetic perspectives (approaching even techno ), alternatives to the existing - something as yet far from being recognized by critics and by musicology, more interested in following fashion phenomena. Apologizes, then, that in Colophony his speech is rather conventional... Jon Rose has nothing to prove, and anyway, this CD is in itself a manifestation of a victory. For several years the violinist battled cancer which was able to subdue him, during that time he virtually disappeared from the scene. What matters in this issue is the exploration of new solutions , and this despite the fact that the trio in which it appears, include a 'laptoper' who is also an important composer of the most challenging classical music/experimental today, Richard Barrett. It is relevant, yes, returning with all its brilliance of a voice of the violin that was missing.'
'The trio of Australian violinist Jon Rose, UK electronics artist Richard Barrett, and bassist Meinrad Kneer, in an album of free electro-acoustic improv taking it's 11 tracks titles from the Greek name for rosin. The interplay is dynamic and often rapid, taking unexpected twists and turns, from silent moments to wonderfully controlled chaos. All three are extremely experienced improvisers, and the depth of conversation is remarkable and joyful. That the trio maintains interest to the listener throughout is a testament to the skill and creative powers of these artists, making this a highly recommended release.'
'I may very well be reading far too much into Mr. Rose's body of work (as all good social scientists must), but given his written history, I cannot help but view this album as a scathing indictment of neoliberal capital realism; the aforementioned juxtaposition manages to reveal these prayers to The Economy as exactly what are - foolish. Now yes, to gain utility from shopping and a blind acceptance of market forces is ludicrous - this should be obvious to many; yet few could hope to demonstrate this claim in such an entertaining and naked fashion. If that last paragraph was unwarranted, then I leave you with this PSA courtesy of Jon Rose: 'Remember, if you're going to commit suicide in a car, do it in a Porsche.''
'Violinist, violin maker and sound artist Jon Rose (also featured on the lower-sounding tenor violin here), bassist Meinrad Kneer (double bass) and electronic musician Richard Barrett (Evan Parker Electro Acoustic Ensemble and also active as a composer of contemporary music ) not choosing safe for accessible, purged minimalism, or Teutonic impressive volumes. Instead, they are constantly sitting together on the skin until they are almost tripping over each other. The result is a full and furious sound that never becomes heavy. However, it all sounds without obligation , because in the maze-like layers are arranged alliances - heard but then decomposing quickly.'
'Although these musicians together have met several times this is not exactly a trio that is obvious. Firstly, there are the various countries, Australia, Germany, and Wales, respectively, but also the different generations (1951, 1970, and 1959). The only thing they really have in common is their attitude towards improvisation. Such a combination of violin and tenor violin (Rose), bass (Kneer) and live electronics seem unorthodox, but in terms of sound-picking or pricking, long sustains and percussive effects are the tools just fine for this line. A division of roles between the musicians is not observable... The musicians show themselves through their experience immensely flexible, with a striking vibrancy as a result.'
'Kind of difficult to start a bowed saw orchestra these days, Jon Rose laments, as no one in Australia makes serious quality hand saws anymore. Rose is a virtuoso of violinistic perversity, undertaking eccentric excursions into worlds of sound where glaring exceptions shed light on the inadequacy of rules and regulations. The decline of hand saw manufacture in his homeland concerns him because 'bowed saw music tends to make your ears rotate'. In fact, swivelling ears is an outcome induced by much of Rose's largey unclassifiable work. Billed as a 60th anniversary collection, this handsomely produced and monumental set comes with copious notes, curious photos and tributes from appreciative friends. There's even a signed and numbered envelope containing strands of used bow-hair. But once the music starts, the stability of those relics and testimonials dissolves into a Rosean vortex of fleeting events and rapid transitions, oblique narratives and sublimated obsessions. The violin itself - its physical structure and sonic character -provides a welcome thread of continuity through this bewildering series of twists, turns and unpredictable collisions. An auctioneer's Sprechgesang; a circus performer's whip technique; the liquid trills of lyrebirds; a dingo's bark; ntive Australians using gum leaves as reed instruments; talkback radio; heavy duty excavating machinery; the percussive potential of corrugated iron - Rose is never short of inspiration or collaborators. The data disc included here offers an excellent starting point, with a varied selection of videos documenting his hyperwired creativity. It opens with as solo for 19-string cello and ends with Rose bowing an amplified fence in the outback. In between there are flies, bicycles, fire, furniture and a run in with security outside Sydney Opera House. Occasionally, as in this multimedia violin concerto Internal Combustion or his homage to Charles Ives Charlie's Whiskers, Rose's mercurial imagination does linger in places where more orthodox ambitions might have been fulfilled. But he can be relied upon to fling expectations into a blender and to redistribute conventional ingredients with restlessly disruptive energy. 'Part of my job description' he says, 'is to seek out and find, then promote, the weird, the wild, and the vernacular'. Plenty of each here, and much else to keep ears in a spin until the next anniversary comes around.'
'The scope of this set if pretty vast. There's so much for the listener to take in on Rosin. It's definitely one for those who are already familiar with Rose's methods and madness. And for those already familiar with Rose's music, they will know the effect his music has. One minute he/she may be laughing, the next staring open mouthed at the musicians' virtuosity, the next plugging fingers into the ears aghast at the cacophonous racket. It's all part and parcel of the world of one the finest string players on the planet today. And it's all in a day's work for Jon Rose, string player extraordinaire.'