a new interface between improvisation and composition by Cathy Milliken and Jon Rose
Rock / Paper/ Scissors exists as composed segments, improvisation, and textual propositions to be performed by a conductor, soloist, and musicians. It will therefore necessarily be a differently structured composition each performance. Here in its workshopped premiere, Rock / Paper / Scissors delves into the negotiation involved in communicating and interpreting a simultaneous open and closed score. The composition itself is an exploration of the joy of immediacy in structured improvisation and collective harmonising of musical ideas. Inspired by Jon Rose’ extraordinary musical legacy of composition exploration, performance and innovation, Jon and composer Cathy Milliken collaborate to present their new work Rock / Paper / Scissors together with their esteemed colleagues from Ensemble KNM Berlin.
Sparks fly in a sonic conversation between internationally recognised experts in their field: a composer and conductor (Cathy Milliken) and an improvising musician (Jon Rose). The composition utilises an orchestra, a written score, an improvising soloist, all mediated by the conductor - a dialogue created in the moment. Rock/ Paper/ Scissors brings together in conversation and collision musical processes that are often considered opposite ends of the classical music continuum. Rock/ Paper/ Scissors is a risk-taking adventure championing sonic expression from two creators at the top of their crafts.
Rock/ Paper/ Scissors chief innovation brings together musical processes that are normally considered at opposite ends of the musical continuum. The word "improvisation" may recently have become an all-purpose buzzword for just about any musical process, but composition and improvisation are modus operandi that have historically been kept in their cultural boxes. Each method requires a different set of skills and, above all, much time and commitment spent in the practice of 'the doing'. In the second half of the 20th century, the development and use of graphic scores, indeterminancy, and chance procedures opened some doors for co-existence but shut others; composers and experienced improvisors have largely kept to themselves over the last 40 years.
The ‘rocks’ use regular notation and graphics. These events can be wrapped (disguised) and/or cut up in any order - hence the live editing 'Scissors'. The conductor takes the spontaneous decision to interpolate the order of events. The improviser’s role is to navigate between all the elements presented in real time and as in all improvisation - to compliment, challenge, confront, ignore, or present a strong counterpoint to the proceedings as instigated by Cathy (conducting).
This kind of collaboration is still new in classical music (the days of the lone genius are happily behind us). Cathy and I are trusting and empathetic of each other and value each other’s achievements. Although our aesthetics, experiences, and skills differ, we are excited to set off together on this adventure.
Jon Rose © 2023
Ensemble KLM Berlin:
Rebecca Lenton, Flöte / Maxim Kolomiiets, Oboe / Theo Nabicht, Bassklarinette / Damir Bacikin, Trompete / Johannes Lauer, Posaune / Daniel Eichholz, Schlagwerk / Theodor Flindell, Violine / Wolfgang Bender, Violine / Sarah Saviet, Violine / Kirstin Maria Pientka, Viola / Cosima Gerhardt, Violoncello / Ringela Riemke, Violoncello / Caleb Salgado, Kontrabass.
Andre Bartetzki, Sound / Francisco Petrucci, Light.
Inpetto Film Produktion / Uli Aumüller, Sebastian Rausch.