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!’
With The Great Fences of Australia Jon has travelled across every state and territory, playing and recording the unique sounds of hundreds of fences, including the well-known 'Dog Fence' and 'Rabbit-Proof Fences'.
“While Jon is known as a composer or a violinist, he is in the broadest possible sense, an artist,” says Matthew. “His work is not divided into categories but flows from one end of the spectrum to the other, moving freely between art forms.”
Jon Rose started playing violin at the age of seven, but quickly disregarded formal training and has since spent his time exploring everything conceivable, and beyond, that can be done with a violin. This includes building of a range of previously unimagined instruments such as the double piston, triple neck wheeling violin; the 19-string cello and the bicycle-powered double violin.
His exploration of the violin is captured in his life’s work, the Relative Violin Project which, beyond instrument making, has involved writing books, radiophonic works, films, the development of extended string techniques, the founding of a semi-fictional violin museum (The Rosenberg Museum), and a plethora of large scale multi-media performances often placing the violin outside of the concert hall.
Jon is committed to encouraging a broader understanding of music. In 1977, he started Australia’s first musician run collective for the promotion and recording of improvised music, Fringe Benefit. In 2002 he set up the Australia Ad Lib website for the ABC, an interactive record of, and guide to Australia's diverse music-making.
He is also well known for his work with interactive electronics, particularly with his development of the interactive violin bow, or K-Bow. He has turned sports into musical and mixed-media compositions such as netball games (Team Music), pieces for kites and kayaks, a giant environmental ball piece (Sphere of Influence) and developed a whole chamber orchestra of bicycle-powered musical instruments, Pursuit, which will have a revival in Australia in 2013 as part of the Centenary of Canberra celebrations.
“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.”
The Australia Council Don Banks Music Award is presented at the Museum of Western Australia, March 21 at 6:30pm, as part of the Tura New Music 2012 program launch.