Interview with Jo Ross, director of Oxford Contemporary Music

jo ross.jpg


Interview with Jo Ross, director of Oxford Contemporary Music


Entertainment and sport


1. How did you get into contemporary music?

I have always loved lots of different types of music from an early age, listening to alternative radio shows as a teenager and reading magazines like Folk Roots. I had a great music teacher at school and also college and was drawn to find out about all sorts of music from round the world. There wasn't the same access to music that there is now with the internet so I mostly relied on recommendations and radio.

2. What do you do for a living?

I work at Oxford Contemporary Music. We organise concerts, gigs and unusual outdoor events, education projects for children and young people and development support for artists. I have always loved and been passionate about bringing people together to make and experience music in places that are inspiring and memorable - outdoors, in beautiful or evocative locations, in unusual and resonant spaces and this has characterised the work that we've presented in Oxford over the past 15 years. We've done events in the streets, museums, Oxford Botanic Gardens, on farms, in churches and on nature reserves.

3. What gig to you remember most?

There are many! I have a very fond memory of a gig we did at North Aston Organic Farm, in collaboration with Finnish accordion player, Kimmo Pohjonen and the owners and farmers there. He recorded sounds of the farm which played as samples in his music and some of the farmers played equipment live in the concert. The event began with Kimmo arriving on a tractor with a torrential rain storm hammering on the metal roof the cow barn. The music was sensational and dramatic and the crowd were dancing in the barn. The farm residents offered tours of the farm and a food art installation to sample their produce in the grain barn.

4. Who are the most famous musicians you have brought to Oxford?

Sadly not many contemporary musicians get really famous but I was proud to host jazz legend Hugh Masekela in a solo gig at SJE Arts and we once hosted a concert at the Holywell Music Room for artist Tom Phillips where he'd invited Brian Eno and other fantastic contemporary composers to present new pieces based on his paintings.

5. Do you play yourself?

I play the clarinet and baritone saxophone - though just for fun with the street band, the Horns of Plenty.

Photograph taken by Ian Wallman.




Graham West and Jo Ross


Museum of Oxford

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