12 HOURS: Q&A with Kontz + Middleton


12 HOURS   a n   i n t e r v i e w

Director Sasha Amaya interviews mezzo-soprano Rosie Middleton and composer Catherine Kontz on the process for 12 HOURS.

SA: How did this project begin? What were motivating factors and questions for you?

CK: Rosie asked me to look into endurance to create a new piece for her. This started a lovely collaborative process and a fascinating study of the human voice and mind. From a compositional point of view, the duration and the slowness in which processes and progressions are able to unfold is really exciting for me.

RM: I have experienced voice-loss both as a singer and verbally. It is terrifying, but also fascinating, to face this as my livelihood depends on being able to use my voice.


SA: What have thus far been the biggest challenges in the process for you?

RM: Trying to forget the indoctrination from conservatoire training about what constitutes an acceptable sound, taking vocal risks, and being mentally and physically prepared to stay switched on for this length of time!

CK: Getting to grips the the technical aspects so that there remains a strong live element in the audio we hear.


SA: What have you learnt from, respectively, composing and performing a work based around and demanding endurance?

CK: [Working on this theme provides an] opportunity to create without limits and probe what is really possible.

RM: In a durational piece there is so much space: I struggle to slow down my thoughts. As a performer I like to play a lot with character and mood, [but] in this piece everything is stretched out. Through the research process this week I have begun to understand the long-term preparation required for a 12-hour version. ■

Photographs by Olga Ivanitskaya.

For more about 12 HOURS, click here.