EXCLUSIVE SETS: Jo Quail still participating in Roadburn Redux

Originally due to perform her commissioned project, The Cartographer, at Roadburn 2020, Jo Quail gamely signed on for Roadburn Redux with the highest of hopes to perform for us this April. Due to travel restrictions, that already postponed performance is on hold once more. However, Jo was willing to participate in Roadburn Redux – and we couldn’t be more delighted to still have her involved.. We’ll hand over to her to explain further…

“Whilst as an ensemble we are very disappointed not to be able to present ‘The Cartographer’ to you this year, we are – all 15 of us – thrilled to be able to bring this piece to you in person in 2022.

Following this inevitable postponement, Roadburn offered me the opportunity to present some solo works to you instead. We were able to film these for you from The Black Heart in Camden, a very important music venue that has recently been saved from closure following a highly successful crowd-funding campaign; recording from this venue, for Roadburn Redux, feels highly appropriate.

The first piece I will play for you is ‘Maquette’ and this is a world premiere. I have never performed ‘Maquette’ and it existed, up until now, only as a sheet-music sketch on the sleeve of my album ‘Exsolve’. ‘Maquette’ is a collection of ideas, a miniature sculpture of each of the pieces on ‘Exsolve’. It’s a musical exploration of texture, colour, light and shade, and when I played with these ideas I constantly had the works of Barbara Hepworth in my mind’s eye. It’s improvisatory, and it’s about what it feels like to play cello.

Each piece on ‘Exsolve’ would begin with me playing ‘Maquette’, and then through trial and error, a mistake, a “wrong” note, the next piece would be born – yet ‘Maquette’ never made it on to the record in this miniature version as a whole. I thought it would be something you might like to hear; it is the palette of colours I worked with when I wrote the rest of ‘Exsolve’, and it is a piece I suspect will continuously develop each time I bring it to the stage.

The second piece I will play for you is ‘Rex Infractus’. This is the first track from my first album ‘From The Sea’, released in 2010, and I have not played this live for at least 6 years – if not more. There’s quite a long story here so I’ll try to be as succinct as possible! ‘Rex Infractus’ is a piece I love, but it always belonged to a previous era somehow for me, and naturally dropped away from my live repertoire. It was inspired originally by T.S. Eliot’s ‘Little Gidding’ and in my mind there are several musical references to this poetry when I consider it. I’ve never revisited an old piece before, so this was a very new experience for me.

One of the most powerful moments in Little Gidding’ for me is this:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

This poetic observation aptly describes much of my writing process, whether modelling one sound or focussing on a phrase or even an entire piece; there is a long meandering musical road and then often I return to where I started, but with a new understanding of the music enabling me to finalise my ideas from this point.

I wanted to bring you something new for Roadburn Redux, and so I decided to re-explore ‘Rex Infractus’, and to see what else might lie beneath the surface 10 years further on. I played the piece as I remembered it, and then began to improvise beyond the ending of the original work. This week, when working on this new version for you, I had a profound sensation that all the new parts of this track (and there are many!) were somehow always there, I just hadn’t found them the first time round.

I hope you enjoy these two pieces and I cannot wait to play for you – and meet you – next year.”

Jo Quail will perform at Roadburn Redux between April 16-18.

Becky Laverty

Date: April 16

Time: 19.10 CEST

Type: Exclusive Sets