Jo Quail presents The Cartographer at Roadburn 2020

2020 marks the third edition of Roadburn during which we will host specially commissioned pieces of music making their worldwide debut. Already, Roadburn’s commissioned projects have spawned ambitious, life affirming, bone-trembling ensembles that exceeded our expectations and wildest dreams. 2020 is shaping up to continue where we left off, with yet more innovative and exhilarating collaborations…

Jo Quail dipped her toes in the intoxicating waters of Roadburn back in April when she performed alongside Mono, At The Gates, and Myrkur. She may not have been centre-stage but her contributions were not unnoticed; Jo conveys enormous emotion via her passionate and extraordinary cello playing. Our minds were already whirring with ways to put Jo’s creativity firmly in the spotlight at a future edition of the festival, and commissioning her for a special project fit the bill perfectly.

The project is titled The Cartographer, and Jo’s intention is to explore heaviness (something – you may have noticed – we’re rather keen on ourselves), and focus on exploring the juxtaposition between classical and more contemporary music, in this case post-metal. “Arguably heaviness is an emotional concept, reaching far beyond the confines of volume, speed and instrumentation,” Jo says.

Without lyrics to direct the listener towards meaning, much more is left to interpretation in instrumental music; composers and performers alike must find other ways to convey intention. Jo will join forces with Rotterdam’s highly regarded New Trombone Collective – a group of trombonists who pride themselves on innovation, creativity and collaboration – to work towards communicating specific feeling through their combined output.

Five interlinking sections of music will be performed, each one a missive of intent. Whilst the very first public airing of The Cartographer will be at Roadburn 2020, we can expect much of the tension and release, the big builds and the emotional crescendos often found in post metal, performed on classical instruments. The musicians will also employ compositional effects that create the aural illusion of delay and reverb, tools not often employed in more traditional classical compositions or performances. Whatever you think this may sound like – we encourage you to leave your preconceptions at the door; this has all the indicators of a mind-bending, immersive Roadburn experience – we can spot them a mile off; we’ve seen a few.

Roadburn’s Walter comments: “As soon as Jo shared her vision with me I knew that she had hit upon an extremely special idea – one born from dedicated creativity and a mind that approaches composition in seriously innovative and refreshing ways. It’s an honour to provide the platform and the resources to make this happen; I have no doubt that this will become one of those pivotal and important performances in Roadburn’s history.”

Jo Quail presents The Cartographer at Roadburn 2020.

Becky Laverty / August 2019

Jo Quail presents The Cartographer – and Roadburn Festival’s commissioned music series – is possible due to the continued support of Brabant C and The City of Tilburg.

Date: April 18

Time: TBA

Stage: Main stage




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