About

Intarsia (noun) ….

Intarsia can mean a blend of textures in textiles and wood craft, but here we think of it as an intricate blend of patterned musical sounds using a variety of wooden instruments and voice – An acoustic Intarsia.

Intarsia is an emerging duo of performers from diverse backgrounds.  Jo May and Sarah Matthews have worked together since 2018, combining voice, violin, viola, octave fiddle, tenor guitar, balafon and a whole range of other percussion instruments.

The sounds of these wooden instruments blend to create intricate delivery of original and traditional material inspired by English songs, European dance tunes, West African rhythms and more.

This project provides a unique opportunity for Jo (Against the Grain, Stepling, Token Women) and Sarah (Cupola, Moirai, Cross o’th Hands)  to explore music making they cannot in other areas of practice.  To craft new melodies, investigate unusual time signatures, explore innovative combinations of instruments, and cross boundaries of style and genre.  They will draw you in with lilting, hypnotic, and entrancing music. You can sway, sing or just soak in the sounds.

Intarsia’s performances to date include London, Sidmouth, Bristol and Upton-upon-Severn Folk Festivals.

Jo May …

trained as an orchestral percussionist at the Royal College of Music, and began her career working with orchestras such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra and English National Ballet, performing at venues around the UK including the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.

A trip to Sidmouth Folk Festival in 1996 sparked an enthusiasm for traditional music and led to Jo’s involvement in various folk lineups as well as study trips to Senegal, exploring drumming and balafon playing.

In 2018, Jo released the album ‘Leap’ with her group Stepling, a unique blend of music, step dance and song inspired by English traditions. Stepling have performed at many UK folk festivals including Sidmouth Folk Festival, Broadstairs Folk Week and London Folk Festival. This is Stepling’s promo video made by highly acclaimed film-maker Gavin Repton – https://youtu.be/IQJ3mXQjIBY

Jo also works with / has worked with duo Against the Grain, ceilidh band Token Women, Moirai, Folk Dance Remixed, and Chodompa Music with Kathryn Locke. In addition to performing, Jo currently runs spoon playing workshops for schools, teachers’ conferences, festivals and community groups around the UK, as well as abroad. Highlights include the Music and Drama Education Expos in London and Manchester and a recent appearance on CBeebies.  http://www.jomaypercussion.co.uk/spoons.htm

Sarah Matthews …

has been playing the violin since she was very young, enjoying classical music whilst at school, but as an adult she has developed a specialism in folk music and in particular English, French and Swedish traditional dance tunes and English song.  She has a love of playing for dancing, developing rich harmony lines and composing her own songs and dance tunes.  Within the last ten years, Sarah has added the viola and octave violin to her repertoire and loves to explore these rich and sonorous instruments by ear, frequently playing in ensembles adding in improvised harmony lines and chordal accompaniment.

Sarah gained a PGCE in Primary teaching in 1995 and in 2007 she acquired a Masters of Music in Ethnomusicology at Sheffield University.  Since 1995, Sarah has been teaching and has enjoyed running workshops in fiddle and vocal harmony at folk festivals across the UK and in Ontario, Canada.  She is a long-standing and well-respected tutor of the violin / fiddle.  She loves engaging students with an infectious enthusiasm, sharing techniques and arrangement ideas. 

Over the years, she has played with Nancy Kerr, Lucy Ward, Doug Eunson, Cupola, Cupola:Ward, DanceCupola, Peeping Tom, Bill Jones, The Rattlers, Moirai, Cross o’th Hands, storyteller Maria Whatton, OPUS Music CIC as a Musician in Healthcare, and FOLK3D in various folk arts public engagement activities in the Derby area.  With these various line-ups she has toured many of the major folk festivals of UK and Ontario, Canada.

To date, Sarah has been involved in numerous recording projects and albums, most of which can be found here www.cothrecords.co.uk.  In 2012 she recorded her own solo album combining many of her own compositions and favourite traditional dance tunes and songs.  www.sarahmatthewsmusic.wordpress.com

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