Roger Redgate

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by

A conversation with Roger Redgate 9 10 15 (Royal Academy of Music. SOUNDBOX)

In conversation, musicking, with Roger Redgate 9 10 15 (Photo: Richard Bram)

In conversation, musicking, with Roger Redgate 9 10 15 (Photo: Richard Bram)

It has been my honour to talk with the composer Roger Redgate for over a decade. In today’s Soundbox session, we discussed the progress of his 4th Quartet, commissioned for my Kreutzer Quartet, and premiered at Wilton’s in the summer of this year.

Roger explained that the idea behind the piece was born in hearing the quartet play, and talk about the Webern ‘Bagatelles’. This was a session which we led last year as part of our residency at nearby Goldsmiths College, where it is our great pleasure to regularly give workshops and to share ideas with the talented student composers and musicians there.

Roger Redgate-Quartet No 4 (World Premiere) Wilton’s Music Hall, July 2015 (Kreutzer Quartet. Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Mihailo Trandafilovski-Morgan Goff-Neil Heyde)

Roger explained the various processes of how he laid the ground work for his quartet by extracting various structures from the Webern quartet. These range from bar structures, rhythmic patternings, through to expressive indications. He showed the notebooks in which he wrote down this extrapolated material, in table form, as well as printouts of how he played with, spun, and wove this material into a structure, a staffage even, on which his startlingly brilliant quartet writing could be hung.

As part of the discussion he discussed how this process relates to his work as an improviser (he is a wonderful violinist), and particularly the challenges and opportunities in bring the complexity of improvised material to the score. He pointed out, fascinatingly, that his expertise and understanding of the violin, enables him to write extremely challengingly for string instruments, but in a way, where the gestures work, technically, without having to test the results himself, violin in hand.

Roger is a composer who is fascinated by ‘what happens’ when his music is performed. The acuteness of his ear, the precision of his writing, is balanced by respect for what his collaborators can bring to the score, to the new roads which interpreters can bring to his writing.




Improvising with Roger Redgate, London 2004. Paul Patterson & Howard Skempton listen. (Photo-Richard Bram)