Fire & Grace presents ALMA

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Abounding with “sheer joy and energy” (Cambridge Chronicle), the violin and guitar duo Fire & Grace returns with their third album of original arrangements, Alma. Meaning “soul” in Spanish, Alma pairs the music of Bach with an array of folk melodies from around the Iberian Peninsula, along with other musical favourites of the duo. As with acclaimed violinist Edwin Huizinga and Grammy Award-winning guitarist William Coulter’s two previous albums, Fire & Grace and Partita AmericanaAlma is a unique “monument to musical diversity and crossover brilliance … with Huizinga’s Viking stature and red hair whipping around and Coulter grooving with zen-like calmness, they make an engaging pair” (Monterey County Weekly). Alma will be available from JUNO-nominated artist Miranda Mulholland’s Roaring Girl Records label on iTunes and all streaming platforms, and on CD viaFireandGraceMusic.com on November 4, 2021.

Fire & Grace recorded Alma over the course of the past year, in the redwoods of Bonny Doon, California: “We rehearsed in the fairy rings amongst ancient trees and performed in our backyards for small audiences of friends and music lovers,” says Huizinga, “It was a year of finding any and all ways to continue to make music. Out of the ashes of the west coast fires and a global pandemic we discovered so much incredible music that we love.” Coulter agrees: “We were we were both moved by the deep beauty, profound passion and joy, and the soul that we found in this music … full of heart and love and fire and grace.”

The core of the new album is Suite Español, a continuation of Fire & Grace’s journey of arranging the solo music of Bach and blending it with folk music. The Suite presents each of the six movements of the JS Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, arranged for violin and guitar and interspersed by melodies from Spain. These include Mendiokerra, a traditional tune from the Basque region that the duo learned from Irish flute and whistle wizard Brian Finnegan; Ay Linda Amiga (My Beautiful Friend), a 16th-century madrigal; Nana, from Manuel De Falla’s Siete canciones populares españolasMalagueña, a popular Spanish melody; and Muñiera de Chantada; and a beloved, jig-like Galician tune, to pair with Bach’s Gigue, the sixth and final movement.

Featured on the album are several works that Fire & Grace have often performed in concert, including Piazzolla’s enthralling Libertango; a new work from Galician musician Anxo Pintos, Cancro Crú; and the virtuoso Asturias, a piano piece often played by classical guitarists by Catalan composer Isaac Albéniz in a new and fiery arrangement for both instruments. The album also includes a new arrangement of “Summer” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (following their “Winter” on the duo’s debut album). Finally, Alma concludes with an arrangement of the plaintive Tanya’s Tune, composed by Roger Talroth, former guitarist of Sweden’s Väsen.

Performing both Baroque and modern repertoire, Canadian violinist Edwin Huizinga has appeared alongside Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Dawn Upshaw, Mike Marshall, and Stevie Wonder, and has been featured as a soloist with numerous ensembles. He is Artistic Director of the Sweetwater Music Festival and a founding member of ACRONYM, which has released ten albums of previously unknown and unrecorded Baroque music. Huizenga also performs all over the world with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and is a composer for Angel, a new multi-disciplinary presentation by Toronto’s Opera Atelier. As a modern violinist, he has performed in the US and Germany with The Knights NYC, and occasionally works with A Far Cry. Huizinga is also a member of the Juno-nominated indie rock band The Wooden Sky and is a founding member of Classical Revolution, an organization dedicated to shaping the future of concerts and jam sessions in alternative locations around the world.

Grammy Award-winning guitarist William Coulter has been performing and recording traditional guitar music for over twenty years. His most recent solo recording, The Road Home (Gourd Music) was met with critical acclaim. Musical collaborations have been a mainstay of Coulter’s career and have included many tours and recordings including Song for Our Ancestors, with classical guitar virtuoso Benjamin VerderyTime to Sail and One Sweet Kiss and Westward with Kerry-born Irish singer Eilis KennedySimple Gifts – Music of the Shakers with cellist Barry Phillips, and Celtic Requiem with Irish vocalist Mary McLaughlin. His book of transcriptions, Celtic Crossing, published by Mel Bay, includes all the music from his recording of the same name. William Coulter maintains a classical guitar studio at the University of California at Santa Cruz.