by Stephanie Manning
An audio recording does not do Fire & Grace & Ash justice. In their 2019 album, Partita Americana, the trio — Edwin Huizinga, violin, William Coulter, guitar, and Ashley Hoyer, mandolin — brought first-rate musicianship to a melting pot of classical, bluegrass, and folk music. It’s a record that’s impressive enough on its own, but it paled in comparison to the trio’s live, in-person concert on April 30 at St. Malachi Church.
The opening few minutes were the perfect introduction to the range of styles ahead, flowing seamlessly through Bach, the classic folk tune “The Wayfaring Stranger,” and an energetic fiddle piece. The three musicians, who moved naturally as a unit, clearly enjoy making music together, and their mood was infectious. Huizinga’s resonant violin sound filled up the space, while Coulter on guitar was a steady, reliable bass voice. In the face of two louder instruments, Hoyer’s mandolin was sometimes more difficult to hear — but her time to shine came during her piece Two Trees, a sentimental tune that brought her crystal-clear tone to the forefront.