8 February 2020 / So Vintage, Te Awanga / By Rob Harbers
Having played together in various combos for around 10 years, Seattle pair Ian Williams’ and Katie Mosehauer’s current artistic outlet is the Glass Heart String Choir. And tonight they shared a sublime set of classically-tinged songs to an intimate audience in the back room of So Vintage, Te Awanga, the latest iteration of Sitting Room Sessions.
Katie plays harp, violin, viola, cello, harmonium, piano and organ. Ian adds guitar, and, floating above it all, haunting vocals, reminiscent of Neil Young, Thom Yorke, Jeff Buckley and others. His voice calls to mind these singers in its sometimes tremulous qualities, while giving hints of real steel underpinnings. The intensity of the vocals and lyrics are perfectly accompanied by the variety of instruments that Katie cycles through. Their interplay evidenced the long period of creative collaboration, sparking off each other, often without a word being spoken.
A degree of dramatic tension was provided by the revelation that the violin wasn’t perfectly coping with the transition to local conditions, threatening to break, and had been felt to give way a little more during the first song – would it last the night? (We were reassured that there was a backup in the wings…). As it happened, however, the main risk to any instrument arose from a mishap with a KeepCup, in which the guitar potentially could have been damaged, but it survived to play another show, to the relief of all present.
Katie also mentioned a tendency to break technology, generally in search of more notes – perhaps seeking the classical geek’s version of Spinal Tap’s famous amps that went all the way up to 11?
In the event though, there were no breakages, although the emotive rendering of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ may well have shaken things loose in a (glass?) heart or two!
Generally, though, individual song titles seemed largely irrelevant, the focus being on the cinematic intensity of the overall performance. It was a truly moving show, of considerable emotional depth, and one that will stay with the audience for some time to come.
A nice touch, and one with a point of difference, was the nature of the merchandise available, mostly designed and hand made by Katie, particularly the jewellery made from used instrument strings, and flowers used in a video shoot. An admirable example of recycling in a throwaway culture.
Another triumph, then, for local (national?) treasure Jamie Mcphail and his team, and yet more reason to keep an eye on the Sitting Room Sessions – there’ll be one near you!
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