“When Giovanna asked me to play some old songs, I didn’t hesitate,” Susanna explained in 2011. “It attracted me, because I like to do songs and put them in another setting than what you usually hear.” Giovanna is Giovanna Pessi, the Swiss-born baroque harpist who had steadily built a dual reputation as a refined interpreter of classical composers and an explorer also open to new music. At last, she had the opportunity to record her debut as a bandleader for the prestigious ECM, so she decided to crisscross her categorizations—to combine the old with the new and put them in conversation. The result, 2011’s 'If Grief Could Wait,' combined covers of Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake with interpretations of 17th-century Henry Purcell pieces and Susanna originals. “It’s a unique and audacious collaboration,” The Guardian raved, “that has the makings of an unlikely cross-genre hit.”
Six years later, Susanna and Pessi have revived and expanded the joint venture, recruiting new musicians and adding to their shared repertoire under the new name Go Dig My Grave. In November 2017, their new quartet—featuring accordion master Ida Hidle and Tuva Syvertsen on Hardanger fiddle, a traditional nine-stringed Scandinavian treasure—debuts at the esteemed Oslo World festival. Four months later, the ensemble arrives for its stateside premiere with assistance from Norwegian accordion player Frode Haltli and Kentucky multi-instrumentalist Cheyenne Mize. Mixing Shakespeare and Joy Division, Purcell and pop, this program dips into darkness to arrive in light, exquisitely expressed by the diaphanous union of Pessi’s harp and Susanna’s voice.
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