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Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas

Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas
Alasdair Fraser with Natalie Hass, with whom he will perform for the Hampshire County Arts Council in Romney on Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 4PM at The Bottling Works

". . . the expressive gamut from deep Celtic melancholy to joyful jig, his fiddle imitations of the bagpipe almost unbelievable, the whole rendered with a humble sincerity, flawless virtuosity and just about the sweetest sound since Fritz Kreisler." —L.A. TIMES

"Alasdair Fraser is recognized throughout the world as one of the finest fiddle players Scotland has ever produced. [His] name is synonymous with the vibrant cultural renaissance which is transforming the Scottish musical scene." —SCOTS Magazine

Master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser is a consummate performer. His dynamic fiddling, engaging stage presence, and deep understanding of Scotland's music have created a constant and international demand for his solo appearances and concerts with a variety of ensembles. Alasdair has been a major force behind the resurgence of traditional Scottish fiddling in his homeland and the U.S., inspiring legions of listeners and learners through his recordings, annual fiddle camps, and concerts. He has represented Scotland internationally through performances sponsored by the British Council, and has been awarded touring support by the California Arts Council, with the ranking of "highest priority for inclusion on the roster; considered 'model' in stature."

Alasdair's richly expressive playing transports listeners across a broad musical spectrum, ranging from haunting laments from the Gaelic tradition to classically-styled airs, raucous dance tunes, and improvisations based on traditional themes. His vast repertoire spans several centuries of Scottish music and includes his own compositions, which blend a profound understanding of the Scottish tradition with cutting-edge musical explorations. He weaves through his performances a warm and witty narrative, drawing from a deep well of stories and lore surrounding Scotland's musical heritage.

Fraser has been featured on over 100 television and radio shows in the UK, and on several nationally-broadcast programs in the US, including CBS Sunday Morning, NPR Morning Edition, A Prairie Home Companion, and The Thistle & Shamrock. On The Kennedy Center Honors (CBS TV) Fraser played a special solo tribute to honoree Sean Connery, a fellow Scot. Alasdair has made guest appearances with groups as diverse as Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Waterboys and The Chieftains, and as featured soloist along with Itzhak Perlman at New York's Lincoln Center. His film credits include solo performances on the soundtracks of several major films, including The Last of the Mohicans and Titanic.

Alasdair has released several critically acclaimed albums, including the Indie Award-winning Dawn Dance (Best Celtic Album of 1996), and most recently, Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Volume One, on which Fraser and longtime collaborator pianist Paul Machlis pay tribute to Scotland's master fiddle composers of the past 250 years. Fraser has contributed to more than 50 albums as guest artist, and his music has been included on top selling Celtic and New Age compilation albums totaling nearly two million in combined sales.

Fraser performs in concert as a soloist; with pianist Paul Machlis; with Scottish guitarist Tony McManus; with Cellist Natalie Haas and with his band Skyedance, which features new music arranged for fiddle, pipes, flute, keyboards and percussion. In great demand as a dance musician, Alasdair plays for Scottish country dancing with pianist Muriel Johnstone. He also directs the 100-member San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers orchestra.

Through two summer programs that he founded nearly two decades ago - the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School in California and a week-long course on the Isle of Skye - Alasdair has inspired hundreds of aspiring and accomplished musicians. Several of his tunes are now standard in the repertoire for Scottish, Irish, and contra dancing, and can be heard in sessions from Edinburgh to Canberra. His compositions have been featured in new choreography commissioned by the Richmond (Virginia) Ballet and Shiftworks Dance Ensemble. His commissioned works include "Fettercairn Suite" for Whyte & Mackay Distillers.

Fraser lives with his wife and two sons in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California, operating his own Culburnie Records label and making frequent trips to Scotland and beyond for numerous engagements.

Natalie Haas

Vibrant young cellist Natalie Haas is already a seasoned performer, recording artist, and teacher. She has joined master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser for festival and concert appearances in Scotland, Spain, France, and throughout the U.S., including Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Scotland, the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in France, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. "People may be familiar with the gorgeous, melodic cello sound," says Fraser, "but they're surprised to learn that the cello used to comprise the rhythm section in Scottish dance bands. Natalie Haas unleashes textures and deep, powerful rhythms that drive fiddle tunes. We can "duck and dive" around each other, swap melody and harmony lines, and improvise on each other's rhythmic riffs. She has such a great sense of exploration and excitement for the music; it's a joy to play with her!"

A recent graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City, Natalie discovered the cello at age nine. In addition to having extensive classical music training, she is accomplished in a broad array of fiddle genres. Her musical journey found purpose when she fell in love with Celtic music at the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School at age 11. Inspired and encouraged by director Fraser, she began to investigate the cello's potential for rhythmic accompaniment to fiddle tunes. Her and Fraser's duo release, Fire & Grace, was awarded the Best Album of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards 2004.

A California native, Natalie currently resides in Boston. She has toured extensively with Mark O'Connor as a member of his Appalachia Waltz Trio. The trio released a live CD, Crossing Bridges, to rave reviews in November 2004. She and O'Connor premiered his double concerto for violin and cello, "For The Heroes," with the Grand Rapids, East Texas, and San Diego Symphonies. Natalie has also toured and recorded with fiddler Natalie MacMaster. She teaches privately, in a workshop setting, at various fiddle camps, and at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

"She's so simpatico that we can have these wonderfully shared musical journeys that actually very rarely would involve planning, other than to say, 'Here's where we're going to begin, here's where we're going to end up, and we know the material, now let's just connect.' I think that's something a lot of musicians strive for, and I feel very fortunate to have someone I can play with that goes there." - Alasdair Fraser, Master Scottish Fiddler

“Natalie is a 19-year old cellist who has traditional music very much figured out, has grasped it by the short-hairs, and is helping to lead it into new territory. She is among the first of a very new breed of young musicians who are approaching music traditions with the highest level of virtuosity and respect for the old-fashioned styles, but at the same time breathing into them the new life that will ensure they remain with us. Natalie makes the tunes her own. She plays with solid rhythm, warmth of tone and depth of feeling...I know we'll be hearing more about Natalie.” - Bruce Molsky, Appalachian Fiddle Master

"Haas can switch just as effortlessly as Fraser from a gentle singing tone to driving, dancing melody; and more than once she showed (gasp!) rock'n'roll influences bordering on the sinful." - Brian Miller, Celtic Roots, BBC Radio Scotland

"A welcome trend of recent years has been the cello's reinvention as a folk instrument (or rather, in Scotland, its re-emergence - it used to be a regular fixture in dance bands). As 18-year-old Natalie Haas brilliantly demonstrated on Thursday, accompanying the California-based Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser, its depth of resonance and percussive potential put a potent spin on the rhythms of Celtic music." - Sue Wilson, Sunday Herald

"Haas can make her instrument sound like the drone of a hurdy-gurdy, the jangle of a guitar, or the thump of a string bass, and she can carry the tune of fast jigs and reels as well."- Robert Dawson Scott, The Times

Fraser's website         Haas's website

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