The musical partnership between Alasdair Fraser, long regarded as Scotland’s premier fiddle ambassador, and the sizzlingly-talented young California cellist Natalie Haas may not seem an obvious one. Fraser, acclaimed by the San Francisco Examiner as “the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling,” has a concert and recording career spanning 30 years, with a long list of awards, accolades, television credits, and feature performances on top movie soundtracks (“Last of the Mohicans,” “Titanic”). Fraser has been sponsored by the British Council to represent Scotland’s music internationally, and received the Scottish Heritage Center Service Award for outstanding contributions to Scottish culture and traditions.
Haas, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music who now lives in Montreal, wasn’t even born when Alasdair was winning national fiddle competitions on the other side of the Atlantic.
But this seemingly unlikely pairing is the fulfillment of a long-standing musical dream for Fraser, whose cutting-edge musical explorations took him full circle to find a cellist who could help him return the cello to its historical role at the rhythmic heart of Scottish dance music.
Natalie Haas was just 11 when she first attended Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School in California. She responded to Fraser’s challenge to find and release the cello’s rhythmic soul, and four years later, when Natalie was just 15, Fraser and Haas played their first gig together. Now regularly touring with Fraser and creating a buzz at festivals and in concert halls throughout Europe and North America, Natalie is in the vanguard of young cellists who are re-defining the role of the cello in traditional music. “Cellists are coming out of the woodwork to study with Natalie, to learn how she creates a groove and a whole chunky rhythm section,” says Fraser. “It’s inspiring to hear the cello unleashed from its orchestral shackles.”
The duo has performs frequently in Europe, and throughout the U.S. and Canada. They have been featured on NPR’s “Performance Today”, “Thistle and Shamrock” and “Mountain Stage,” and represented Scotland at the Smithsonian Museum’s Folklife Festival. In addition, Fraser and Haas have busy teaching schedules, including summer fiddle courses in the U.S., Scotland, and Spain. Natalie also has served as a teacher at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
“It is a real feather in Colebrook’s cap to attract this pair to town,” said President Charlie Jordan of the Great North Woods Committee for the Arts. “They pack in audiences everywhere they play. The last time they appeared here they drew audience members from three and four hour distance.” Advance tickets for the show are available at Fiddleheads on Main Street in Colebrook or at the door the night of the concert. For more information on this and other GNWCA events, visit www.gnwca.org or call 237-9302 or 246-8998.