Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas
515-B North McDonough St.
Decatur, GA, 30030
Doors 5:00 PM / Show 6:00 PM
Alasdair Fraser is one of the greatest carriers of the Scottish fiddle music tradition, a fiddler whose warmly expressive playing, mastery of his instrument and deep understanding of his native music as a venerable and continually evolving art is an inspiration to generations of musicians on both sides of the Atlantic.
Alasdair was born in Clackmannan on May 14, 1955 and began taking classical violin lessons at the age of eight, enduring much teasing and leg-pulling from fellow school pupils at a time when carrying a fiddle case around was considered far from cool. Undeterred, he persevered and found a love of and natural aptitude for the violin which he applied to the Scottish music that he heard at home – his late father, Bob, and his brother, Iain, both being musicians.
In his teens Alasdair played with dance bands and began gathering the compositions of great fiddling forebears including Niel and Nathaniel Gow, William Marshall and James Scott Skinner into a repertoire that is now vast. Twice winner of the Scottish National Fiddle Championship, he also began to notice the connection between speech patterns and musical expression, especially among Gaels and the Doric speaking players in the north-east, and incorporated this into his fiddle style.
Inclined towards science as well as music at school, Alasdair went on to work as a petrophysicist with British Petroleum, a post that took him to California in 1981 and the realisation four years later, while writing out a fiddle tune during office hours, that he was in the wrong job. He decided to concentrate on music and passing on his passion and skills through programmes such as the Valley of the Moon fiddle camp, which he founded among the Californian Redwoods in 1984 and still directs, the fiddle course that he’s run on the Isle of Skye since 1987, and the more recently established Sierra Fiddle Camp, near his home in California.
As a fiddler equally capable of playing haunting Gaelic airs and rumbustious dance tunes and improvising endless variations on traditional themes, Alasdair has worked in a variety of successful partnerships, including his duos with pianist Paul Machlis and guitarist Tony McManus and his acclaimed band Skyedance. He has also guested with The Chieftains, The Waterboys, Itzhak Perlman and Los Angeles Master Chorale, appeared on innumerable broadcasts including A Prairie Home Companion and CBS TV’s Kennedy Center Honors and performed on film soundtracks including The Last of the Mohicans and Titanic. His compositions have featured in works by the Richmond (Virginia) Ballet and Shiftworks Dance Ensemble and his commissions include Fettercairn Suite.
Since 2003 Alasdair has featured in a duo with cellist Natalie Haas, restoring the wee fiddle and big fiddle partnership that flourished in eighteenth century Scotland to contemporary prominence at the cutting edge of tradition-rooted creativity. Their debut album, Fire and Grace, was voted Album of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2004, adding to Alasdair’s North American Independent Record Distributors award for his Dawn Dance album in 1996, and they continue to thrill audiences internationally with their virtuosic playing, their near-telepathic understanding and the joyful spontaneity and sheer physical presence of their music.
Natalie is one of the most sought after cellists playing traditional music today. She and Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser have toured as a duo for twenty years, wowing audiences at festivals and concerts worldwide with their unique sound. Their first album together, Fire & Grace, was awarded Best Album of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards 2004. Natalie has also toured with Mark O'Connor as a member of his Appalachia Waltz Trio. 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. As a studio musician, Natalie has been a guest artist on over 50 albums, including those of Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster, Irish greats Altan, Solas, and Liz Carroll, and Americana icon Dirk Powell.
A graduate of the Juilliard School, where she studied with cellist Fred Sherry, 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 music 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, and to this day, the two continue to resurrect and reinvent the cello's historic role in Scottish music.
Natalie's skills as an educator make her one of the most in demand teachers at fiddle camps across the globe. She also teaches privately and in a workshop setting, and holds an associate professorship at the Berklee College of Music. Natalie now makes her home in Boston, where she is an active member of the traditional music scene.
¨Natalie basically wrote the book on the cello's place in Celtic music.¨ - Peter Winter
¨In the hands of Natalie Haas, the cello becomes a truly magical instrument." - Green Man
"You would think they'd been playing together for centuries. While his fiddle dances, her cello throbs darkly or plucks puckishly. Then she opens her cello's throat, joining Fraser in soaring sustains, windswept refrains, and sudden, jazzy explosions. Their sound is as urbane as a Manhattan midnight, and as wild as a Clackmannan winter." - Scott Alarik
¨[Alasdair and Natalie] create a sumptuous orchestral mix through the subtle art of aural implication, an intricately textured sound built upon Haas’s extended cello technique." - Andrew Gilbert