Alasdair Fraser, one of Scotland’s finest fiddlers, and Natalie Haas, the talented young Californian cellist will perform at the Katharine Cornell Theatre on Thursday, May 15, at 8 p.m.
The musical partnership between Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas has revived and reinvented the pairing of big and small fiddles typical of 18th century Scottish dance music. The two musicians perform with an almost telepathic interplay, dazzling technical prowess and boundless dynamism. They are equally at home playing tunes from the golden era of the 1700s, the age of Burns and Gow, or Mr. Fraser’s own memorable compositions. Ms. Haas switches just as effortlessly as Mr. Fraser from a gentle singing tone to driving, dancing melody.
Alasdair Fraser brings high energy, lyrical fiddling, engaging stage presence, and deep understanding of Scotland’s music. His richly expressive playing transports listeners across a broad musical spectrum, and he weaves through his performances a warm and witty narrative, drawing from a deep well of stories and lore surrounding Scotland’s musical heritage. He has been a major force behind the resurgence of traditional Scottish fiddling in his homeland and the U.S., inspiring many listeners and learners through his recordings, annual fiddle camps, and concerts.
Natalie Haas, a Juilliard School of Music graduate, was just 11 when she first attended Mr. Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School in California. She responded to his challenge to find and release the cello’s rhythmic soul. Now regularly touring with Mr. Fraser throughout Europe and North America, she is in the vanguard of young cellists who are redefining the role of the cello in traditional music.
The duo represented Scotland at the Smithsonian Museum’s Folklife Festival, have been featured on nationally broadcast Performance Today, the Thistle & Shamrock, and Mountain Stage. They both teach at Fraser’s popular annual summer fiddle courses in Scotland and California, and Ms. Haas is on the faculty of Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Mr. Fraser: “I have been pushing to get the cello back into the traditional music scene for years, always on the lookout for a cellist with whom I could have a strong musical conversation, one that incorporates not just the cello’s gorgeous melodic tones, but also the gristly bits — the rhythmic, percussive energy that makes the wee hairs on the back of the neck stand up.”
The duo’s awardwinning debut recording, Fire & Grace, displays powerful teamwork, driving, dancing rhythms, and their shared passion for improvising on the melody and the groove of Scottish tunes. The two instruments duck and dive around each other, swapping melodic and harmonic lines, and trading rhythmic riffs.
The concert offers a remarkable opportunity to hear and watch close at hand first-rate musicians and traditional music heroes in the lovely small Katharine Cornell Theater on Spring street in Vineyard Haven.
Tickets are $15 in advance from Aboveground Records, Island Entertainment and Alley’s store, or $20 at the door. Children are free at the door. For details, call 508-93-6996 or 508-693-3896.