Monday, January 20, 2014

Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas in Concert

We'd been waiting for months for the Alasdair Fraser/Natalie Haas concert. Ever since last May when we attended a Northwest Scottish Fiddler concert at the auditorium of the Everett Public Library and learned that they would be holding a workshop with Alasdair Fraser (fiddler) and Natalie Haas (cellist) as instructors, with a Sunday afternoon concert, we planned to go.

Then Tom got sick. It looked for a while like we'd have to miss the concert but, I am glad to report, he was well enough for us to go to Camp Casey on Whidbey Island yesterday to hear these amazing musicians and the participants of the weekend's workshop in concert.

Alasdair Fraser is Scottish through and through. He loves his culture and longs to see the Scottish dialect and way of life celebrated. He said that thirty years ago, the language and traditions of Scotland were out of vogue and many Scottish people felt confused and insignificant. But the Scottish ways are making a comeback, in part, I'm sure, because Alasdair Fraser and other musicians are sharing traditional Scottish fiddle music around the world.

Besides the annual fiddle workshop held at Camp Casey, Fraser also teaches in two fiddling schools/camps in California, one in Scotland and one in Spain! He plays internationally, in solo appearances and with various groups. He often tours with Natalie Haas.

Natalie Haas discovered the cello at age nine, and at eleven attended the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School where she fell in love with Celtic music. She went on to study at Julliard and now teaches, performs and records. Natalie's broad range of styles came through in the concert and the music she and Alasdair make bursts with life and joy.

Many of the songs performed yesterday were written by Alasdair Fraser and appear on their newest recording, Abundance. One, "Glenfinnan Nights," was written on a five-hour car trip to the wedding of a friend, with Alasdair singing aloud the tune that was playing in his head and Natalie writing down the notes. They performed it at the wedding that afternoon! 

There was plenty of head bobbing and foot tapping during the concert, with a few yelps and whistles from the audience. I found it impossible to keep from grinning as I listened.

The concert concluded with the stage full of people, from young kids to retirees, who had attended the workshop, each playing along with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas. Before they began Alasdair invited us to dance. "Throw your chairs in the air and let's boogie!"

Though this video was filmed at another concert, this is one of the pieces they played yesterday. It's proof that you can indeed boogie to Scottish fiddle music!

(You can get more information about the Northwest Scottish Fiddlers on their website. We were told that they are looking for new members, especially cellists.)

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