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Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas

USA
“Fraser, one of the most respected of all exponents of the Scots fiddle, would look long and hard to find a more appropriate cellist as a partner. Haas can switch just as effortlessly as Fraser from a gentle singing tone to driving, dancing melody. A positive joy.”
—The Scotsman

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.

The 25-year-old Haas, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, 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’s two recordings, In the Moment and their debut CD, Fire and Grace — both on Fraser’s own Culburnie Records label — are providing a great deal of inspiration to other players. The CDs display the duo’s dazzling teamwork, driving, dancing rhythms, and their shared passion for improvising on the melody and the groove of Scottish tunes. “Haas is the percussive power to Fraser’s fiddle fireworks, providing syncopated, bowed underpinnings to his melodies and solos,” writes Kira Schlechter of The Patriot News.

The duo performs frequently in Europe, and throughout the US and Canada. They have been featured on NPR’s Performance Today, the Thistle & 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 US,
Scotland, and Spain. Natalie also teaches at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

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Brian Doyle

Cape Breton
It is no surprise that Brian Doyle has become the compelling musician we now see on stage. Music was as important as first steps within the vibrant Celtic music scene he was born to on Cape Breton Island, and the rich musical soil of his own Chisholm family was a perfect launching pad for the musical career that was to follow.
On stage since the age of fourteen, Brian has played in the rock and blues scene with many successful groups including his own project Greyloch, a Celtic Rock fusion group nominated for an East Coast Music Award, Rock Album of the Year, in 2000. Brian has also been nominated for ECMAs for albums recorded with Scott Macmillan, and won an award in 1998 for Scott Macmillan Presents: The Minnie Sessions Vol 1.
Brian has played on many recordings and toured nationally and internationally, both with big name acts like Anne Murray and Chris DeBurgh and for Nova Scotia Tourism promotions with East Coast performers like Natalie MacMaster, Beolach, Lennie Gallant and others.

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Ashley MacIsaac

Cape Breton
Since the early 1990s, Ashley MacIsaac has made albums which run the gamut from traditional Cape Breton fiddle music, to boundary busting rock ‘n’ roll-styled fiddle arrangements, to fronting a full on rock band as lead singer. One of the most celebrated Canadian roots musicians of all time, having sold in excess of 500,000 albums, Ashley has garnered international acclaim by playing the fiddle in that hard-nosed, traditional Cape-Breton style, while adding his own spin, mixing genres and updating Celtic music to appeal to a broader spectrum of fans. Considered something of a local legend and prodigy by the time of his impressive 1992 debut Close To The Floor, Ashley broke through to the mainstream with the double-platinum genre-bending Hi, How Are You Today? in 1995. International radio play for the single, Sleepy Maggie, and a regular slot on MuchMusic made Ashley an instant Canadian icon.

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Anita MacDonald & Ben Miller

Cape Breton
Anita MacDonald is a musician, dancer, and Gaelic singer from Little Narrows, Cape Breton. Anita’s fiddle playing has a distinctive sound, influenced by the deep roots of her musical family and her teachers throughout the years. Her energetic style has put her in demand as a performer and teacher, across Cape Breton and beyond.

Ben Miller is a player of Scottish smallpipes, border pipes, and highland pipes, whose repertoire and style draw mainly on the Gaelic traditions of western Scotland and the Canadian Maritimes, blended with a healthy dash of Irish tunes for good measure.
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BEN MILLER & FRIENDS
Deeply rooted into the bedrock of tradition, stemming from the Scottish Gaelic dance-music of the Western Isles and the Canadian Maritimes, create a rich pipe-driven sound. Together they balance the fiery sounds of the pipes and fiddle (Ben Miller – New York & Anita MacDonald – Cape Breton), with subtle and sympathetic rhythm guitar (Koady Chaisson – PEI / Boyd MacNeil – CB), and the lush, ethereal sounds of the Scottish harp (Dominique Dodge – Vermont). This fresh and talented quartet pairs driving dance tunes with expressive Gaelic airs and songs, bringing their listeners a powerful combination of passion and grace.

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Anita MacDonald

Cape Breton
Anita MacDonald is an accomplished musician, dancer, and Gaelic singer from Little Narrows, Cape Breton. She began stepdancing at age four and has wowed audiences with her impeccable timing and neatly choreographed steps. Anita’s fiddle playing has a distinctive sound that comes from her influences and variations on tunes that she has learned over the years from her musical family and teachers. She is the granddaughter of Little Narrows fiddler and guitarist, Charlie Ellis, and noted fiddle player and composer Raymond Ellis is her grand uncle. Anita’s passion for Cape Breton music has inspired her to work extensively with the cultural component of Féis an Eilein, in Christmas Island.

Anita’s energetic style has enabled her to perform throughout Cape Breton and she is often sought after to conduct workshops in music, dance, and song. She has been featured on Jean MacNeil’s Instructional Stepdance Video: Spring In Your Step, Cape Breton Live Radio: Take 01 and Rita MacNeil’s “My Cape Breton Home” Television Special.

Anita recently graduated from Cape Breton University with Bachelor of Arts degree, focusing in History and Gaelic. In 2011, she was recipient of the Frank “Big Sampie” Sampson Award as awarded by the Festival Volunteer Drive’ers Association and supported by Lakewind Sound Studios. “Stepping Stone” features 14 tunes and songs. Anita released the album during Celtic Colours in 2011.

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Andrea Beaton

Cape Breton
Andrea Beaton is the youngest of generations of Beaton and MacMaster musicians, which explains why her music is at once her own and deeply rooted in the Cape Breton tradition. Like her father (Kinnon) and grandfather (Donald Angus), she is a lively violinist and composer, adding fine new music to the island’s repertoire.

Andrea has released six albums including 2010 East Coast Music Award winning “Branches” and her latest, “Little Black Book”, released in 2012. In 2007 she released an album with her father, Kinnon Beaton and in 2006 she recorded “The Tap Session” in Scotland with Troy MacGillivray, Fin Moore, and Luke Plumb. Her previous two releases, “Cuts” (2004) and “License to Drive’er” (2002), were both nominated for East Coast Music Awards.

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Amélie Larade & Christopher Poirier

Cape Breton
Amelie Larade is the daughter of Mark and Donna Larade. She is 11 years old and has been dancing since the age of 5. In that time she has danced for Justin Trudeau and Roch Voisine. Amelie loves to dance and has been working for le Conseil des Arts since she started dancing.

Chris is also a member of a group called Conseil des arts with whom he performs in plays all summer long. This is his third year dancing at Celtic Colours. In his career so far, Christopher, has had the opportunity to dance for the Governor General, Ashley MacIsaac, Roch Voisine and many more.

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Carl MacKenzie

Cape Breton
Carl MacKenzie is a regular performer at dances, concerts and workshops across Cape Breton and has also performed throughout Canada, Ireland, Scotland and the United States. A traditional fiddler from Washabuck, Victoria County, he has a vast repertoire, which he prefers to learn from books. Carl has composed over fifty tunes and his playing is expressive of the musical magic and soul that sets him apart from so many other musicians. Carl has released 11 CDs, the latest being Highland Classic (2007). We are fortunate to have him back with us this year.

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