Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Boston Branch presents its

19th Annual Concert of Scottish Music and Dance

Highland Traditions

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 3 and 7:30 PM
National Heritage Museum
33 Marrett Rd., Lexington MA 02421

Information: 617 492 8180; Concert@rscdsboston.org

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Advance reservations suggested


Our 19th annual concert highlights two artists who have interpreted and expanded the Scottish repertoire from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first, and who have enabled new generations of fiddlers, pipers, and dancers to find their places in the tradition. Master fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas will be joined by other musicians and dancers to provide an entertaining concert of the Scottish arts.

Alasdair Fraser

Alasdair Fraser has long been regarded as one of Scotland’s premier musical ambassadors. For decades he has performed the rich Scottish fiddle tradition with eloquence, passion, and energy. He has also founded fiddle camps in the US and Scotland that introduce players young and old to the infectious spirit of Scottish music. His inspired playing and teaching have preserved the music of past masters and launched new careers in the present musical generation.

In his collaboration with cellist Natalie Haas, Alasdair continues his journey, exploring the dynamic and rhythmic soul of Scottish dance music together with lyrical, sensitive airs. Dazzling teamwork and driving rhythms marked their debut CD Fire & Grace, which displays their virtuosic yet playful musicianship and their love for Scottish fiddle music. Two award-winning CDs have followed: In the Moment and Highlander's Farewell. You can find sample tracks and videos of their music-making at http://www.alasdairfraser.com/index.html.

“The cello was traditionally the back-up instrument to the fiddle in Scottish dance ensembles, into the 20th century,” says Alasdair, “and it has long been one of my goals to put the cello right back there, at the rhythmic heart of Scottish music. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found such a sympathetic sparring partner in Natalie Haas—we can ‘duck and dive’ around each other, swap melody and harmony lines, or play off each other’s rhythmic riffs. We’re releasing the cello from its orchestral shackles, and unleashing its rhythmic power; it’s very exciting.”

Natalie Haas

At age 11, Natalie first attended Alasdair’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School in California. She began performing in concert with Fraser just four years later. Natalie has since joined the staff at Alasdair’s several music courses, including the Valley of the Moon School, Celtic Connections, and Sabhal Mor Ostaig on the Isle of Skye. A graduate of the Juilliard School in New York, she regularly performs with Alasdair and is a member of American fiddler Mark O’Connor’s Appalachian Waltz Trio. She is a guest artist on several recordings, including Culburnie Records’ Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Volumes One and Two with Alasdair and pianist Paul Machlis. Read more about Natalie at http://nataliehaas.com.

Alasdair and Natalie have played to great acclaim in numerous concert halls and festivals across the U.S. and Europe, including the Scotland at the Smithsonian Festival in Washington, D.C., Glasgow’s Celtic Connections, and the Festival Interceltique in Lorient.

Reviewers’ raves
"Traditional music has always been a connective tissue between cultures, communities, and generations. Witness the duo of Scottish fiddle star Fraser and cello prodigy Haas. He is from Clackmannan, a small town in Scotland's smallest county. She is a Juilliard grad from California. When they met, he was teacher, and she was student. And yet on a new CD, 'In the Moment,' 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, Boston Globe

“Alasdair Fraser and his American musical partner, cellist Natalie Haas, have been investigating and reinvigorating the relationship between their instruments that flourished in former times with spectacular success over recent years. This third album is yet more proof of both the musicians’ and their instruments’ compatibility. [Their recent CD 'Highlander’s Farewell' features] County Clare’s poet of the fiddle Martin Hayes and American old-time master Bruce Molsky [who] shift the accent from Scotland to Ireland to Appalachia on the opening medley, and there are French and Galician interludes as well as a distinctly drawing-room quality on ‘Gloomy Winter’s Noo Awa’.’ At the heart of the album, however, are the sparkling understanding and mutual inspiration that make Fraser and Haas such a classy, self-sufficient pairing and emphasize their ability to give even popular session tunes such as Fergie MacDonald’s ‘Jig Runrig’ and Gordon Dunan’s ‘The High Drive’ a new lift.” Rob Adams, Herald Scotland

Kevin Wisehart (pipes)

A competitive highland dancer from age 5 to13, Kevin began piping at the age of 11. As a twenty-year-old, he became Pipe Major of the Colorado Isle of Mull/St. Andrew Grade 3 Pipes and Drums, which finished second in the Western US Pipe Band Association in 1999. On one occasion, Pete Coors (of Coors Brewing Company) performed on the spoons with the band! Kevin left Denver to attend St. Andrews Presbyterian College, where he was awarded the Scottish Heritage Scholarship for Piping and Highland Dancing. After college, Kevin relocated to play with the Windsor Police Pipe Band, who won numerous national and North American championships between 2001 and 2007. Kevin now lives in the Boston area and serves as the Pipe Sergeant for the Grade 2 Stuart Highland Pipe Band of Bedford, MA, members of which played in our 2011 concert to great applause. His band placed fifth at the 2011World Pipe Band Championships and won the overall piping category in grade 2. Kevin is currently studying with renowned Piobaireachd instructor Nancy Tunnicliffe. For more information about the Stuart Highlanders, visit http://www.stuarthighlanders.com

Beth Murray (piano)

Beth Murray has enjoyed many years with the Scottish community as a pianist, teacher and dancer. Beth teaches piano in her home studio and plays for Scottish, Contra, and English dances. She can be heard on the newly released CD Strawberry Jam, featuring original compositions by band members, Back Cove, a CD of New England tunes, Celebrate Fifty Years of Dancing, a Boston Branch CD celebrating its anniversary, and with fiddler Ed Perlman the Scottish CD Boston Hospitality. Beth has two grown children (both musicians) and a very appreciative husband.

Highland Dance Boston

Founded by Robert McOwen and Karen Campbell Mahoney in 2002, Highland Dance Boston is a performing company that specializes in the traditional and contemporary dances of Scotland. The company includes competitive highland dancers, teachers of Scottish dance, and musicians. Its repertoire includes traditional highland and step dances, as well as original choreographed pieces. The group has performances at the New England Folk Festival (NEFFA), the New Hampshire Highland Games, the Gaelic Roots festival, Burns Nights in various cities, and they recently performed at the Opening Ceremonies of the World Curling Championships in Lowell, MA. They have hosted their own concert of Scottish dance since June, 2007, in Cambridge, MA. Whether performing traditional dances or their own inventive explorations in the Scottish style, they are a treat for the eyes—and (when hard shoe is involved) the ears! For videos of some of HDB’s recent performances, visit http://www.highlanddanceboston.org.

The Demonstration Team of the RSCDS, Boston Branch

The Scottish Country Dance Demonstration Team of the Boston Branch dances at various celebrations, festivals, town fairs, and private events around the New England area. The group performs each year at the New Hampshire Highland Games, the New England Folk Festival, the Boston Celtic Music Festival, and at the RSCDS November concert. It creates original medleys of traditional dances, choreographed for maximum energy, elegance, and audience appeal.

Robert McOwen, Artistic Director

Robert has been involved in Scottish country and highland dancing, as well as Scottish music, for decades. He has taught Scottish dance at camps and workshops across the United States and internationally; he has also performed highland dancing at various events across the country. In 2002, he and Karen Mahoney formed Highland Dance Boston, which performs at festivals and concerts in the New England Area. Since the 1970s, he has made several recordings of Scottish dance music with his wife, fiddler Barbara McOwen. In his spare time, Robert is a Professor of Mathematics at Northeastern University.

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