The musical partnership between Alasdair Fraser, long regarded as one of Scotland’s premier fiddle ambassadors, 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, Stone of Destiny). 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 27-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. 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 powerful rhythm section,” says Fraser. “It’s inspiring to hear the cello unleashed from its orchestral shackles!”
The Duo has just released a third recording Highlander's Farewell and along with 2007's In the Moment and the award winning Fire & Grace -- all on Fraser’s own Culburnie Records label -- they 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.
Alasdair and Natalie last graced the stage of the Jaqua Concert Hall in 2007. It'll be great to have them back.