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Fiddler, cellist let them sing.

Byline: Bob Keefer The Register-Guard

Scots Magazine has called Alasdair Fraser "one of the finest fiddle players Scotland has ever produced."

Natalie Haas is a young cellist who fell in love with Scottish and Celtic music at the age of 11.

You can see the two of them make music together Thursday night when they play at the John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts as part of its Now Hear This series.

Fraser has been featured on more than 100 television and radio shows in the United Kingdom. Stateside, he has appeared on several nationally broadcast programs , including `CBS Sunday Morning,' NPR `Morning Edition,' `A Prairie Home Companion' and `The Thistle & Shamrock.'

On the Kennedy Center Honors, Fraser recently played a special solo tribute to honoree Sean Connery, a fellow Scot, in a segment that included Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Fraser has made guest appearances with groups as diverse as Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Waterboys and the Chieftains, and as featured soloist along with Itzhak Perlman at New York's Lincoln Center. His film credits include solo performances on the soundtracks of several major films, including `The Last of the Mohicans' and `Titanic.'

He has released several critically acclaimed albums, including the Indie Award-winning `Dawn Dance' (best Celtic album of 1996). Most recently, he released `Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Volume One,' on which Fraser and his longtime collaborator, pianist Paul Machlis, pay tribute to Scotland's master fiddle composers of the past 250 years.

Fraser has contributed to more than 50 albums as guest artist, and his music has been included on top-selling Celtic and New Age compilation albums totaling nearly 2 million units in combined sales.

Fraser lives with his wife and two sons in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. He operates his own Culburnie Records label and makes frequent trips to Scotland and beyond for his numerous en- gagements.

Cello plays a traditional role

A seasoned performer, recording artist and teacher, Haas has joined Fraser over the past four years for festival and concert appearances in Scotland, Spain, France and throughout the United States.

"People may be familiar with the gorgeous, melodic cello sound," Fraser says, "but they're surprised to learn that the cello used to comprise the rhythm section in Scottish dance bands.

"We can `duck and dive' around each other, swap melody and harmony lines, and improvise on each other's rhythmic riffs. She has such a great sense of exploration and excitement for the music; it's a joy to play with her."

A graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City, Haas discovered the cello at age 9. She fell in love with Celtic music at the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School when she was 11.

In addition to her extensive classical music training, Haas plays a broad array of fiddle genres. Encouraged by Fraser, she began to investigate the cello's potential for rhythmic accompaniment to fiddle tunes.

Haas and Fraser's new duo release, `Fire & Grace,' won best album of the year from the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2004.

A California native, she performs with Mark O'Connor as a member of his Appalachia Waltz Trio. In fact, she'll return to the Shedd this spring to perform with the trio.

The Appalachia Waltz Trio released a live CD, `Crossing Bridges,' in November 2004. She and O'Connor premiered his double concerto for violin and cello, "For the Heroes," with the Grand Rapids Symphony in May 2005.

Haas also plays with her sister Brittany, an old-time fiddle master and member of Darol Anger's American Fiddle Ensemble, and with the Irish band the Spondoolix and the rock group Solarface.

CONCERT PREVIEW

Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas

What: Scottish fiddle and cello music

Where: Jaqua Concert Hall, Shedd Institute, 285 W. Broadway

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $16 to $24 through the Shedd ticket office, 434-7000

Information: www .theshedd.org

CAPTION(S):

Fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas have played together for four years, performing all around the world.
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Title Annotation:Entertainment; Acclaimed performers knit together sounds to make traditional music
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 20, 2006
Words:666
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