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Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas

Celtic fiddle and cello blend at the Unitarian Center

Fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas perform the music of Scotland on Friday at 8 p.m., at the Unitarian Center, Fourth and C streets.

The Los Angeles Times said Fraser performs &

&

133; the expressive gamut from deep Celtic melancholy to joyful jig, his fiddle imitations of the bagpipe almost unbelievable, the whole rendered with a humble sincerity, flawless virtuosity and just about the sweetest sound since Fritz Kreisler.&

— — IF YOU GO

— — Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas Unitarian Center, Fourth — and C streets8 p.m. Friday$22, 535-3562

According to the Scots Magazine, &

Alasdair Fraser is recognized throughout the world as one of the finest fiddle players Scotland has ever produced. [His] name is synonymous with the vibrant cultural renaissance which is transforming the Scottish musical scene.&

Fraser&

s richly expressive playing transports listeners across a broad musical spectrum, ranging from haunting laments from the Gaelic tradition to classically-styled airs, raucous dance tunes, and improvisations based on traditional themes. His vast repertoire spans several centuries of Scottish music and includes his own compositions, which blend a profound understanding of the Scottish tradition with cutting-edge musical explorations. He weaves through his performances a warm and witty narrative, drawing from a deep well of stories and lore surrounding Scotland&

s musical heritage.

Fraser has been featured on over 100 television and radio shows in the UK, and on several nationally broadcast programs in the US, including CBS Sunday Morning, NPR Morning Edition, A Prairie Home Companion, and The Thistle Shamrock. On The Kennedy Center Honors Fraser played a special solo tribute to honoree Sean Connery, a fellow Scot. 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.

Vibrant young cellist Haas is already a seasoned performer, recording artist, and teacher. Over the past four years, she has joined Fraser for festival and concert appearances in Scotland, Spain, France, and throughout the U.S. &

People may be familiar with the gorgeous, melodic cello sound,&

says Fraser, &

but they&

re surprised to learn that the cello used to comprise the rhythm section in Scottish dance bands. Natalie Haas unleashes textures and deep, powerful rhythms that drive fiddle tunes. 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 recent graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City, Haas discovered the cello at age nine. Her musical journey found purpose when she fell in love with Celtic music at the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School at age 11. Inspired and encouraged by director Fraser, she began to investigate the cello&

s potential for rhythmic accompaniment to fiddle tunes. Her and Fraser&

s new duo release, Fire Grace, was awarded the Best Album of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards 2004.

Haas also performs with Mark O&

Connor as a member of his Appalachia Waltz Trio. The trio released a live CD, Crossing Bridges, to rave reviews in November 2004. In addition, Haas plays with her sister Brittany (an old-time fiddle master and member of Darol Anger&

s American Fiddle Ensemble), the Irish band Spondoolix, and rock group Solarface.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $22 at the door and $10 for kids 5-17. Tickets are available on-line at www.stclairevents.com, at the Music Coop in the A Street Marketplace, or by calling 541-535-3562.