ELLSWORTH — Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas will perform at the First Congregational Church of Ellsworth, 2 Church St., on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. The Conners Emerson School Swallowtail Fiddlers will be special guests at this performance.
Fraser and Haas will spend the morning at the Connors Emerson School in Bar Harbor, performing for the students and working with the school’s string orchestra. The Acadia School of Traditional Music and Arts and the Conners Emerson School music program are sponsors of the educational program.
The musical partnership between Fraser, long regarded as Scotland’s premier fiddle ambassador, and California cellist Natalie Haas may not seem an obvious one. The 25-year-old Haas, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, wasn’t even born when Fraser was winning national fiddle competitions on the other side of the Atlantic.
But this seemingly unlikely pairing is the fulfillment of a longstanding 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.
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 she 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, Haas is in the vanguard of young cellists who are redefining 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,” said Fraser. “It’s inspiring to hear the cello unleashed from its orchestral shackles!”
The duo’s two recordings, “In the Moment” and “Fire and Grace,” both on Fraser’s own Culburnie Records label, provide a great deal of inspiration to other players.
“Haas is the percussive power to Fraser’s fiddle fireworks, providing syncopated, bowed underpinnings to his melodies and solos,” said Kira Schlechter of The Patriot News.
The duo has performs frequently in Europe and throughout the U.S. 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 U.S., Scotland and Spain. Haas also teaches at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Tickets may be purchased in advance for $25 for adults or $15 for students at www.acadiatradschool.com/concerts. If available, tickets will be sold at the door for $30 for adults or $20 for students. Online ticketing will close at 5 p.m. the day of performance.