The Martha Bassett Show

Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas / The Dan River Girls / Bill West

Sat, Feb 9, 2019
The Reeves Theater & Cafe

Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas


The musical partnership between consummate performer Alasdair Fraser, "the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling", and brilliant Californian cellist Natalie Haas spans the full spectrum between intimate chamber music and ecstatic dance energy. Over the last 18 years of creating a buzz at festivals and concert halls across the world, they have truly set the standard for fiddle and cello in traditional music. They continue to thrill audiences internationally with their virtuosic playing, their near-telepathic understanding and the joyful spontaneity and sheer physical presence of their music.

Fraser has a concert and recording career spanning over 30 years, with a long list of awards, accolades, radio and television credits, and feature performances on top movie soundtracks (Last of the Mohicans, Titanic, etc.). In 2011, he was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. Haas, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, is one of the most sought after cellists in traditional music today. She has performed and recorded with a who's who of the fiddle world including Mark O'Connor, Natalie MacMaster, Irish supergroups Solas and Altan, Liz Carroll, Dirk Powell, Brittany Haas, Darol Anger, Jeremy Kittel, Hanneke Cassel, Laura Cortese, and many more.

This seemingly unlikely pairing of fiddle and cello is the fulfillment of a long-standing musical dream for Fraser. His search eventually led him to find a cellist who could help return the cello to its historical role at the rhythmic heart of Scottish dance music, where it stood for hundreds of years before being relegated to the orchestra. The duo's debut recording, Fire & Grace, won the coveted the Scots Trad Music "Album of the Year" award, the Scottish equivalent of a Grammy. Since its release, the two have gone on to record four more critically acclaimed albums that blend a profound understanding of the Scottish tradition with cutting-edge string explorations. In additional to performing, they both have motivated generations of string players through their teaching at fiddle camps across the globe.

" … you would think they'd been playing together for centuries. While his fiddle dances, her cello throbs darkly or plucks puckishly. Then [Haas] 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."— Boston Globe

"As many gigs as they must have played together over the past decade or so, there remains a striking spontaneity about Fraser and Haas's music-making. He has tonal variation and attack to spare, but what makes them so consistently absorbing is the responsiveness each shows to the other. Haas is more than a cellist: she's the rhythm section who uses the percussive chip'n'chop of her bowing and the double bass-like pulse of her pizzicato playing to great effect. The accompanist's role moves so fluently between them, building tension all the while, and then they'll slip into unison and it's like floodgates opening. "— The Herald

"Fraser, one of the most respected of all exponents of the Scots fiddle, would look long and hard to find a more appropriate cellist as a partner...A positive joy."— The Scotsman

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The Dan River Girls


The following was presented in "Forsyth Woman Magazine".

These three sisters have been playing music for most of their lives, and are true students of the art of making music. 

What inspired you to start playing music?

Ellie… I don’t know what inspired me when I first started playing, probably my parents, but as time has gone on, I have been inspired by the ability music has to transcend language, religion, and all the differences that make us human.

Jessie… I started with classical music, which I still love. We started playing bluegrass because it was fun, and because we live in North Carolina, where a lot of fiddle music has its roots.

Fiona… My parents inspired me when I was five years old to start playing cello; Jacqueline Du Pre’s and Sol Gabetta’s recordings inspired me to keep it up; mandolinists such as Chris Thile inspired me to take up mandolin.

What did you enjoy most about the recording process?

Ellie… Whenever I record, my favorite thing about it is being able to freeze the progress we have made as a band and as individual players.

Jessie… Recording: it gives me the chance to experiment more and add lines of harmonies you can’t do in a live performance.

Fiona… I enjoy arranging the songs and writing beautiful harmonies for one instrument that can only be recorded and not played live.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

Ellie… Della Mae, Edgar Meyer, Honeycutters.

Jessie…Rex McGee and Martha Bassett (our teachers), Julia Fischer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Della Mae, Alasdair Fraser and Adam Sutherland (Scottish fiddlers we study with in the summer), David Bowie.

Fiona… Della Mae; opera composers such as Wagner, Verdi, and Puccini; our uncle Kevin Burdette, who is an opera singer; Martha Bassett; Rex McGee

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Bill West


Bill West takes great pride in the art of song crafting. One voice. One guitar. Over 2,000 shows and counting. 9 states. 2 countries. Over 200,000 miles on the road. Thousands of satisfied listeners. Smooth vocals. Lyrics that come from a heart that shares the exact same memories as yours. Melodies that create instant nostalgia.

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Season sponsored by
  • Bowen Town & Country Furniture
  • ICON
  • Mast
  • Buckeye Advisors
  • Sponsor
  • Atrium Health - Wake Forest Baptist
  • Explore Elkin
  • G&B Energy
In partnership with
  • Lowes Foods
  • Piedmont Opera
  • The Carolina Experience
  • Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County
  • Reeves Theater
  • Historic Elkin
  • WFDD
  • ElectroMagnetic Radiation Recorders