December 19, 2009
Natalie has some little elves looking after the merchandise tables on
the Christmas tour...
December 17, 2009
Natalie MacMaster brings a Cape Breton Christmas to Morristown
been to Cape Breton. But after watching Natalie McMaster's Christmas
show at the Community Theatre in Morristown, we're ready to book the
first sled dog team heading north.
It's hard to
decide what was more fun tonight: Watching sparks fly off Natalie's
fiddle strings, seeing her do a Celtic moonwalk, or hearing her talk.
bubbly lady speaks Canadian. Her peppy, doncha-know,
stream-of-consciousness banter was almost as entertaining as her
high-kicking fiddle playing. This was complemented by audio clips of her
dear mum reminiscing about young Natalie's first fiddle, at age 9.
"Nine-and-a-half," Natalie's father is heard to say, in what may be the
only words he's ever gotten in edgewise.
It's too bad
that Natalie's cellist, 15-year-old Nathaniel Smith, never got a chance
to speak. He's from Mississippi. That could be an interesting
In the end,
though, it was the music that lifted fans to their feet. Three young
kids have not sapped the energy of the 36-year-old Natalie, at least not
by the looks of this two-hour concert.
Hear Natalie in concert with Symphony Nova Scotia on CBC Radio's
Concerts on Demand.
Click here to read a
personal holiday message from Natalie...
Grammy Nomination for "Yo-Yo Ma & Friends: Songs of Joy & Peace"
Yo-Yo Ma &
Friends: Songs Of Joy And Peace [Sony Classical] has been nominated for
award in the "Best Classical Crossover Album" category. The album
features a track with Natalie MacMaster as well as Diana Krall,
Alison Krauss, Edgar Meyer, James Taylor, Odair Assad, Sergio Assad,
Chris Botti, Dave Brubeck, Matt Brubeck, John Clayton, Paquito d'Rivera,
Renée Fleming, D, Cristina Pato, Joshua Redman, Jake Shimabukuro, Silk
Road Ensemble, Chris Thile, Wu Tong, Alon Yavnai & Amelia Zirin-Brown.
December 17, 2009
No Fiddling Around. Natalie MacMaster promises surprises, tradition and
spirit of family in 'Christmas in Cape Breton' shows
By Rosemary Ford, The Eagle Tribune
You want to
know what famed fiddler Natalie MacMaster is playing at her upcoming
"Christmas in Cape Breton" shows?
She's not telling.
don't like to talk about it," said MacMaster in an interview in advance
of two shows at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, N.H.
"I like it
to be a surprise."
a bit beyond laying out her playlist to entice people to come to her
show. The performer with gold albums and a recent Grammy nomination to
her credit sells out shows on her name alone.
professional career began at age 16, nearly about 20 years ago. She grew
up in a musical household, where Celtic music was always on the record
to fiddle because I grew up in a fiddle-friendly household," she said.
"My mother always had fiddles playing on the record player. The
community I grew up in had a lot of fiddle concerts. It was all around.
I loved it."
She got her
first instrument from a relative as a gift. And in the years that
follow, MacMaster didn't exactly have trouble figuring out how to make a
living as a musician. She had a blueprint for success from her uncle,
acclaimed fiddler Buddy MacMaster.
never been hungry, so to speak, for stardom or fame," she said. "I am
very much a believer of work hard, practice hard but let life unfold as
it will naturally. That is not to say that I am one to say that I am
completely carefree and don't give a thought to the next day. It has
unfolded very naturally."
main focus has been the traditional Celtic music she grew up with in
Cape Breton, a community with roots in Scotland and Ireland in Nova
Scotia, MacMaster also has wowed with her ability to bring different
flavors and influences into Celtic music.
"I love all
kinds of music, any kind of music," she said. "As long as it is well
played, I enjoyed it. I grew up with pop, rock, heavy metal."
collaborations with a flamenco guitarist to classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma,
MacMaster has become known as an innovator. She has created interesting
spins on traditional Celtic music, with the likes of banjo prodigy BÃ©la
Fleck, fellow fiddling marvel Alison Krauss, and electrifying superstar
guitarist Carlos Santana.
list of cohorts reads like a who's who of serious musicians, MacMaster
isn't wound up in the ins and outs of the music industry. When the
Grammy nominations were announced earlier this month, she didn't even
know it was that time of year, let alone that she was part of a
Grammy-nominated project (Ma's holiday CD, "Songs of Joy and Peace").
expect it," she said. "I don't think like that."
the Celtic classics that are her favorite and she plans to pepper those
in along with holiday favorites at her concerts in Portsmouth.
of a Christmas show than I have ever done in the past," she said. "Lots
of dancing, lots of Christmas music, there's a local choir guesting, a
couple of real tender moments where my mother speaks to the audience."
She said her
holiday shows help get her in the Christmas spirit and ready to
celebrate with her family back home. She's been traveling with her two
young daughters — ages 4 and 10 months. Her husband, fiddler Donnell
Leahy, has been performing and traveling with her 2-year-old son.
"I am a
Christmas girl," she said. "I think it is the best time of year. I will
be baking and loving up my family."
holidays are over, MacMaster will get back to work on her latest album
which will feature traditional Celtic music — her first in eight years.
The album should be available by March or April.
pure, honest music. It doesn't come from wealth and popularity," she
said. "It comes from tradition and family. Therefore it has longevity. I
don't think it will ever stop being appealing to people of all walks of
About the artist
13, 1972 to parents Alex and Minnie MacMaster in Troy, Inverness County,
Nova Scotia, Showed her fiddling prowess at age 9 at concert in
Glendale, Cape Breton.
her first album, "Four On The Floor," at 16.
Grammy-nominated for "My Roots Are Showing," "Blueprint" and "Yours
Holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Nova Scotia Teacher's College.
Performed with The Chieftains, Paul Simon, Faith Hill and Luciano
Pavarotti, among others.
If you go
Natalie MacMaster, "Christmas in Cape Breton."
When: Sunday, Dec. 20, at 2 and 7 p.m.
Where: The Music Hall, 104 Congress St., Portsmouth, N.H.
How: Tickets are $34 and $43, available at The Music Hall box office, 28
Chestnut St., Portsmouth, by calling 603-436-2400, or visiting
December 16, 2009
show blends Christmas with Celtic
Fiddler brings award-winning sound to Clemens Center
Natalie MacMaster, a fiddler who specializes in the sounds of her native
Cape Breton, will perform a Christmas show Monday at the Clemens Center
MacMaster's "Christmas in Cape Breton" program begins at 7:30 p.m.
albums over 27 years, MacMaster has shared the reels and jigs of Nova
Scotia with the world, earning her multiple Juno Awards (the Canadian
equivalent of the Grammy Award). For her Christmas show, she combines
Cape Breton's traditional Celtic fiddle sound with well-known holiday
carols and melodies.
MacMaster grew up in a family of fiddlers and folk musicians. Her uncle
is the fiddler Buddy MacMaster, with whom she recorded an album of
traditional Cape Breton songs, and her cousin is the fiddler
Andrea Beaton. Canadian folk artist
Travis MacRae was a neighbor. Her husband is fiddler Donnell Leahy of
the Celtic band
MacMaster began playing the fiddle at age 9 and released her first album
at age 16. Along with the Celtic music of the Nova Scotia coast, she has
experimented with Scottish and Irish roots music and American bluegrass.
has performed and recorded with musicians such as Bela Fleck, Alison
Krauss, Carlos Antana and Mark O'Connor, and was a guest musician on
cellist Yo-Yo Ma's 2008 holiday album, "Songs of Joy & Peace."
2006, MacMaster was made a member of the Order of Canada. She has
received numerous Canadian Country Music Awards as Artist of the Year,
Fiddler of the Year and Instrumental Artist of the Year.
Tickets cost $30 and $18 (additional fees may apply) and are available
from the Clemens Center box office, online at
www.clemenscenter.com or by calling (607) 734-8191 or (800)
724-0159. Videos of MacMaster performing are available at the Clemens
December 11, 2009
Natalie MacMaster performs 'Christmas in Cape Breton'
By WILLIAM WESTHOVEN , Daily Record.com
Except for a
big Christmas curling tournament, the holiday season for Nova Scotia
native Natalie MacMaster is much the same as it is for her thousands of
fans in the United States.
holiday preparations this year will be rushed, as Canada's fiddling
queen is on a three-week tour of the U.S. that ends Dec. 21. She'll
bring her "Christmas in Cape Breton" concert to Morristown on Thursday,
Dec. 17, marking her third performance at the Community Theatre at Mayo
Center for the Performing Arts.
holiday songs and holiday shows, but this was our first more serious
attempt at putting together a Christmas show," MacMaster said during a
recent phone interview that found her in Iowa City. "I have three
children now and I don't tour quite as much (she's still doing 100 or
more shows a year), but I thought this would be a good time to tour,
before the snow starts falling."
and her husband, Donnell Leahy, leader of the family band, Leahy, are
Canadian musical royalty. Long before their marriage in 2002, both had
established themselves as fiddle virtuosos, leading bands with
international followings that combined traditional Canadian, Celtic,
folk and country-bluegrass styles with contemporary instruments and
have led to dozens of recordings and performances with a who's who of
music, ranging from Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma to Bela Fleck and Carlos
though, has altered her band lineup for this tour, which will emphasize
her roots in the Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, musical style that she grew
up on and has spread around the globe.
switched it up a bit," she said. "The show is 'Christmas in Cape
Breton,' so we brought in mostly Canadians."
fellow Cape Breton native Mac Morin is back in the band, but the
electric guitar and electric bagpipes have been replaced by accordion
Porter (accordion, percussion) is from Halifax, and she is the first
girl in the band," MacMaster said proudly. "John Chiasson (bass, vocals)
is from Nova Scotia. The one exception is Nathaniel Smith, who is from
Mississippi and is only 15. I was looking for a cello player, and Marc
O'Connor (the Grammy-winning American fiddler who co-headlined here with
MacMaster a few years ago) said you have to check this boy out. If you
have not heard him, you're in for a real treat."
December 10, 2009
Fiddler joins Saginaw Choral Society for holiday show
By Sue White, The Saginaw News
a top priority these days for Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster and
her husband, Donnell Leahy, the couple had a new motor home delivered to
their Ontario residence, a way, she said, for them to stay connected
with their extended relatives.
course, neither one of us were there to get it,” MacMaster said from the
road, on her way to perform with the Saginaw Choral Society in its
annual Christmas concert at the Temple Theatre.
fiddler with the group that bears the family name, is touring, too, with
2-year-old son Michael in tow. MacMaster, who will perform her holiday
show and a shared number with the Choral Society after its set, is
traveling with 4-year-old Mary Frances and 9-month-old Claire.
MacMaster’s balancing act comes as the demand for the fiddlers grows,
with audiences entranced with the traditional style of their music.
And it’s not
just music fans but fellow musicians as well, including the
conductor-candidate directing the show in Saginaw.
terrific,” said Kevin Simons, director of music and organist at St. John
Episcopal Church in Saginaw, adjunct instructor of voice at Saginaw
Valley State University and artistic director and conductor of The
Steiner Chorale in Lansing.
Society gave me an option, and I jumped at the chance to work with
Natalie. She’s been great to work with and we’ve taken our cue from her
on developing the program.”
the folk theme, the Saginaw Choral Society will anchor its performance
on the Appalachian-flavored “Star in the East” and fill out the bill
with holiday favorites, including “I Saw Three Ships,” “Deck the Halls”
and “Joy to the World.”
also will perform Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Misterium,” a work Simons
calls “a 20th-century quiet piece.”
the Saginaw shows are sets by the Saginaw Youth Chorale and the Valley
been really fun,” said Simons, who holds a master’s degree in choral
conducting from Central Michigan University and is studying for a
doctorate in music education from Boston University. “I sang with the
Choral Society four or five years ago, when Brian d’Arcy James and Kevin
Cole performed at the Christmas show, and again with Kathy Mattea.
“I know a
lot of the people so it’s been like a bunch of friends getting
brings the same sense of community in her Christmas show.
Breton style is almost like a genealogy, the music of our ancestors,”
said the Nova Scotia native and niece of the famed fiddler Buddy
MacMaster. “I play, sing and dance to music that carries on a bloodline,
and that’s very powerful.”
connection to her heritage, nurtured through visits home, “where just
listening to the music again makes me a better player,” she said, means
she takes her commitment to her own family very seriously. She will play
50 shows this year, a number she calls “comfortable.” And later in 2010,
she and Leahy will tour together, perhaps in the new motor home they
haven’t seen yet.
been parenting very long, and it’s been only nine months that I’ve had
experience raising three children,” MacMaster said. “I’m always
struggling; I do believe that there are great benefits that will come
with including them in our travel and music, but I also want them to
have a sense of home.”
said, she and her husband want a large family, “and as circumstances
change, we’ll have to adapt. We’re living a fairy tale that takes you
away from where you are, and it’s getting harder all the time.”
his wife will remain in Saginaw, he said, “because we can see the
possibilities, that this is a very exciting time for our arts groups.
things are possible when you’re moving up.”
And he sees
the Choral Society’s strength — and its challenge as well — as
weathering the ups and downs and continuing to meet the artistic needs
of the community as well as its own members.
remarkable that they are celebrating their 75th anniversary next year,
and that they’ve probably seen it all in that time,” he said. “But how
relevant will they be in the next 75 years? That’s something they are
already addressing; they’re very aware of the issues facing many arts
If chosen as
its conductor, “I would hope to encourage their love of choral singing,
and balance that love with a sense of fun. When I lived in Oklahoma
City, at a church about three or four blocks from the bombing site, I’d
walk down to the memorial to eat lunch. It’s a remarkable place, and it
causes you to think.
“That to me
is the role of the arts as well, to create moments of beauty like that,
spaces of quiet that bring us back to what’s important.”
December 9, 2009
Fiddler MacMaster back at Lebanon Opera House
performing with her full band — featuring guitar, piano, bass, drums and
percussion — or with a classical orchestra such as the Edinburgh
Symphony, MacMaster has thrilled audiences with her exciting fiddling
and dynamic stage persona.
has been able to create a signature sound that resonates through world
audiences, 10 albums, multiple gold record sales and 27 years of
experience. MacMaster has contributed her numerous talents to other
great artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Bela Fleck, Alison Krauss and Carlos
has preformed at many music festivals worldwide, including the Celtic
Colours festival in Cape Breton, Celtic Connections in Scotland, and
MerleFest in the United States. With so much talent under her belt, it’s
no wonder this toe-tapping fiddler is making waves with her new festive
tour, Christmas in Cape Brenton.
the musical members of her family, MacMaster began playing fiddle at the
age of 9 on an instrument given to her by a great-uncle. Soon MacMaster
was taking formal lessons along with her cousin, Ashley MacIsaac, with
whom she played often as a youngster.
did not wait for a record deal to release her first album. In 1989, when
she was only 16, she released “Four on the Floor’’ and a second album,
“Road to the Isle,’’ in 1991. Both of these self-produced albums were
initially released only on cassette, but Rounder Records combined and
re-released most of these tracks as a compilation in 1998.
expanded her following with her first release in the United States, “Fit
as a Fiddle,’’ which received a East Coast Music Award as Best
Roots/Traditional Album of 1992.
continued to expand upon her talents with the 1996 release of “No
Boundaries.’’ Hits from this album, such as “Drunken Piper,” solidified
MacMaster as one of the top musicians in Canada.
more successful albums MacMaster put out the progressive Celtic album
“Blueprint,’’ which featured a full drum kit, numerous co-arrangers and
session musicians. This album highlighted the versatility of MacMaster
and the skill in which she combines traditional Cape Breton sound with
other genes of music such as, jazz, bluegrass and folk.
extremely successful in the recording studios, it is really the stage
presence that MacMaster brings to her live performances that sets her
apart from other artists.
foot-tapping ballads and soulful waltzes while performing a bit of step
dancing as well as storytelling during her energetic live shows.
MacMaster plays with her own five-piece band on a rigorous headlining
schedule that includes between 100 and 150 shows yearly across Canada,
the United States and Europe. When not on tour, however, MacMaster can
be found playing her fiddle at local Cape Breton square dances and
“little concerts here and there.” In her Christmas show, MacMaster
invokes the holiday traditions of her native Cape Breton.
seats are $45, $35 and $25, with additional discounted tickets for
seniors and children. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or by
phone at 448-0400. Tickets can also be purchased online at
December 7, 2009
REVIEW: Spirited concert from MacMaster revs up Christmas
By Diana Nollen, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
MacMaster is the master of her realm. Everything she does onstage is
masterful, from her flawless fiddle playing to her fancy footwork and
her fun dialogue with her bandmates and audience. Nearly all 1,100 seats
were filled for her "Christmas in Cape Breton" concert presented by
Hancher on Saturday night at the Riverside Casino Event Center.
blessed by generations of musicians, she grew up steeped in the Scottish
traditions of Cape Breton Island in northern Nova Scotia.
taught her step-dancing at age 5, her father started her on violin at
age 9 and now she's known internationally as a fiddling phenom.
practically rises from her instrument as her fiery fingerwork and bowing
erupt from deep within her soul.
And yet her
concert began quietly, with the angelic voice of her 4-yearold daughter
speaking the lyrics to "What Child is This?" MacMaster then picked up
the mournful melody with solo violin, joined seamlessly by cello and
acoustic guitar. The mood changed instantly as piano and percussion
helped them crank up the heat with a Celtic kick that got my side of the
room clapping and stomping as MacMaster skipped across the festive
music that moves you, literally and figuratively. She's a perpetual
motion machine who throws her whole body into the action of the song and
lets out a whoop or two along the way. At her invitation, a few audience
members got up and danced to her jigs. She decks familiar Christmas
tunes with ornaments and flourishes, giving a light and lively feel to
"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," spinning "Christmas in
Killarney" into a jig and turning "Winter Wonderland" over to her
cellist, who gave it a bluesy feel. All of her band members are
accomplished musicians, but a special nod must go to her cellist,
15-year-old prodigy Nathaniel Smith of Brandon, Miss. He matches her in
style, fury and finesse and has a resume older performers would die for.
moments were worthy of mention, including a playful stepdance twist on
"Dancing Cheek to Cheek," featuring MacMaster and her Cape Breton
pianist, Mac Morin.
moment of the two-hour show, however, came when little Mary Frances
Leahy, who just turned 4, danced to her mother's music onstage. All
smiles in her red taffeta dress with a black velvet bodice, she gingerly
grabbed her mother's hem at first, then let loose with her step-dance
flair. When she realized everyone was looking at her, she covered her
eyes while her feet and her curls kept flying. And everyone's hearts
melted in a peppermint puddle.
got the chance to dance and clap on the encore of "God Rest Ye Merry
Gentlemen," leaving us all with tidings of comfort and joy, Cape Breton
practically rises from her instrument as her fiery fingerwork and bowing
erupt from deep within her soul.
November 22, 2009
Dolly had a dream
Nova Scotians appear in The Book Lady, a documentary about how Parton is
sharing her love of books with kids across North America
By ANDREA NEMETZ, Halifax Herald
may call her the Smoky Mountain Songbird or the Iron Butterfly, Dolly
Parton likes to call herself the Little Engine That Did.
dirt poor in the impoverished East Tennessee hills, the country
superstar was the fourth of 12 children of tobacco farmer Robert Lee and
Avie Lee Parton.
A lot of her
relatives didn’t have a chance to go to school and her own father had
problems reading and writing, but the seven-time Grammy Award-winner,
now 63, says she read anything she could get her hands on.
read the Bible and I always loved fairy tales," says Parton, calling
from Los Angeles, her honeyed Southern accent warming up a cold Nova
remember learning to read so I must have learned to read early. I didn’t
love school, but I love my books. That’s why I’m so happy to teach kids
to read. If you can read, you can self-educate."
the Country Music Hall of Famer for her sky-high platinum wigs,
flamboyant outfits and outsized cleavage as well as her distinctive
soprano. But to a new generation of children in the United States,
Canada and the United Kingdom, she is known as the Book Lady. Since
1996, her Imagination Library has been sending free, age-appropriate
hardcover books to children in participating communities from the time
they’re born until they’re five years old.
Lady, a short documentary airing at midnight tonight on CBC, chronicles
the launch of the Imagination Library in Canada and talks to families in
Waycobah about the program. In Nova Scotia, all 13 First Nations
by Halifax’s Brad Horvath and Natasha Ryan, the film that’s as sweet,
upbeat and heartfelt as Parton herself premiered at the 2008 Atlantic
Film Festival in Halifax.
interviews with teen queen Miley Cyrus, country superstar Keith Urban,
Canadian singer-songwriters Sarah Harmer and Justin Rutledge,
Troy-raised fiddling sensation Natalie MacMaster and beloved
children’s author Robert Munsch, as well as interviews with Parton and
some of her most beloved music including Jolene and Backwoods Barbie.
Lady, with cinematography by Tom Harting, was produced by Horvath,
directed by Ryan and executive produced by Thom Fitzgerald and Doug
received an honorary doctorate from the University of Tennessee earlier
this year, says she thinks the film is very well done.
sweet to be called the Book Lady. The project started 13 years ago in my
home town. . . . The governor of Tennessee liked it and took over the
program and then it spread all over Tennessee, all over the U.S., in
Canada and now here we are."
five million hardcover books were delivered in 2008.
book all children receive is The Little Engine That Could.
"It’s such a
builder of self-confidence, something all children can relate to — the
positive thinking, the idea that faith can move mountains. That book,
and my spiritual background, is the source of the confidence instilled
in me and it must have worked. I am the little engine that did.
most impressionable from the time they’re born to five years old. They
learn so many things then. It’s like giving them a head start getting
them interested in books, with their siblings and parents. They learn to
love books and the books come to them with their own little name on
them. I remember the first mail I got with my name on it," she says
fellow southerners John Grisham and Lee Smith as among her favourite
his short stories now. I love everything (Grisham’s) done, A Time to
Kill, The Client. . . . Lee Smith is one of my favourites. She writes
great Southern tales, though not as many as I’d like. I also read
religious books and bestsellers."
Globe-nominated for her acting debut in 1980’s Nine to Five, which
spawned the song of the same name and is among her best-known tunes,
Parton says she prefers books to movies and TV.
catch things accidentally before I go to bed, things like Forensic Files
and Cold Case Files."
But she did
make an appearance on American Idol in 2008 in which the nine remaining
contestants sang Parton songs.
quite an honour and I enjoyed working with Simon Cowell," she says of
her stint as guest mentor.
are coming up with their dreams and I felt guilty when people did songs
that didn’t go over so well. It was a great honour that they learned the
words to my songs."
been asked to be on the show before, she didn’t go.
"I had a new
record so it gave me a reason to be on the show rather than just showing
up," says the woman who has 41 career Top 10 country albums. She
released Backwoods Barbie that year and performed the single Jesus and
Gravity on the show.
consider another American Idol appearance, she wouldn’t want to star on
her own reality TV show.
"Oh my Lord,
I couldn’t let anyone know that much about me," she says with palpable
scare me to death. Everything you do is recorded. I’m very outgoing as
far as talking to people but when I go home, I don’t want people
following me. I’m a very private person."
will soon be able to see her story on both stage and screen. Parton is
writing her life story as a Broadway musical and separately as a movie.
"I may get
to do a cameo in the movie or I may narrate it, but I won’t be playing
myself in either, I know that much."
she wrote the score to 9 to 5: The Musical, staged in California and on
"It was a
new adventure. I really enjoyed it, though I was scared at first. It was
very different than writing songs. But there was freedom without having
to structure something for radio. You could take more time . . . (and)
write what the characters would want to say without worrying about time
restrictions. I found great freedom. I was writing for their
being thrown into the middle of a stage musical taught her a lot.
about it before 9 to 5 and now I think I’ve learned enough to go ahead."
meantime, fans can pick up Dolly: Live from London, a CD and DVD set
released this month on Dolly Records, which was filmed during her
sold-out 2008 concerts at London’s O2 Arena. It includes some of her
biggest hits like Here You Come Again, I Will Always Love You and the
heart-rending Coat of Many Colours.
"We were on
tour in Europe for five weeks and did the last two shows in London. It
was a wonderful show. With the DVD-CD, you feel you’re right there...
You can watch from behind the scenes, get insight into how we do the
no plans for a tour in support of the release, so catch her Sunday on
November 12, 2009
True Patriot Love Foundation raises over $2 million in support of
Minister and Premiers Unite in Support of Largest Fundraiser for
TORONTO -- Chair Shaun Francis tonight announced at the True
Patriot Love Foundation inaugural gala that the Foundation has raised
over $2 million in support of Canadian military families.
have most of our country's leaders assembled, but we are not here as
Conservative, Liberal, NDP or Green. We are here as fathers, mothers,
brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends, and most importantly as
citizens of this great country," said Francis.
This is the
largest fundraiser for military families in Canadian history and the
money raised will be donated to the Military Families Fund. The purpose
of the Fund is to quickly step in to assist military families faced with
unforeseen and often urgent needs that have resulted from conditions of
service, including rehabilitation after an injury, educational support
for children with special needs on remote bases, financial assistance in
the case of injury or death, and urgent and extraordinary financial
demands where the ability to provide family necessities is at risk.
"I am in awe
by the overwhelming support to the Canadian Forces and their families
shown here tonight," said Master Corporal Jody Mitic, who was recognized
by Prime Minister Harper. "Such outward visible support is a huge morale
boost to the troops."
guests attended the dinner at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre,
including military families (including Captain Trevor Green, and Master
Corporal Jody Mitic), The Right Honourable Prime Minister Harper, The
Honourable David C. Onley, Premier McGuinty, Right Honourable Paul
Martin, M.P. Michael Ignatieff, M.P. Jack Layton, Elizabeth May, Chief
William Blair, Chief Sharon Stinson Henry, Don Cherry and Sam Reid.
Natynczyk delivered the keynote address, General (Ret'd) Rick Hillier
was the Honourary Chair, and CTV's Lisa LaFlamme and the Honourable Bill
Davis were the Masters of Ceremony. Entertainment for the evening
included the Canadian Tenors, Leahy and Natalie MacMaster, Dennis
Leclair, Beverley Mahood and The Fern Hill School Choir. Telus was the
lead sponsor for the evening.
recognize the outstanding service to Canada by our men and women in
uniform. We appreciate the love, care and support by their families,"
said General Walt Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff. "And especially
in this week of remembrance, we celebrate our Veterans - those who
trained us, who showed us the way, who showed us what right looks like.
Those who went overseas and made the supreme sacrifice so that we could
live in peace."
do a tremendous job of recognizing the sacrifices made by our parents,
grandparents and greatgrandparents," said Francis. "But it's equally
important that Veterans Week includes recognizing the sacrifices that
our men and women in uniform and their families are making today. That
is the mission of the True Patriot Love Foundation."
Patriot Love Foundation, founded by corporate and community leaders, is
dedicated to raising funds for programs to improve the wellbeing of
members of the Canadian military and their families, and to celebrate
their selfless service. The Foundation strives to help meet the needs of
Canadian heroes serving at home and abroad, as well as the needs of the
families who support them.
information: Ms. Bronwen Evans, Director, True Patriot Love Foundation,
email@example.com, (416) 350-8374, (647)
448-8374 - cell
October 4, 2009
Hardly Strictly Festival
packs in a crowd for music fest
Aidin Vaziri, Chronicle
Pop Music Critic
few hundred people that made the effort to show up early Saturday to the
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 9 festival in Golden Gate Park were rewarded
Breaking in the new Towers of Gold Stage at the far end of Lindley
Meadow just before noon, Nashville guitarist Buddy Miller brought out a
couple of special guests - Emmylou Harris to sing devastating harmonies
on his song "Wide River to Cross" and Robert Plant to unleash his
leather lung wail on the Hank Snow standard "I'm Movin' On."
free festival, which closes its three-day run tonight with a headlining
set by Harris, drew record crowds for its ninth year despite fierce
winds and heavy traffic.
Organizers didn't have an exact number but enough people showed up to
force the closure of 19th Avenue, knock out AT&T cell phone service and
fill just about every available patch of grass, dirt and asphalt from
Speedway Meadow on west.
"There's more people than the park can hold," said one onsite police
Strictly booker Dawn Holliday, general manager of Slim's and the Great
American Music Hall, said they expected about 750,000 to attend over the
weekend. With more than 80 acts spread across six stages, there was
certainly more than enough going on to keep them all entertained.
Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder offered traditional bluegrass on the Banjo
Stage. Okkervil River did indie rock back at the Towers of Gold Stage.
Old school country outlaw Billy Joe Shaver impressed himself on the
Arrow Stage audience by declaring, "If you don't love Jesus, go to
felt like most of the attendees turned out to see comic actor Steve
Martin perform songs from his instrumental banjo album, "The Crow: New
Songs for the Five-String Banjo," along with the Steep Canyon Rangers.
his set he was greeted by fellow amateur banjoist Warren Hellman, the
billionaire investment banker who finances Hardly Strictly as a gift to
though Hellman's right arm was wrapped in a sling after a recent bout of
shingles, he still managed to make it through his bluegrass group the
Wronglers' traditional morning set and sit in with the Dry Branch Fire
Squad later in the day.
saying hello to Martin, he jumped into a waiting golf cart to be
transported to the next act on his personal schedule. "Have you seen
Natalie MacMaster?" Hellman said. "She can play that fast and dance
while she's doing it."
having the time of his life," Holliday said after Hellman sped off.
Watching the families basking in the sun, music fans racing from stage
to stage, and dogs lying on the grass, it was clear he wasn't the only
July 28, 2009
NAC/NCC Orchestras in the Park: the weather did not stop the music!
Capital Commission (NCC) and the National Arts Centre (NAC) thank the
18,700 concert-goers who made the third edition of Orchestras in the
Park a resounding success. The program of four free outdoor concerts in
LeBreton Flats Park, from July 23 to 26, came to a close yesterday
In spite of
weather forecasts that threatened rain all four nights, concert-goers
were rewarded with concerts that went ahead on time and in their
entirety under almost entirely rainfree skies.
from an unsolicited e-mail received this morning summarized what a lot
of concert-goers were saying about these four perfect concerts:
appreciated the concerts at LeBreton Flats Park. I can't imagine a
better way to give the general public an opportunity to hear music that
some might not be familiar with. It also provided an opportunity for
people who cannot afford to attend concerts at the NAC to hear good
music performed by world-class musicians. My wife and I enjoyed
Thursday, Friday and Sunday the most. My two granddaughters, however,
thought that Natalie MacMaster was wonderful (and she was). The setting
and ease of access to the site could not have been better.”
National Capital Commission and the National Arts Centre are proud of
the strong line-up of performers featured this year with the NAC
Orchestra and the Orchestre de la francophonie canadienne: Anton Kuerti,
Julian Kuerti, Amy Horvey, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, Erin Wall, Antonio
Figueroa, James Westman, Laurence Ewashko, Jean-Philippe Tremblay, Hong
Xu and of course, Natalie MacMaster.
in the Park is a collaboration between the NAC and the NCC to present a
series of free outdoor orchestral concerts at LeBreton Flats Park, the
biggest gathering site for cultural events in the Capital.
July 24, 2009
Rollo Bay: rooted as strongly as ever
By TODD MACLEAN, The Guardian, Charlottetown, PEI
There was a
strong sense of spirit soaring about this year's Rollo Bay Fiddle
Festival. Like a tree that's tapped into a newfound water source, all
limbs of the festival were just teeming with life, especially as
compared to recent years, where this tree has seemed not as flourishing
as it once was in its early years.
say that this had only to do with the presence of this year's star
headliner, Natalie MacMaster. But, taking in the festival last Sunday
afternoon, it was clear that there was some other magic stirring about
in the air.
As many a
tribute was played to the legendary Cape Breton fiddler, Jerry Holland,
who passed away just last week, and as so many were cognizant of the
fact that this is the first festival without the presence of the great
Bennett Campbell, festival orchestrator and adored emcee) who died just
last fall, there was certainly a good deal of praise and spiritual
recognition going on.
can't help but think that somehow the spirit of Campbell, in particular,
may have been shining through it all. Amid the incredible success of
this year's show, the amazing music and the happy times shared, it is
certain that Rollo Bay's main enthusiast through the years was smiling
down upon it all last weekend with pride. Sunday's afternoon of music
began in appropriate Chaisson style at 2 p.m. with a set by Tim, Kevin
and Peter Chaisson, as the sun poured down bright and hot on the
festival grounds, not a cloud in sight.
fiddler Mike Hall then got up and performed a moving tribute to
colleague Jerry Holland, followed by sets by Courtney Hogan, the Queens
County Fiddlers, Fiddlers' Sons, Anastasia DesRoches, J.J. and Tim
Chaisson and Kimberley
Fraser and The Judy MacLean Dancers (with Madison Birt and Vanessa
sun-glassed crowd spread across the grounds squinted on in anticipation,
as the moment many were waiting for was then at hand: master of
ceremonies Marlene MacDonald introduced festival headliner, Natalie
MacMaster. An immediate standing ovation welcomed her, as she entered
with a grin.
are pretty sweet gettin' up like that. Thanks very much," she said as
she sat down to begin. "It truly is a privilege to be back here. I'm
gonna' start off with a couple of jigs."
signature smoothness and control that's recognizable right from her
first phrase, MacMaster paraded through those first jigs with ease, and
the audience savoured it all many of them crowding around to the front
of the stage to be as close as possible. MacMaster's performance only
lasted five sets and 20 minutes, but in that time she left as powerful
of an impression as one could expect, right to her finale, as The Reel
of Tulloch's jaw dropping precision, speed and soul ignited everyone to
their feet. An encore then brought with it more awesomeness, as she and
Island guitarist Elmer Deagle (who really must be cited as the man
behind bringing MacMaster to the festival) and pianist Mac Morin just
rocked the place one last time. After Natalie escaped from the stage
with a smiling wave as her second standing ovation was erupting before
her, she was then flocked by a herd of supporters and fans at the
among these was 11-year-old fiddling sensation from Stratford, Fiona
MacCorquodale, who shook the place on Friday night during her solo at
the youth concert so much that famed Cape Breton fiddler Chrissy
Crowley coined her as "the next Natalie MacMaster."
It was all
too fitting: the up and coming youth fiddler, posing with her idol, the
star fiddler who played on this same stage at that same age.
with the fact that MacCorquodale is at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's,
Cape Breton, this week, a trip awarded to her with this year's Queens
County Fiddlers Youth Scholarship, and is learning from the man who
taught MacMaster, Stan Chapman and it becomes even more fitting.
afternoon rounded out with The Cape Breton Fiddlers' tribute to Jerry
Holland (that also featured MacMaster, before she had to literally run
across the grounds to catch her flight back to Ontario) and great
performances by Richard
Wood, Colette Cheverie and a host of others, enjoyed by the huge turnout
of an audience.
(Chaisson) said this crowd is maybe a little better than the crowds they
used to have in the old days," said Island fiddler Ward MacDonald that
afternoon. "And you gotta' remember, that's 33 years ago before there
were ceilidhs dotting the Island all the time. When they started this,
it was the first thing of its type."
So to get
this kind of crowd in this day, when there are virtually hundreds of
fiddle concerts that go on every summer, is certainly a feat.
that the good fortune MacMaster brought with her this summer continues
from here on for the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival and we'll see this tree
still flourishing strongly in another three decades.
June 29, 2009
Natalie MacMaster to perform at Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival, July 19
By Carolyn Drake , The Guardian
fiddling sensation Natalie MacMaster will be performing at the 33rd
annual Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival, set for July 17-19.
“I was so
overwhelmed by the news. I’m still reeling from it,” said Peter
Chaisson, a well-known Island fiddler and one of the organizers of the
event. “She is a world-renowned performer. It certainly is going to be a
big boost to Eastern Kings.”
has played a couple of times in Rollo Bay over the years, including one
of her first public performances when she was about 10 years old. That
early musical promise has been more than fulfilled as she went on to
develop a signature Celtic sound that has resonated with audiences
around the world through 10 albums, multiple gold sales and numerous
Juno and East Coast Music Awards.
to return to Rollo Bay this year came about thanks to a talented Prince
Edward Island Celtic musician who has been performing on tour with
MacMaster this spring.
Deagle mentioned to me that he should ask Natalie if she wanted to come
to play at the fiddle festival,” said Chaisson. “I never really thought
it would happen, but he got talking to her about it the last time they
played in Santa Monica, California.”
who is scheduled to perform at the afternoon concert on Sunday, July 19,
was more than happy to oblige once she realized she was available on
“Elmer is such a sweet guy,” she said earlier this week in a phone
interview from her home in Ontario. “And (my family) has always had a
lot respect for the Chaisson family. They were ‘it’ for us on P.E.I. as
far as the fiddle music goes and they still are.”
Returning to the Island also brings back some wonderful memories of
family summer vacations to MacMaster, who is now the mother of three
going to P.E.I. was always a big deal. We went every year — that was our
vacation spot. We’d do Rainbow Valley and go to the beaches. I can
almost smell it right now, that’s the impact P.E.I. has on me. It is
such a good, good memory. It was always excitement in itself.”
who enjoys the atmosphere of a big outdoor fiddle festival, said the
Rollo Bay event is the real thing.
“What I like
about the festival is that it is structured so locally with so many
talented local musicians. It is very authentic. And now that I’m older
and can analyze things, I do recognize that the festival has a longevity
and authenticity, and that is so important in this day and age.”
also likes the idea of performing for people who truly appreciate Celtic
“It always excites me when I’m playing in front of true blue fans who
know the music.
“In Rollo Bay, it will be people listening to their own music, and they
get it, they understand it. So, though I haven’t quite decided exactly
what I will be playing, there will be a lot of old stuff for sure.
“I do want
it to be really traditional and back to the roots,” says MacMaster, who
expects to play for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, accompanied by
Deagle and piano player Mac Morin from Cape Breton.
joins a Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival lineup of talented fiddlers,
accompanists and singers throughout the weekend, said Chaisson, adding
they come from across Prince Edward Island and various parts of the
confirmed for a great weekend of music are Kimberley Fraser, Andrea
Beaton, the Queens County Fiddlers, the Cape Breton Fiddlers, Richard
Wood, Chrissy Crowley, Ward MacDonald, Peter, Kenny and Kevin Chaisson,
Cynthia MacLeod, Timothy Chaisson, J.J. Chaisson, Elmer Deagle, Alan
MacDonald, Francis MacCormack, Lemmy Chaisson, Urban MacAdam, Donna
Marie Peters, Chad Mooney and Mike Hall.
“Natalie’s a celebrity in Celtic music, and I think she is admired
throughout North America,” said Chaisson. “She brings all kinds of
beautiful sound to the stage, and there’s nothing more beautiful than
the sound of the fiddle as far as I’m concerned.”
May 17, 2009
McMaster brings Cape Breton to Albany
Michael Hochanadel - Daily Gazette, Schenectady, NY
ALBANY — You
didn’t have to know a jig from a reel or a strathspey from a waltz to
enjoy Natalie McMaster’s music at The Egg on Saturday. Shielding her
eyes to survey the near-capacity crowd and ask about hometowns, she
found “enough [fellow Cape Breton Islanders] for a square [dance] set.”
world-class talent and small-town charm, McMaster has long mastered the
intimate art of invitation, of taking audiences to the traditional music
of mind and heart she carries with her. She fiddles up a big blur of
notes while also dancing, with microphones on the stage surface to
capture the music of her flying feet. She and her three players (a “more
trad” band, she said, than in past local shows, featuring bagpipes,
drums and bass) medleyed jigs and reels to start, sketching the
blueprint for their nearly two-hour show.
Island may be a small place, but McMaster’s music, based in its
Scotch-Irish traditions, felt big because of the energy she gave it. She
also reached beyond tradition without compromising her cozy feel. Her
(15-year-old!) cellist, Nathaniel Smith, led the band into McMaster’s
own “Christmas Jig,” ably filling in for Yo-Yo Ma, who played on the
recording, but it was McMaster herself, as usual, who flowed the song
into a venerable and similarly happy Irish tune. No one sang in the
show, but many songs told tales. The Norwegian “Josephine’s Waltz” that
followed the “Christmas Jig” medley evoked a lover’s loss and then a
survivor’s pride. And in her short string solo in the second set,
McMaster told how a Scottish tune so ancient that it has lost its name
echoed for her the melancholy of Scottish settlers arriving with hopes
and fears in Nova Scotia.
were few as the band rejoined McMaster for the lively “Jean’s Reel.” For
all her charisma and energy, she shared the spotlight well. Pianist Mac
Morin, phrasing like George Winston in a Celtic mood, revved from a
folkish style into something like Irish Harlem stride. McMaster said
Cape Breton fiddlers use piano accompaniment, and to demonstrate and
explode traditional duet technique, McMaster sat alongside Morin to
improvise from tradition to spontaneous inspiration.
set started closer to home but wandered both into ensemble surprises — a
polka among the reels — and solos. Smith bebopped through “What a
Wonderful World,” and self-effacing guitarist-banjoist-mandola player
Elmer Deagle led the band through swift-flowing reels.
enjoyed and made good use of her band, but she could probably have held
the audience on her own. . The mother of three (the youngest was born in
February), wife of a fiddler and proprietor of a cattle ranch, she
displayed enough energy for about five people and looked utterly
glamorous and musically commanding.
April 17, 2009
Home-Cooked Symphony Concert
Live music Archive
A hand shot
up out of the audience and waved emphatically, attempting to catch the
celebrity’s attention. The spotlit fiddler peered out into the darkness
and candidly asked, “Do I know you? Am I related to you?”
room burst into laughter and I felt like I was right there with Natalie
MacMaster in her kitchen enjoying a homespun “ceilidh,” (pronounced “kay-lee”)
Celtic dance. This “kitchen” had a world-famous celebrity, a top-notch
symphony orchestra and over 450 paying guests at $40 each, but that’s
beside the point. It was still Natalie’s kitchen.
She went on
to tune her violin patiently, though hundreds of eyes watched anxiously.
Perhaps she sensed the urgency when she joked that her tuning was,
“Close enough for Celtic,” and the room chuckled again. Then this sweet,
down-to-earth gal from
Island picked up her fiddle and the “kitchen” went up in flames! There
wasn’t a foot within earshot that could resist tapping to her phenomenal
playing and dancing. Earshot, but not eyeshot. Unfortunately, most of
the audience could only see the virtuoso from the waist-up due to the
level seating arrangement of the hall. Natalie’s legendary clicks and
clacks of tap shoes on the hollow stage stirred me to leave my seat and
watch the entire concert from the side aisle. Soon after standing, I ran
back to my aisle to fetch my young violin students, who were too short
to catch the fancy footwork from their seats.
Celtic tradition, our quiet observation from the sidelines grew into
louder foot stomping, which rapidly escalated into energetic circle
dancing and jigs. Natalie’s own dancing featured high kicks, quick spins
and rhythmic tap dancing. As the show progressed, her traditional
Scottish step dancing morphed into groovy modern hip-hop and disco
moves, including the notorious and difficult “Moonwalk!”
Much to my
surprise and delight, the music also went through a breathtaking
metamorphosis. The concert started with traditional Celtic melodies
played by the silky string sections of the symphony. Next was a Cape
Breton fiddle tune in A major, what Natalie called the “Canadian key.”
traditional pieces, we learned that she was more multifaceted than
imaginable. From a Latin mix to the gorgeous jazz ballad, “Autumn
Leaves,” we were all captivated by her versatility. Concertmaster of the
Okanagan Symphony, Denis Letourneau, was as mesmerized as the audience
was! The classical virtuoso beamed from ear to ear and repeatedly shook
his head in awe and admiration of Natalie’s fiddling fireworks. Then he
contributed to the pyrotechnics when he joined Natalie for a musical
goulash where “fiddling met violining.” Their duet blended the popular
fiddle tune “Devil’s Dream” with the intricate Bach Violin Partida in E!
“Denis, we have an expression back in Cape Breton,” said Natalie
afterwards, “When we really dig in, we say we were ‘driving ‘er.’ Now
you can go home and say last night you were really ‘driving ‘er!” Denis
blushed. Natalie smiled. We all felt two worlds converge and it felt
cultures blend, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more “Traditional fusion”
in music. Diverse forms of music, polar as they may seem now, will soon
merge and create new genres that people of all ages and walks of life
can appreciate. Put a symphony orchestra, a fiddler, a funk band and a
bagpiper playing on stage at the same time and everyone from Grandma to
the teenager with the spiked hair will approve.
be growing pains, naturally. As in Natalie’s concert, there will be an
obvious polarity in the audience in deciding proper concert protocol.
Some people at the concert didn’t know whether get up and dance in the
aisles, or to be content in sitting in quiet appreciation. Like any
pioneers, we’ll find a middle ground that works for everyone. Heck, a
friend of mine once created “seated dancing” in such an awkward
charm and talent, coupled with her obvious love of music, were enough to
inspire me and several other violinists present to explore new avenues
of expression and technique. I couldn’t wait to get home to try some of
the things she showed us so flawlessly that night.
provided further inspiration when she agreed to sign fiddles my students
had brought with them. Then she stood, weary and tired, but smiling
enthusiastically for group photographs with me and my fiddle students.
My students, young and old, talked about Natalie’s concert for weeks and
have found a role model who will guide them into wonderful new
Natalie. You are one amazing Canadian pioneer and we love you for it!
** Rhiannon Schmitt (nee
Nachbaur) is a professional violinist and music teacher who has enjoyed
creative writing for years. She currently writes columns for two
Canadian publications and has been featured in Australia’s “Music
Teacher Magazine.” Writing allows her to teach people that the world of
music is as fun as you spin it to be! Rhiannon, age 29, has worn the
hats of businesswoman, performer, events promoter, classical music radio
host and school orchestra music arranger in rural British Columbia,
MacMaster and her musical partner Donnell Leahy talk to TED and play
several tunes from the Cape Breton tradition -- a sprightly, soulful
style of folk fiddling. It's an inspired collaboration that will have
you clapping (and maybe dancing) along.
(Click image below to watch video. Will open in a new window)
A few photos
of the new MacMaster/Leahy addition... Clare Marie!
(Click photos for
March 20, 2009
Four weeks after giving birth, Canadian fiddler performs with Grand
by Jeff Kaczmarczyk, The Grand Rapids Press
Natalie MacMaster delivered an evening of reels, jigs and strathspeys
with associate conductor John Varineau and the Grand Rapids Symphony.
-- You wouldn't know if someone didn't tell you. Just four weeks ago,
fiddler Natalie MacMaster gave birth to her third child, Clare.
know to see her step out on stage on Friday, looking svelte in a
close-fitting outfit. You certainly wouldn't know it to watch her kick
up her heels with a little -- all right, more than a little -- Irish
MacMaster told the audience Friday night in DeVos Performance Hall that
she had to nurse her newborn during intermission, well, that gave that
away. An audience of 1,355 gave her a generous round of applause for
that alone when MacMaster joined the Grand Rapids Symphony for its Pops
Series in DeVos Hall.
of Celtic-flavor music comes just days after St. Patrick's Day. With a
Scots musician named MacMaster on stage, we really should be celebrating
St. Andrew's Day. But the feast day of Scotland's patron saint falls on
Nov. 30, and we really don't want to go through all that again.
fiddling was just what the doctor ordered for the first day of spring.
Sunny, snappy music all around, with more fiddle tunes than you could
count on all your fingers and toes.
entertained in a relaxed, let's-have-a-house-party style, both with the
orchestra or alone with only her pianist, Mac Morin, who she referred to
as her "neighbor from Troy," a community in Nova Scotia.
they tore up the stage with a set of tunes they call their "Tullochgorum
Set," Morin accompanying with a Celtic, boogie-woogie stride piano style
and MacMaster sawing up a storm, seated in a chair, and tap dancing with
both feet. Toward the end, Grand Rapids Symphony's principal
percussionist Bill Vits stepped up to play his wooden sticks, known as
rhythm bones. With a full orchestra behind her, MacMaster played a
lovely version of "O'Carolan's Concerto," a piece by the legendary Irish
composer Turlough O'Carolan.
she played her most requested tune, the enchanting, "If Ever You Were
Mine," from her 1993 album, "Fit as a Fiddle."
star of the show was Grand Rapids Symphony concertmaster James Crawford,
who joined MacMaster for fiddle and violin duets. Think of a comedian
working with a straight man, a little like Gracie Allen and George
Burns, and you get the idea of them trading licks with J.S. Bach's
Violin Partita No. 5 and the traditional tune "Devil's Dream."
the orchestra did not coast through the evening. They opened the first
half with Sean O' Boyle's "Baile Chruiach," an extravaganza of
Celtic-flavored music with antiphonal brass and unusual percussion.
Varineau worked in a little more traditional fare with Percy Grainger's
deep-voiced arrangement of "Irish Tune from County Derry" -- better
known as "Danny Boy."
Herbert's "Irish Rhapsody," with tunes such as "Believe Me, If All Those
Endearing Young Charms," had a lush, post-romantic flavor to it.
MacMaster asked if anyone in the audience was from Cape Breton. When no
one replied, she said, "You never know."
for a couple of hours, everyone was a visitor, at least, to the lovely
island in Atlantic Canada.
March 20, 2009
Natalie MacMaster’s artistry continues to captivate
By Garaud MacTaggart
The joy of performing is
readily apparent in Natalie MacMaster’s face as she delights the crowd
Wednesday night at the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts.
Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News
three weeks ago, Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster gave birth to her
third child, a new baby girl.
night, she was step dancing, complete with flashing heels, tapping toes
and pumping arms, up on the Center for the Arts stage on the North
Campus of the University at Buffalo.
hadn’t announced it early on in her performance, most folks in the
audience probably wouldn’t have known of her recent delivery. People
would have just chalked up her energetic show as perfectly normal for
her, especially if they had seen MacMaster on earlier concert tours. But
then again, some may remember how demonstrably pregnant she was while
hoofing it on-stage when performing in Buffalo a few years ago and not
been surprised at her current antics.
aside, MacMaster’s fan base is loyal because she is a consummate
musician and entertainer. Her fiddle artistry has all the traditional
hallmarks of the Cape Breton style of playing, a genre with deep roots
in the island’s overwhelming Scottish heritage, but MacMaster has always
ridden on the edge of that tradition, adapting it to play to a larger
night was a little different. For one thing, she was traveling with a
slightly smaller ensemble than what she has used in the past. Eschewing
her usual touring drummer and bass player, the fiddler embraced a more
cellist Nathaniel Smith, her longtime keyboard player Mac Morin and
multi-instrumentalist Matt MacIsaacs, MacMaster sought to bring to the
stage the feeling of a Cape Breton dance hall, a place where the
community gathers to hear music and move to time-honored rhythms. There
was even a screen serving as a backdrop to the musicians and upon which
video clips of Cape Breton life were shown.
played and danced, bow and feet moving in tandem, the jigs, reels and
waltzes flowed from the ensemble with deceptive ease. All of the
musicians were top-notch. You could point to Morin’s spotlight moment
where Mc- Master dropped out and the pianist was supported by cello and
was the sterling duet between Smith’s energetic, almost rock-and-roll,
cello playing and MacMaster’s dual artistry of fiddle and feet and
Mac-Isaacs’ fluid movement between guitar, flute, and banjo and, most
impressively, the highland pipes.
result was a concert where the musicians took the audience to a
And when you get right down to it, isn’t that why folks go to concerts
in the first place?
March 18, 2009
Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster to perform with Grand Rapids Symphony
by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk | The Grand Rapids Press
-- Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster, who will perform with the Grand
Rapids Symphony in Grand Rapids, has garnered a Grammy Award nomination,
a Juno Award, a couple of Top 20 albums on Billboard's World Music
Charts and four gold-selling CDs in her native Canada.
MacMaster will perform with the Grand Rapids Symphony in Grand Rapids.
biggest project of 2009 was giving birth to her third child. Daughter
Clare Marie came into the world on Feb. 18, and little more than a month
later, mom Natalie MacMaster will be step dancing across the stage of
DeVos Performance Hall.
three-concert appearance this weekend with the Grand Rapids Symphony's
Pops Series isn't even her first outing since giving birth.
were booked before anyone knew I was pregnant," MacMaster said.
36, will join associate conductor John Varineau and the orchestra for an
evening of jigs, ballads and contemporary tunes in the Cape Breton-style
fiddling, which Scottish immigrants brought with them to Atlantic
evolution has occurred and will continue to occur," she said. "But I'm
told that the music of Cape Breton is the most authentic of Scottish
of Nova Scotia grew up in a family of musicians, including her uncle,
Buddy MacMaster, a legend among fiddlers.
MacMaster began fiddling before her 10th birthday.
"I got it
through the blood and the environment and the upbringing," she said. "It
was a very natural thing, almost like learning to talk."
career, now entering its third decade, rode the wave of a Celtic fad
that spawned such shows as "RiverDance."
recorded her first album, "Four On The Floor" at age 16.
"That was a
great time to be establishing your fan base and your sound and your
brand," she said. "People were hungry for it back then. It was fresh and
new, even though it's a very old music."
has worked with musicians ranging from operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti
to guitarist Carlos Santana as well as fellow fiddlers Alison Krauss and
point, she was doing 250 shows a year, but she's cut back to 50 shows in
"I did 80
last year, and a hundred before that," she said. "But then the kids came
married fiddler Donnell Leahy of the band Leahy in 2002. Their careers
often take them in different directions, so MacMaster will have kids in
tow when she's in Grand Rapids this weekend.
ago, she was playing with her elder daughter and did a little step
for the first time," she recalled. "Oooh, that didn't feel good."
going to give it a shot when she joins the orchestra this weekend.
"I can't not
move, that's for sure," she said. "I'll dance. I say that confidently,
March 18, 2009
VisionTV Streams Faith Broadcast Online Featuring performance by Natalie
faith network VisionTV will stream its annual National Catholic Mission
broadcast online. The National Catholic Mission 2009 broadcast on
VisionTV is a two-part faith special that will offer reflections for the
Lenten season, programmers describe.
the first time VisionTV is streaming the event, although the specialty
service did launch a video streaming service VisionTV on Demand in 2007.
VisionTV on Demand offers hours of program previews, exclusive clips and
original content, all available for streaming free of charge. VisionTV's
audience can also follow the station's activities on Twitter.
the National Catholic Broadcasting Council, the annual National Catholic
Mission invites Catholic Church members across Canada to rekindle their
faith and seek new direction for their lives.
broadcast will include presentations by prominent Catholic clergy and
educators, along with musical performances by fiddler Natalie MacMaster,
singer Michael Burgess and singer/actress Arlene Duncan (Little Mosque
on the Prairie).
proud to continue our longstanding partnership with the National
Catholic Broadcasting Council -- and most especially pleased to
introduce online streaming of the National Catholic Mission, giving more
Canadians than ever the opportunity to experience this annual event,"
Mark Prasuhn, Chief Content Officer for VisionTV, said in a release.
March 3, 2009
Natalie MacMaster in Portland
Sun Journal, Portland
Over the last decade, fiddler extraordinaire Natalie MacMaster has gone
from the dance halls and traditional Scots-Irish music ceilidhs of her
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to critical acclaim on folk, world and pop
music stages around the globe.
March 17, MacMaster and her band will return to Merrill Auditorium for a
rollicking Saint Patrick's Day celebration featuring high-energy Celtic
music and step dancing. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Maine and PCA Great Performances favorite, MacMaster has taken the
traditional sounds of her homeland in new directions while always
staying true to the music's deep-seated Celtic roots.
concert is part kitchen party, part traditional music and storytelling
session (ceilidh) and part high-stepping dance hall charm. She and her
band explore her cultural roots, tinged with bluegrass, pop and jazz.
MacMaster's bandmates are Mac Morin, piano and step dance; Matt
MacIsaac, pipes, whistles and banjo; J.D. Blair, drums; and Nathaniel
The niece of
legendary Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster, Natalie first picked up
the fiddle at age 9. She quickly became a lauded talent in her own
right, earning numerous awards for her early traditional recordings.
Branching out from her roots to embrace country, pop, and global
influences, she quickly won kudos on the Celtic and world music
circuits, picking up honors for Best Female Artist and Best
Roots/Traditional Recording from Canada's East Coast Music Awards along
the way. In July 2006, MacMaster became one of the youngest people ever
named a member of the prestigious Order of Canada, Canada's highest
live performances are renowned for their energy and rhythmic intensity.
She has shared stages with Santana, The Chieftains, Paul Simon, Faith
Hill, Don Henley, Luciano Pavarotti and numerous symphony orchestras.
Offstage, the education and community outreach arm of PCA Great
Performances, will present a free preperformance lecture prior to the
concert featuring Lewis MacKinnon, head of Nova Scotia's Office of
Gaelic Affairs. An informal talk, he will discuss the origins and extent
of Gaelic culture in Nova Scotia and share insights into Gaelic music,
stories, humor and song. The lecture will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. in
the Merrill Auditorium rehearsal hall.
concert is part of PCA Great Performances' 2008-09 Traverser La
Frontière series featuring performances focused on Canadian artists in
children's theater, dance and music and their connections with Maine.
2009: It's a Girl!
Congratulations to Natalie and Donnell on the birth of their new baby
Clare Marie, born on February 18th!
February 9, 2009
14 Leahys, 14 fiddles: Leahy
family benefit shows at Showplace
raise $50,000 for Lakefield clinic project
By NICOLE RIVA, EXAMINER CITY EDITOR
"amazing and tremendous show" will bring in roughly $50,000 for the
Lakefield Primary Health Care campaign, the campaign chairman said
yesterday. Bruce Gibson said the two sold-out shows Thursday and last
night by Leahy at Showplace have made a big impact on the campaign's
certainly maintains the momentum of our campaign," Gibson said.
part of the fundraising drive for the Lakefield Primary Healthcare
Centre, Gibson said members of the Lakefield-based Leahy family and band
were approached about participating.
they were made aware of what we were doing, they were very eager," he
said. "We're building a medical centre for a family health team and we
couldn't do better than a family like Leahy to support us."
the proceeds from the concerts go to the campaign, which Gibson said
will be about $50,000.
was an amazing, tremendous show," Gibson said of Thursday night's
performance. "It's hard to believe one family has that much talent,"
Gibson said. "They had three generations on stage at one point last
campaign also received a $25,000 donation from Scotiabank at Thursday's
show. After last night's concert, Gibson said the fundraising total will
be roughly $4.1 million. The goal is $4.4 million.
certainly shows the support all across the community," he said.
Donnell Leahy told The Examiner the family wanted to contribute to their
all have ways we can help and this is one way we can," he said. "So many
people in this community step up and support their own. And we wanted to
be a part of that."
care is one thing Leahy said always makes the family happy to be home
and proud to be Canadian.
having a little one every day in this family," he laughed. There are
eight siblings in the group, several with children.
Leahy's wife, fiddler Natalie MacMaster, is pregnant with their third
child and due Feb. 10. Helping support the campaign is another way the
Leahys want to stay connected to the community, he said.
plan on living here forever."
much as the family tours and performs, Leahy said it's always different
playing at home.
one thing, he said, it's very different to look over the crowd and
recognize a lot of faces. The other thing is you definitely want the
hometown show to be special. To add that special touch, the Leahys
brought more of the family on stage. Some of the siblings' children and
their parents as well as MacMaster became part of the performance.
were 15 fiddles on stage (Thursday night)," Leahy said. "We've never had
that many before."
Another 14 fiddles were on stage last night. The impact of the
fiddle-packed stage wasn't lost on Leahy.
have our parents there ... it all started with them. It certainly makes
this one to remember. It completed the whole show."