spent Monday night in a packed hall at St. Johnsbury Academy hearing
Natalie MacMaster’s“Christmas in Cape Breton” concert, the last stop on
her holiday tour. I was there for a piece on the St. Johnsbury arts
scene, which you should be able to find in the Burlington Free Press in
renowned Canadian fiddler put us all in the Christmas spirit with her
music and also dropped a mini-bombshell at the end of the night: She and
her husband, Donnell Leahy of the Celtic family band that goes by his
surname, are expecting their fifth (!) child. She couldn’t wait to tell
us, but she swore the crowd to secrecy, because she was announcing the
impending birth to her mother via Christmas card that hadn’t arrived yet
in Cape Breton, in which she signed the card with her name, Donnell’s,
the four children and “baby #5.” Because her mother voraciously reads
everything about Natalie online, she asked the crowd not to post
anything about her news until Wednesday at the earliest, when the card
might be due to arrive (and here I am waiting until Friday, in case the
Canadian post office is especially slow at this time of year). Knowing
her reputation for bouncing right back (literally, given her impressive
step-dancing abilities) post-childbirth, the traditional-music dynamo
will no doubt be back on stage in a few short weeks after having child
December 15, 2011
Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster plays up a storm
at holiday concert
Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer - Cleveland, OH
holidays with family and friends is not only a domestic pleasure for
Natalie MacMaster, the ebullient and (mac)masterful Cape Breton fiddler.
It's also a professional joy, as she revealed in concert Wednesday at
the Cleveland Museum of Art on the Viva! & Gala Performing Arts series.
program, "Christmas in Cape Breton," MacMaster shared the stage with an
exceptional quartet of instrumental colleagues, who helped her whoop
things up in all sorts of tunes with roots Scottish and otherwise.
MacMaster, as congenial, funny and irresistible a host as you're likely
to find on a concert stage, had much more in her artistic arsenal. Along
with recordings of her eldest daughter reciting lyrics and her mother
telling holiday tales, she wore her Proud Mom badge gleefully when three
of her four children showed up to fiddle or step dance.
Mary Frances Rose Leahy played a piece (very nicely) before tripping the
light fantastic. She was followed in the dance sphere by four-year-old
Michael Joseph Alexander and two-year-old Clare Marie. Only 11-month-old
Julia Elizabeth didn't make an appearance (she was backstage, possibly
taking a nap).
would have driven W.C. Fields even crazier after intermission, when the
responsive charges of the Cleveland School of the Arts Choir, led by
Dianna White-Gould, arrived to sing three holiday tunes and give
MacMaster big hugs. The choristers sang beautifully and sizzled in a hip
version of "Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
youthful interludes made up a fraction of the program, a generous
helping of jigs, reels, carols, waltzes and ensemble explosions that
largely centered on MacMaster's virtuosic fiddling and exuberant step
dancing. She didn't appear to take a breath during the opening medley, a
succession of affecting and earthy pieces she played in perpetual
MacMaster at the helm, a dizzying number of notes – as well as her curly
blond hair – flew through the air. She has the rare ability to take a
tune, tweak the melody with ornaments and send the music soaring. Even
when the mood turns reflective, as in a lovely Norwegian selection,
"Josephine's Waltz," MacMaster applies shimmering expressivity to the
touring with a sterling group of peers. Throughout Wednesday's concert,
MacMaster teamed closely with pianist Mac Morin (also a winning step
dancer), cellist Nathaniel Smith, electric bass player Shane Hendrickson
and drummer JD Blair, while also giving them their own moments to shine.
November 25, 2011
MacMaster Returns to her Cape Breton roots
Barber, Whig Standard (Kingston, ON)
such as Jimmy MacKinnon of Smelt Brook, Butcher's Jig Set and Stumpie,
you can tell Canadian fiddle sensation Natalie MacMaster's latest CD
isn't going to have a lot of covers of Jay-Z or interpretations of ABBA
most traditional recording of her nearly two-decade career, Cape Breton
Girl, pretty much says it all — it's an exploration of the music that
inspired and shaped the life of the talented violin player and
step-dancer, and countless generations of residents of the remote Nova
Nov. 1, it contains 12 songs — more compilations of like-sounding tunes
— and encapsulates the unique variety of Cape Breton stylings, as
interpreted through traditional Celtic jigs and reels.
In a sense,
it's sort of a thank-you card to the musical influences of her youth,
including her own uncle, the legendary 87-year-old Cape Breton fiddle
master, Buddy MacMaster.
definitely made for the hardcore Cape Breton fiddle fan," MacMaster
said. "I think of the people who go to the square dances and they just
love the music the way it is, without any bells and whistles, just
straight-ahead traditional stuff.
what moved me the most at home listening to music growing up. There's a
real deep meaning, and a genuine love for that music for me. I love
listening to it, and I love playing it, and because of this music, I
have met so many great musicians along the way.
depth beyond that when I go to play the traditional stuff. I just want
to satisfy those people who just love the Cape Breton music. And in
doing that, you have to stay within the confines of the traditions. Not
that it is difficult, but it is an obvious choice. In one way it's
easier to do that because it's all spelled out for you. But in another
way, it's more refined, and you have to be really specific. On this
album, there are medleys of tunes that I want to be carefully crafted. I
don't just go with the flow, it's all very deliberate."
to create the album began about three years ago, two years after her
previous album, the more contemporary Yours Truly, was released.
And most of
the recording was done two years ago, but MacMaster said she didn't feel
rushed to put out a new record.
came on the heels of the birth of the first child to MacMaster and her
husband, the equally talented fiddler Donnell Leahy, from the Lakefield,
Ont.-based family band, simply called Leahy.
was born in 2005, and three more kids have followed for the prodigious
couple (Leahy is one of 11 siblings): Michael was born in 2007, Clare in
Feb. 2009, and Julia in January of this year.
been a busy time," MacMaster said. "Someone just the other day mentioned
that it had been five years since I put out a record, and I went, 'no,
you're kidding.' But I guess it's true. There's no rush. Life has been
busy, and family is of the utmost importance to me. It's my priority, so
I fit this in when I can.
maintained my career, but I am certainly not making any great efforts to
expand and grow and move beyond where I am, at this point.
like to be gone, or preoccupied too much. I am always looking for the
right balance, and sometimes it's overwhelming, and sometimes it's
totally manageable and it's like, 'hey, bring it on!' It just depends,
because with four kids, things change minute to minute."
and her husband do play some shows together, but both realize they have
to focus on their primary acts: Leahy and Natalie MacMaster.
"I have had
people who have been to 10 or 15 of my concerts and see the Donnell and
Natalie show and say it's the best one. My parents, who have seen so
many versions of Natalie MacMaster, they see the show and they say it's
the best version of me," she said.
not the focus. Donnell plays with Leahy, and they are awesome, and they
tour and perform and record, and when Donnell is with me, they don't
play, and that is a priority. We want Leahy to thrive. With minimal,
special gigs, it really can only help Leahy and Natalie MacMaster. They
are the bread winners in that we've spent our lives crafting these
immersed herself in Cape Breton music and spent countless hours,
meticulously choosing tunes to include on Cape Breton Girl.
literally go through song books, and mostly the old cassettes that we
have of house parties back home. And then I have a library of tunes that
I have notated myself, based on listening to those cassettes. So I just
flip through those and see, 'oh, I never did record that. It's a great
tune,' " she explained.
most part, I just spent my time listening and jotting down notes. And
then you're piecing together five, six, 10 tunes, and they all have to
have a point, and they all have to flow together."
She said she
also relies on her piano player, Mac Morin, to help fit tunes together.
travels back to Cape Breton and returns with all sorts of ideas after
going to a few house parties or square dances.
fall, MacMaster toured throughout Texas and other southern U.S. states,
and is still amazed at how well traditional Canadian East Coast fiddle
music is received.
interesting to me always. I just freaks me out, actually, seeing how
much they love it in the southern U.S. I don't know why or how, but
there is something that is delivered to them through the music, and they
get it, and they receive it in the way it's meant to be received
somehow. I don't know how that is, but I don't argue with it."
As for Cape
Breton itself, MacMaster said that she misses her home more and more, as
she is less able to get out east, because of her ever-expanding family.
myself needing to go home, to be among the people, and stay connected
with who I am and where I come from, and my family, and what it means to
be a Cape Bretoner."
Breton Girl, MacMaster shows no sign of ever forgetting her roots.
November 24, 2011
If you missed Natalie and pianist Mac Morin
on CTV's 'Canada AM' yesterday,
you can watch the segment on
November 24, 2011
PRESS RELEASE: Natalie MacMaster To Receive The 2011 Arts
and Letters Award From The Canadian Association of New York
Celebrated Cape Breton fiddler
and one of Canada’s most dynamic musical ambassadors,
Natalie MacMaster, will be presented with the Canadian
Association of New York’s 2011 Arts and Letters Award at a
ceremony during the Maple Leaf Ball at Cipriani’s 42nd
Street in Manhattan on November 18.
Past winners have made
contributions through the stage, screen, television, music,
photography and writing. Previous recipients of the Canadian
Association of New York Arts and Letters Award include
Margaret Atwood, Burton Cummings, Peter Jennings, Norman
Jewison, Karen Kain, Eugene Levy, Maureen Forrester,
Christopher Plummer, Oscar Peterson, Peter Mansbridge and
“Natalie MacMaster is one of
Canada’s most distinguished musicians and we are pleased to
pay tribute to her many accomplishments with our Arts and
Letters Award,” says Dean Keyworth, President of the
Canadian Association of New York. “MacMaster has thrilled
audiences worldwide with her feverish fiddling and
step-dancing. It’s impossible to stay in your seat when
she’s at work.”
A two-time Juno winner, MacMaster has also been named Arts
of the Year by the East Coast Music Association and
nominated for a Grammy. She is also a Member of the Order of
The Maple Leaf Ball is the gala
event of the year for the Canadian community in New York and
is organized jointly by the Canadian Association of New
York. Proceeds from the Ball will be donated to children’s
charities in New York.
24, 2011 Music Review: Natalie MacMaster - Cape
Breton Girl Bob
Mercereau, CBC News, New Brunswick
music is often no such thing. With modern elements and interpretations,
let alone the sophistication of the recording techniques, sometimes the
only thing "rootsy" is an acoustic guitar. But when Natalie MacMaster
says she's getting back to her roots, you know exactly what she means.
This is a Cape Breton fiddle album, exactly as we'd expect.
only thing fancy about the disc is where it was recorded, in Toronto's
Glenn Gould studio, no doubt because it's closer to her fast-growing
family (four kids now) and rural Ontario home. But no tricks were added,
there's no hip-hop mixes, or guest singers (well, one, but it's a
traditional version of the Lord's Prayer at the end, hardly something to
attract the kids). Synthesizers and syndrums were kept locked up. This
is how it's been done for centuries now in Cape Breton, with fiddle and
piano the main instruments, some pipes and acoustic guitar and
percussion when acceptable. Mostly though, we have jigs, reels,
strathspeys, and repeat.
beautiful thing about MacMaster is that she can introduce you to the
subtleties of the traditional form, and teach you how to appreciate the
differences of each piece. Her medleys are key, how she takes several
pieces, whether old, newer, or self-composed, and moves one into the
next to build a charming piece. Whether it's a bunch of numbers all in
F, or several linked by a style of bowing, the final mix is itself a
whole new composition. And such is her way with melody that the listener
can float along, knowing each turn will bring you something uplifting or
MULTI-PLATINUM MUSIC ICON NATALIE MACMASTER RELEASES HIGHLY ANTICIPATED
NEW ALBUM 'CAPE BRETON GIRL' TODAY!
ALBUM IS A TRIBUTE TO CAPE BRETON SOUND.
ON (November 1st, 2011) – Multi-platinum Canadian musician NATALIE
MACMASTER has announced a November 1st release for her highly
anticipated new album CAPE BRETON GIRL. Produced by NATALIE herself,
CAPE BRETON GIRL is the seminal artists’ first studio release in 5 years
and the first to be released through an exclusive partnership with eOne
Glenn Gould Studios in Toronto, 'Cape Breton Girl' sees NATALIE return
to her roots with a traditionally based album which embodies the true
Cape Breton sound.
explains: "While there are other instruments on the recording, it's the
piano and fiddle, the core instruments of Cape Breton music, that make
up the bulk of the sound on this recording".
to herself, NATALIE MACMASTER plays winningly unpretentious music. And
by recording an album as a tribute to her home-grown roots, CAPE BRETON
GIRL shows the real soul of NATALIE.
MACMASTER: wife, mother of four and virtuoso Cape Breton fiddler. You
know her more as the latter than the former; an electrifying performer
whose passionate proficiency on the beloved four-string amplifies the
traditional East Coast sound for contemporary times and has earned the
reputation as one of Canada's most captivating performers.
signature sound that has resonated with world audiences through 10
albums, multiple gold sales figures and 27 years; numerous Juno and East
Coast Music Awards; two honorary degrees (from Niagara University, NY,
and Trent University) and an honorary doctorate (St. Thomas University);
the Order Of Canada – and a reputation as one of Canada’s most
MACMASTER maintains an active touring schedule performing 100 shows a
year, sharing the stage with The Chieftains, Paul Simon, Faith Hill,
Luciano Pavarotti and in front of millions on The Tonight Show with Jay
Leno, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, the ABC 2002 New Year’s Eve Special
and Good Morning America. She has thrilled audiences throughout Europe
and North America, especially in her native Canada, enabling MacMaster
to passionately perform and promote the universal language of her Cape
NATALIE is also an author of a book, Natalie MacMaster's Cape Breton
Aire - In the works for several years, this book is the story of a
musical life and place. It is filled with Natalie’s story of the music
that she has known since before she was born and takes the reader on a
musical history journey. It features beautiful photos of Natalie’s
beloved Cape Breton Island; its landscape and its people, taken by well
respected photographer Eric Roth.
About Entertainment One
Entertainment One Ltd. (LSE:ETO) is a leading international
entertainment company that specializes in the acquisition, production
and distribution of film and television content. The company’s
comprehensive network extends around the globe including Canada, the
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Distribution divisions, the company provides extensive expertise in film
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across all media formats and includes more than 20,000 film and
television titles, 2,500 hours of television programming and 45,000
information regarding NATALIE MACMASTER, please contact:
Director of Media Relations and Label Acquisitions
eOne Music Canada
2 Pardee Avenue, Suite 300
Toronto, ON M6K3H5
P: 416-913-0998 ext 240
November 2, 2011
Natalie MacMaster releases first studio recording in five years Returning to traditional roots with Cape Breton Girl By WERNER BERGEN, The Peterborough Examiner
Natalie MacMaster has released her first studio recording in five years,
called Cape Breton Girl.
has produced the new CD herself and it is released through a partnership
with eOne Music Canada, states a press release.
married to Donnell Leahy, she is the mother of four.
Glenn Gould Studios in Toronto, Cape Breton Girl sees MacMaster return
to her roots with a traditionally based album of the Cape Breton sound.
has been around for a long time, MacMaster said, in a telephone
interview. She said it has been eight or 10 years since she has done a
solo traditional Cape Breton CD. While other music she has recorded can
be difficult to label, the CD is definitely Cape Breton traditional.
Some of the
songs have been around for centuries and aficionados will recognize
them. MacMaster said some will be new … "new to their ears." They are
still traditional but somewhat obscure. For example, there is a slow
aire that MacMaster says she hadn't heard before.
like pop where you can (singing notes) can sing along," MacMaster said.
The CD has 12 tracks but has probably 40 tunes grouped together, she
travelling Wednesday to Maine and then to Boston to wrap up the current
tour. MacMaster said they just had a five-day break from touring,
explaining why she was home in Lakefield.
always on tour," said MacMaster, having just completed a couple of weeks
in Texas. "It was awesome," she said and they even had time to go to the
beach. MacMaster said a Christmas tour is planned and then a tour in
Canada in the springtime in support of the new CD.
has recorded 10 albums, received numerous Juno and East Coast Music
Awards; two honorary degrees (from Niagara University, N.Y., and Trent
University) and an honorary doctorate (St. Thomas University) and the
Order Of Canada.
performs 100 shows a year, sharing the stage with The Chieftains, Paul
Simon, Faith Hill, Luciano Pavarotti and has been in front of millions
on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the
ABC 2002 New Year's Eve Special and Good Morning America.
She is the
author of Natalie MacMaster's Cape Breton Aire.
said her four children — five, four, two and 10 months — all go on the
road with the tour.
Natalie on CBC's "Leaders in Their Field" Series
was interviewed by CBC Radio for their series "Leaders in Their Field".
The interview will air on Thursday, September 15 at 7:40am. It will also
be available after the broadcast on CBC's
Information Morning website.
Natalie stars in CBC's "Life is a Highway" - Airing Sept. 15 & 22 at
stars in "Life
is a Highway", a new two-hour CBC documentary on Canadian music in
the '90s. The show airs in two parts on Thurs. Sept. 15 and Thurs. Sept.
22 at 8 pm EST. The show features an interview with Natalie (and
with others about her) as well as an archival performance of "Reel
Rumba," her award-winning collaboration with Jesse Cook.
It was the
decade marked by hit songs from Canadian performers as diverse as Tom
Cochrane, Sloan, Loreena McKennitt, The Tragically Hip, Shania Twain,
Blue Rodeo, Céline Dion, Moxy Früvous, Barenaked Ladies, Great Big Sea,
Jann Arden… The list of great performers and their classic songs goes on
and on! It was the 1990s, and it’s celebrated in the new, two-part
documentary LIFE IS A HIGHWAY: Canadian Pop Music in the ’90s.
When I was
first asked to write an article about Natalie MacMaster, I was somewhat
anxious. I wasn’t completely convinced that my meeting the Village
People at Ontario Place, where I worked as a stagehand, had sufficiently
prepared me for this assignment. So I did what any budding Rolling Stone
reporter would do, I looked on You Tube. Yes, Natalie MacMaster can
certainly play a fiddle, but I already knew that. She can also step
dance, and that was something I didn’t know. Next, I headed over to her
website. It was very informative. I suggest checking it out for all
things Natalie MacMaster including: news, photos, road stories and 89
recipes! Some of them are family recipes, while others have been sent in
from other musicians and fans. After making a mental note to try my hand
at making a batch of Industrial Strength Brownies (perhaps with a Celtic
Cousins Cocktail to wash them down) I decided it was time to give her a
laptop open at the ready and my black terry cloth headband embroidered
with the word “SPORTS” securely holding my earpiece in place; I was
ready to make contact. It was ringing! Unbelievably my phone started to
conk out on me as soon as I had Natalie on the line. That’s okay when
I’m talking to the folks on a Saturday morning, but I had Juno winning,
Order of Canada receiving, Natalie MacMaster on the line.“Oh, sorry,
Hello? I just have to change phones. Battery is dead. Are you still
there?” I must have sounded like a train wreck. No matter, I had a
killer list of questions lying right under the dog. “What was the first
song you ever remember hearing?” (Classic query…answer at the end) As it
turns out, Ms. MacMaster was very patient with me and we had a very
interesting conversation, which couldn’t have been easy for her with the
number of interviews she must have to give.
previously on the Life in Quebec website, Cape Breton fiddler Natalie
MacMaster will be appearing at Palais Montcalm on September 17 as part
of the 2011 Quebec City Celtic Festival. I wanted to find out what she
thought of our little walled city. Turns out she loves it! Well, all
musicians say that, but she backed it up with proof. “I love the foreign
appearance and the romantic character of Quebec City. It’s like
something out of a movie.” I wonder if she was referring to Alfred
Hitchcock’s 1953 film, I Confess starring Montgomery Clift…?
aside, Natalie finds the passion of Quebecers appealing. “They really
get into the music,” she says. Natalie and her husband, fiddler Donnell
Leahy, both agree that Quebec concert goers are among the best. “There’s
a real connection between Quebec accordion music and Cape Breton fiddle
playing; they’re both light, joyful and have great rhythm.” says
MacMaster. Although she doesn’t speak French she points out, “My music
is instrumental and music is a universal language.” I thought I would
try to impress her with my knowledge of local cuisine, but there was no
doing. Turns out that Natalie lived on poutine while she attended
teacher’s college in Truro, Nova Scotia. I’m guessing it was at the
Prince of Pizza because it’s right around the corner from the Institute
for Human Services Education and 94 people like them on facebook. Basil
Knockwood writes “One of the Best Donair Poutines i’ve had!! Good Job!”
teaching degree in early education is serving her well as she
homeschools her four children, ages 5, 4, 2 and 7 months. And to think
that I was impressed with the fact that she’s played with Yo-Yo Ma and
Carlos Santana. But who impresses Natalie MacMaster? She’s inspired by
some of the great moms that live around her. She says “You have to put
kids in the environment you want them to become. They’re not going to
want to play a fiddle, or do anything, if their friends aren’t doing
it.” I guess there’s a lesson to be learned if a world famous musician
finds raising her children to be one of life’s great rewards. She admits
that leaving home to tour is one of the most difficult things that her
and her family have to deal with, even though they often travel
together. MacMaster says “It’s a necessary part of the job.” When asked
what she enjoys about her profession Natalie doesn’t hesitate, “I love
music. I need to play. I need to entertain.”
her parents with teaching her this maxim: “Work and work hard to hone
your craft while you’re young and you have the energy, drive, time and
opportunity to learn. Save what money you can.” She confides that if she
hadn’t followed their advice, she wouldn’t be enjoying the life she has
today. That’s good consel. I decided to get some pointers on inspiring
my 11 year old to practice his trombone. Natalie practices an hour a
day, that’s when she’s not on tour. According to MacMaster “It depends
on the person if music is important, everyone has different gifts.
Learning an instrument helps with one’s personal discipline. It would be
good if schools could try to teach kids to play an instrument. If we
were all musicians in this world, there would be no war.” Natalie’s not
totally sold on computers. She muses that “The world might be a better
place if they were never invented. Sure I use them, but people weren’t
meant to spend so much time in front of a screen or socializing
exclusively electronically. We need to see each other face to face, to
be within each other’s physical presence.”
that’s the word that comes to mind when describing Natalie MacMaster.
It’s also the inspiration behind her upcoming CD, Cape Breton Girl,
recorded at the Glen Gould studios in Toronto and due out in October.
According to Natalie, “While my other albums have included traditional
music they have also been more exploratory, more arranged.” On Cape
Breton Girl, MacMaster plays a selection of good old tunes, keepers, as
she calls them that she has picked up over the years. “While there are
other instruments on the recording, it’s the piano and fiddle, the core
instruments of Cape Breton music that make up the bulk of the sound.”
Cape Breton traditions from being lost is something that MacMaster
aspires to in her recent book, Cape Breton Aire. In the works for
several years, this 161-page hardcover coffee table book is the story of
a musical life and place. It takes the reader on a journey through the
musical history of Natalie’s beloved Cape Breton Island and features
6,000 beautiful photos of its landscape and its people.
Oh yes, that
first song Natalie remembers hearing? 'Rhinestone cowboy' by Glen
not likely that anyone will ever forget the events of 9/11, but a team
of stellar Canadian musical talents are coming together in Manhattan a
few days before the 10th anniversary of the event, to salute the city’s
resiliency and honour the 26 Canadian families who lost loved ones a
Natalie McMaster, Ben Heppner, Tom Cochrane, Paul Shaffer and Tyley Ross
are just a few of the many luminaries who will be appearing at Symphony
Space at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre on Sept. 7 for a concert being
called Canada Sings the American Songbook: A Canadian Tribute to New
Keyworth, president of the Canadian Association of New York, felt the
need to have a 10th anniversary commemorative musical event in which
Canadians could offer a tribute to the city and mourn the passing of
fellow citizens who had perished that day.
approached the Canadian Consulate and began working with Sault Ste.
Marie-born Jeff Breithaupt, head of culture and communications at the
consulate. Breithaupt is also known not only as a successful songwriter
in his own right, but one of the primary advocates for Canuck artists in
New York and the producer of the popular “Canadian Songbook” series,
which has been a highlight of Canada Day in Manhattan for the past eight
agreed to serve as producer and emcee for this event and decided to
provide a mirror image of his normal songbook series, by having Canadian
artists sing American songs to acknowledge the endurance of the people
of New York.
association also wanted the event to be charitable in nature and it was
determined that all net proceeds from the concert would go to the 9/11
Tribute Centre and the 9/11 Memorial.
all this was in place, Breithaupt proceeded to work his considerable
contact list of Canadian artists, all of whom needed little persuading
to participate in the event.
spoke to Cape Breton fiddling star Natalie McMaster about her memories
of 9/11 and her reasons for participating in the concert.
was just after the Country Music Awards in 2001,” recalls McMaster. “I
woke up the next morning and turned on the TV after the first plane had
crashed. I saw the second plane crash. And I remember thinking, ‘This
can’t be for real,’ and then you keep watching and watching. Complete
shock. We play in the States all the time and I’ve been in New York so
many times, this was so close to home. It touched me greatly.
always an honour when people ask you to do something like this. I’m
grateful that they thought of me. I thought sure, why wouldn’t I? Life’s
busy, yeah, so what? It’s one of those things that no matter who you are
or where you come from, or where you’re going, you just have this inner
gravitational pull and you want to help out.”
McMaster will be performing solo on Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of
Kentucky” and will be joining Tyley Ross on Stephen Sondheim’s “No One
began his career in Canada starring in shows like Tommy and West Side
Story, but for the past decade, he’s been enjoying great success in
America as a member of the East Village Opera Company.
living in Soho, not far from the World Trade Center on that September
morning 10 years ago, and shared his recollections with me.
woken up by the loud squeals of airplane engines flying over my
apartment, followed moments later not by an explosion, but by the boxy
crunch of aluminum on aluminum. It sounded exactly like what it was, but
I refused to believe it and stayed in bed for a long time listening to
the sirens, trying to arrive at a more likely explanation for the sounds
than exactly what it sounded like.”
spent the rest of that day walking around lower Manhattan and his
memories are a collage of images.
“Terrified pedestrians diving to the ground when the first National
Guard jets started flying low over the city . . . seeing hundreds of
people covered in dust and debris with expressions of pure shock and
disbelief . . . thinking how it was so quiet that afternoon that you
could hear birdsong in New York.
more strange than anything, in a city famous for avoiding eye contact on
the street, everyone looked each other in the eyes as if to ask, ‘Are
you seeing this? Is this really happening?’”
Ross, participating in this event required no real decision. “Given the
opportunity to remember and honour the anniversary of the tragedy 10
years ago, I could think of no better way to do it than in song
alongside fellow Canadians who are connected to this town.”
the Sondheim song he and MacMaster will be performing has the perfect
to see the light now,
Just don’t let it go.
Things will turn out right now,
We can make it so.
Someone is on your side,
No one is alone.”
August 23, 2011 ON
GOLDEN POND - Ernest Thompson, writer and director
Songs in play accompanied by renowned Canadian fiddler Natalie MacMaster Boston.com
N.H. - Every artist holds a special affection for the first piece of his
work that wins recognition.
Thompson, that recognition came when his play “On Golden Pond’’ was
first produced on Broadway, in 1979. The work has become an American
theatrical classic, translated into 28 languages and produced in more
than 40 countries.
33 years since I wrote it, and it keeps coming back on a semi-regular
basis,’’ he said. “There was the play, then of course the movie, then
the TV play, then the musical version, then it was back on Broadway
while, on balance it seemed ridiculous for me not to do my own
summer, Thompson is staging what he calls “the definitive production’’
of “On Golden Pond’’ at the tiny Little Church Theater (an actual former
community church) not far from his current home base by Squam Lake.
first time, Thompson is directing his own play with professional actors
in a theatrical setting.
said he has not been displeased with other presentations of it, but
every playwright longs to “put your own spin on your own play.’’
It’s been 30
years since the movie “On Golden Pond’’ - set in Maine but filmed near
Squam Lake, and featuring Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda
- won three Academy Awards, including one for Thompson’s screenplay.
Since that time, the writer-actor has worked on many projects, including
several different productions of his play. (“Another Summer,’’ a musical
version directed by Thompson, was staged by the Seacoast Repertory
Theatre in Portsmouth, N.H., in 1997.)
for the latest show, which Thompson admits to tinkering with over the
years, is cleared of some of the more visual movie scenes. For instance,
the boating accident involving the lead character, college professor
Norman Thayer (played by Frank T. Wells) is gone. So is the incident
when Thayer’s adult daughter Chelsea (Lori Gigliotti Murphy) attempts to
win her father’s approval with a tricky dive into the lake water. (The
Fondas played those roles in the film; Henry Fonda and Hepburn won best
actor and best actress Oscars.)
line spoken to her husband by Ethel Thayer (played by Vinette Cotter),
and named one of the most memorable movie quips of all time, is gone:
“Listen to me, mister. You’re my knight in shining armor.’’ It wasn’t in
the original play; Thompson says he added it after Hepburn asked for
some more dialogue to help her with the scene.
production] is in the sprit of sharing the play as, I, a young writer,
envisioned, unplugged,’’ Thompson said.
the core is a great and wonderful story, as observed at a performance
earlier this summer. The production is a warm, funny show about a
family’s efforts to overcome inherent relationship difficulties with
their best understandings of intimate simple love.
One new aspect of this production is the inclusion of two original
songs: “On Golden Pond’’ was co-written by Thompson with longtime music
collaborator Joe Deleault; “The Father Daughter Dance’’ was written by
him and legendary singer-songwriter Carly Simon. The songs appear in the
play in recordings of Simon singing, accompanied by renowned Canadian
fiddler Natalie MacMaster.
August 2, 2011
An electrifying performance by Natalie and Donnell Leahy
with Mac Morin & Erin Leahy
on Piano at the Prescott Park Arts Festival's Folk Festival.
(Video courtesy the Portsmouth Patch)
show from the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH
will be streamed live online at 8:00pm ET ...
Click here to
June 19, 2011 Clogging
Fever Sweeps Green by Paul Bass, New Haven Independent
the music started on the main stage of the New Haven Green, Natalie
MacMaster stopped talking.
notes of the fiddle tunes of her native Cape Breton, Canada, did the
talking for MacMaster as she fired up a crowd at the International
Festival of Arts and Ideas Saturday night.
Without the need for a microphone to sing into, and with the help of two
mic pick-ups for her fiddle strapped to the back of a superhero-style
belt, MacMaster was free to jam face-to-face with her back-up musicians,
keyboardist Mac Morin, cellist Nathaniel Smith, and drummer J.D. Blair.
clogged, step-danced, even moonwalked across the stage throughout over
an hour of high-energy playing.
point, between songs, MacMaster did instruct the crowd in some
traditional folk steps. She expected the crowd to dance along with her.
June 9, 2011
N.S. film on Dolly Parton airs Tuesday on Bravo!
Lady" has its Bravo! premiere on Tuesday at 10 p.m.
Nova Scotia natives Brad Horvath and Natasha Ryan and directed by Ryan,
the half-hour documentary focuses on Dolly Parton.
superstar who is known around the world as a Grammy Award-winning and
Academy Award-nominated country singer, songwriter and actress is also
known as The Book Lady. Since 1996, Dolly’s Imagination Library has been
sending free, age-appropriate, hardcover books to children in Canada,
the U.S. and the U.K. from the time they’re born until they’re five
Nova Scotia, Tenessee and Toronto, it includes interviews with Miley
Cyrus, Keith Urban, Sarah Harmer, Justin Rutledge, Natalie MacMaster,
Robert Munsch, Dolly herself, and more.
at the 2008 Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax and screened at the 2009
Nashville Film Festival. It has also screened on CBC TV.
May 10, 2011
Married to a farmer
and loving it
By John P. McLaughlin, The Province, B.C
her perform once and when you hear the music again you’ll always picture
Natalie MacMaster bouncing on the balls of her feet, blond tresses
flying as she wildly fiddles the jigs and reels she learned as a girl
back home in Cape Breton. She is, by any measure, a virtuoso, noted and
lauded worldwide for promoting a music style from a tiny corner of North
America that may well have been washed out with the tide but for her.
said, her life has changed dramatically since she married fellow fiddler
Donnell Leahy of Lakefield, Ont.’s musical Leahy Family in 2002.
MacMaster, just shy of 40, is now the mother of four kids under the age
of five and lives in a large, newly built farmhouse in sleepy Douro,
Ont. where the postmaster’s position at the local convenience store has
been held by the same family since the late 1800s.
youngest is a baby, born last January, and she’s home-schooling the
rest. She just oversaw the design and construction of the new house —
that’s enough picking out of materials, surfaces and colours to drive
you nuts — recorded a new album, maintains a regular concert schedule
and has just self-published a memoir. What drug, I asked, is she on.
“Love”, she replied. “The love drug”.
book is titled
Natalie MacMaster: A Cape Breton Aire: The Story of a Musical Life and
Place and is only available on her web page, at her concerts or at a
few little shops around Douro or on Cape Breton. In it she writes about
her extended fiddling family and grand-uncle Charlie MacMaster who sent
over a three-quarter sized fiddle he’d bought in Boston and instructed
it go to whoever wanted it. Little Natalie did. She was nine.
always get a kick out of the fact that my mother and father never
thought to get me a small fiddle before that,” says MacMaster. “We had
fiddles in our house and people would stop in and play them. Dad always
kinda scratched a tune. But my brothers weren’t serious players, my dad
was never serious at all. But we had fiddle music on the record player
and the tape recorder all the time.”
doubt much of it from Natalie’s famed uncle Buddy MacMaster. And the
tapes came from cassette recordings of house parties where friends and
family would gather, knock back some beer or a little Captain Morgan
(“not much wine, we weren’t that refined”) and play the night away.
Those cassettes were copied and passed hand to hand and are the chief
source of her initial repertoire and technique. She has them still and
they are treasured.
the years of tours and record releases later here she is, maintaining a
schedule of about 100 concerts a year, but otherwise amazed she wound up
married to a farmer. They tend beef cattle but MacMaster concedes she
doesn’t do much of the heavy lifting, content to “... sit in my nice
house, have a glass of beer and watch my husband on his tractor.”
Tonight MacMaster will be appearing with the Vancouver Symphony
Orchestra, the sort of show she only mounts about a half dozen times a
year. But she does love doing them.
I really like about it is it’s such a change from what I normally do,”
says MacMaster. “I really enjoy change, it keeps music fresh. The
symphonies create a really lush, big, beautiful sound. It’s lovely.
There are tunes we do from our show with my band that we do with the
symphonies and when I get away from the symphony and play them with my
band I can hear all the different string parts and horn sections and
things ringing in my ears. The arrangements are really great.”
March 16, 2011
Two fiddles, two pianos - Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy set to
Cottage Country Now (Article provided by the Charles W. Stockey Centre)
Centre is ecstatic to be presenting the return of two highly noted
Canadian musicians—Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy—to Parry Sound
for an unforgettable Celtic performance.
Natalie MacMaster the most dynamic performer in Celtic music today is
high praise, but it still doesn't get at just how remarkable a concert
artist this Cape Breton Island fiddler has become,” notes the The Boston
Herald, in January of 2004.
home on the concert stage or at a folk festival, Cape Breton fiddler
Natalie MacMaster is one of the most versatile and exciting young
musicians on both the Folk music and Celtic music scenes. Natalie's live
performances are a testament to her incandescent musicianship and
boundless energy, featuring foot-tapping rave-ups, heart-rending
ballads, and world-class step dancing. Natalie's fiddling fireworks on
traditional and contemporary Celtic melodies generate a kind of
“traditional fusion” delivered with uplifting energy felt by the
musicians and audiences of all ages. It’s a signature sound that has
resonated with world audiences through 10 albums, multiple gold sales
figures and 27 years; numerous Juno and East Coast Music Awards; two
honorary degrees (from Niagara University, NY, and Trent University) and
an honorary doctorate (St. Thomas University); the Order Of Canada – and
a reputation as one of Canada’s most captivating performers. She is an
electrifying performer whose passionate proficiency on the beloved
four-string amplifies the traditional East Coast sound for contemporary
Leahy is the eldest member of the awe-inspiring eight-member brother and
sister act from Canada who produce a whirlwind triple threat of
fiddle-driven music, dance and song. The band’s three acclaimed CDs—
Leahy, Lakefield, and In All Things—have world-wide sales of over half a
continues to move forward as musicians and performers. Winter 2007 saw
them release their first ever live DVD and CD. PBS audiences are
currently watching Leahy’s third television special.
audiences need to do to understand the style that has come to be known
as “Leahy” is look at their awards—Junos for Best New Group, Best
Country Group, and Best Instrumental Album, the most played folk/roots
song in Canada in 2004 and the Socan award for Folk/Jazz instrumentalist
the following year. Their self-titled album rose to number four on the
Billboard world music charts and found its way onto the soundtrack of
the award-winning movie The Hanging Garden. On stage Leahy brought 175
audiences to their feet when they opened for pop-star Shania Twain on
her inaugural world tour.
their whole being to each and every performance. Their life story reads
like a Hollywood movie; a large family raised without a television on a
farm in the small town of Lakefield, Ontario. In fact, their life story
was so compelling that it became the subject of an Oscar winning
They hit the Stockey stage on Thursday, Sept. 29.
sent in a short letter with her latest news.
Click here to
January 11, 2011
Tune in to
CBC Radio's "Atlantic Airwaves" on Saturday, January 15th to hear a
concert by Natalie recorded live in Whycocomagh, Cape Breton, at the
2010 Celtic Colours International Festival.