On March 12, at 7:30 p.m., Blackstone River Theatre will present Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas in a streaming concert called “Highlander’s Farewell.” Ticket price is $20 and an additional $2.28 charge is added on by the streaming platform. As a bonus, with ticket purchase, viewers can watch again or later at any time during an included 48-hour rebroadcast. Tickets can be purchased at www.riverfolk.org or directly at: https://boxoffice.mandolin.com/products/alasdair-fraser-natalie-haas-highlanders-farewell-3-12?oid=49&affid=99


Highlander’s Farewell” celebrates a 20-year musical retrospective of one of the most acclaimed duos in traditional music. Blackstone River Theatre will be one of the sponsors for the 3rd concert in a series of 6 completely different shows with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas. The musical partnership between Alasdair Fraser, long regarded as Scotland’s premier fiddle ambassador, and the sizzlingly-talented young California cellist Natalie Haas may not seem an obvious one. Fraser has a concert and recording career spanning 33 years, with a long list of awards, accolades, television credits, and feature performances on top movie soundtracks (Last of the Mohicans, Titanic and more). He has been sponsored by the British Council to represent Scotland’s music internationally, and he received the Scottish Heritage Center Service Award for outstanding contributions to Scottish culture and traditions. 


Haas, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, wasn’t even born when Alasdair was winning national fiddle competitions on the other side of the Atlantic. But this seemingly unlikely pairing is the fulfillment of a long-standing musical dream for Fraser, whose cutting-edge musical explorations took him full circle to find a cellist who could help him return the cello to its historical role at the rhythmic heart of Scottish dance music. “Going back to the 1700s, and as late as the early 20th century,” Fraser says, “fiddle and cello made up the dance band of choice in Scotland, with the cellist bowing bass lines and driving the rhythm. Pianos and accordions elbowed out the cello, relegating it to an orchestral setting.” When Natalie was just 15, Fraser and Haas played their first gig together. Natalie is in the vanguard of young cellists who are redefining the role of the cello in traditional music. Their CD “Fire & Grace” won not only critical acclaim, but also the coveted the Scots Trad Music “Album of the Year” award, the Scottish equivalent of a Grammy.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music for What'sUpNewp, SO RI, Folk Radio UK and more. He's also a DJ Tuesday night 6-9PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.