Teachers 2022

SCOTLAND —SWEDEN — CANADA


(More to be added)

FIDDLE

Alasdair Fraser ▪ Anders Hall ▪ Shane Cook
Hanneke Cassel ▪ Laura Risk
Janette Duncan ▪ Caroline McCaskey

CELLO
Natalie Haas ▪ Valerie Thompson ▪ Renata Bratt

BASS
Joseph Phillips

GUITAR
Colin Cotter ▪ Joseph Phillips

ENSEMBLE
Ryan McKasson

RHYTHM/PERCUSSION

DANCE
Nic Gareis

PIANO
Neil Pearlman

SONG
Laura Cortese


Fiddle Classes

Fiddle classes are scheduled in the morning and early afternoon and allow participants to study the various styles taught by each instructor. All tunes are taught by ear, and class divisions, ranging from advanced to those who have never played before, are based on students’ rate of learning by ear.

Alasdair Fraser is recognized throughout the world as one of the finest fiddle players Scotland has ever produced; [his] name is synonymous with the vibrant cultural renaissance which is transforming the Scottish musical scene.” —Scots Magazine

The variety and expressivity of Alasdair’s playing is evident in his numerous recordings—from intimate fiddle/guitar duets, to a more contemporary interpretation of tradition, to high energy original tunes with his Skyedance band. Highly acclaimed albums include “Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Vols. 1 and 2,” and “Fire and Grace, ” which was named Scots Trad Album of the Year for 2004. Most recently, “In the Moment” reveals his expanding interests and inspiration as both player and composer. In Alasdair’s class, you will learn a variety of Scottish tune types and how to use special bowings, Scottish ornaments and a rhythmic drive to make the tunes come alive and express their Scottish origins.

Anders Hall comes from Arbrå, Hälsingland in Sweden. He plays the fiddle, viola and also the Hardanger fiddle, an instrument he studied at the Ole Bull Academy in Voss, Norway from 2006-2008. As a result he now has a unique knowledge of both Norwegian traditional music as well as his native Swedish.

He has established himself as a creative and gifted musician on the Nordic folk music scene, co-founding The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc and working with the likes of SVER & Sigrid Moldestad. He has an ability to reach the listener, fitting together old traditions with innovative ideas and expressions.

Shane Cook is a Canadian and US National fiddle champion, Shane Cook captivates audiences with technically thrilling and adventurous performances. Noted by The Canadian Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame as one of the “finest fiddlers in the world today,” Cook has distinguished himself as a master of the Canadian old-time fiddle tradition. He also excels at styles ranging from Irish and Scottish to French-Canadian and Bluegrass.

In concert, Shane captivates audiences with his danceable playing that is as adventurous as it is technically thrilling.

Shane teaches both privately and at several annual fiddle camps, sharing his deep understanding of Canadian fiddle. He is a graduate of Western University and resides in London, Ontario with his wife and son.


Hanneke Cassel's approach to music is aptly expressed in the title of her debut album, "My Joy." Alasdair Fraser characterized the album as "…fiddle music played with great stylistic integrity and personal flair…" Hanneke's second album, "Some Melodious Sonnet," released in 2004, contains a variety of her own compositions, some hauntingly melodic, others exuberantly energetic. Hanneke has immersed herself in the music of Scotland and Cape Breton for many years and has won three U.S. National Scottish Fiddling championships. She is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music.

Laura Risk is a fiddler whose love of the music of Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton and Quebec has led her into a rich journey of performing and teaching. Laura is known throughout the U.S. as an outstanding teacher, able to inspire students at any level. As evidenced in several highly praised albums, her playing is especially expressive and versatile, ranging from elegant music composed for 18th century Scottish drawing rooms to driving strathspeys and reels suitable for a Cape Breton dance floor. The eloquence of Laura’s fiddling is especially evident is her album of Scottish tunes, “2000 Miles,” To help fiddlers learn new tunes by ear, Laura has recorded two sets of CDs containing nearly 150 tunes from a variety of fiddle traditions, played slowly and at normal performance tempo.

Janette Duncan (BA, Music) has benefited from both classical violin training and a fiddling heritage. Her grandfather was a fiddler and her dad a guitar player. Janette’s own fiddling has been particularly influenced and inspired by Bengt Johnson and Alasdair Fraser. She has herself inspired a great many players through her performances—as a member of the Bi-Coastal International Dance Band, Dockside and other ensembles—and her teaching, including beginning string classes in schools, a community college course she teaches on “Celtic Session Tunes,” and private instruction at home in Sonoma County, California. Her students are encouraged to learn to read and write music but also play the fiddle by “ear and heart.”

Janette will teach the basic beginning fiddle class for adults who have little or no experience with the instrument.

Class: "Fiddle Kids"

Caroline McCaskey started her musical journey as a fiddler, and has toured the U.S. as a member of contra dance band Stringfire! In 2019 she won the U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Competition. She has also taught for many years at Fiddlekids Day Camp.

She completed her Master of Music in Viola Performance at Lamont School of Music, earning the Recital of Distinction; the first violist in 17 years to do so. Aalong with her string quartet she also won Lamont’s 2012 chamber music competition. In 2009, Caroline was also a winner of University of the Pacific’s concerto competition, playing the first movement of the Walton concerto.

Caroline plays cello internationally as a substitute member of Scottish dance band Reel of Seven, and has been on staff teaching cello at Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp.

CELLO

Natalie Haas is in the vanguard of young cellists pushing the envelope of the cello while simultaneously carrying it back into the fold of traditional Celtic music. She has graced the performances and recordings of many renowned fiddlers, particularly Alasdair Fraser, with whom she has been performing in the US and Europe for several years. Since she began teaching at Celtic Connections in Glasgow and VOM in 2002, various music camps and festivals have been eager to engage her. Her recent album with Alasdair, "Fire and Grace," was named Scots Trad Music Album of the Year for 2004. Natalie's powerful and rhythmic playing make it easy to understand why Alasdair says, "In18th century Scotland, the fiddle and cello were the dance band of choice."

In Natalie's class you will learn bowing techniques, ornamentation, bass lines and rhythmic techniques to suit the style and mood of a variety of music, including the tunes the fiddlers are learning.

Valerie Thompson: a graduate of the Berklee School of Music, Valerie is a well-rounded musician who is comfortable in any playing situation. She divides her time between a very active cello studio, performing regularly with Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards, writing music and performing with Goli (a Cello/Marimba/Vocal ensemble), and attending a plethora of weddings and events for C-Zone Music. Valerie grew up in Kansas City, MO and now resides in Central Square, Cambridge, MA.

Cellist Renata Bratt has taught fiddling, jazz improvisation and classical styles at string workshops for children and adults, including Wintergrass, Alasdair Fraser's Sierra Fiddle Camp, Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School, Southern Hemisphere International School for Scottish Fiddling (in New Zealand), New Directions Cello Festival, the National Cello Institute, IAJE, ASTA, MENC and Suzuki institutes and conferences. Renata received her Ph.D. in Music from the University of California at San Diego.

She has toured internationally with Reel of Seven (a Scottish Country Dance Band) performed with luminaries such as Liz Carroll and John Doyle, Darol Anger and Alasdair Fraser, and played back-up with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, David Sanborn, Lyle Lovett and Dionne Warwick. Rolling Stone dubbed her an "ace performer" for her work recording and touring with alternative rocker Cindy Lee Berryhill's Garage Orchestra.

Renata writes cello books for Mel Bay Publishing and string orchestra arrangements for Alfred and Ludwig Publishing. Her CDs A Slice of Summer, Great Big Taters, and Jazz Trio 2006 are available wherever downloads are sold.

BASS

Joseph Phillips: Born and raised in Toronto, Joe Phillips started studying classical guitar at age 9, at the University Settlement House Music School. He attended Oakwood Collegiate where he discovered the double bass.

​Time spent playing in various blues bars, Irish pubs and booze cans and four years studying with renowned classical virtuoso Joel Quarrington have led to a busy and diverse career. When not playing principal bass in London Symphonia, Joe can be found making music with artists as varied as The Art of Time Ensemble, Via Salzburg Chamber Orchestra, Group of 27 Chamber Orchestra, cabaret siren Patricia O’Callaghan, songwriters Jenny Whiteley, Sarah Slean, Ruth Moody, the Wailin’ Jennys, Corin Raymond and Rita Chiarelli, jazz bassist/cellist/composer Andrew Downing, banjoist Jayme Stone, Canadian fiddlers Pierre Schryer and Shane Cook and Irish flute and whistle virtuoso Nuala Kennedy.

Joe has performed with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Les Violons du Roy, I Musici de Montréal, Tafelmusik and the Festival of the Sound and is an annual participant in the Sweetwater Music weekend in Owen Sound, Ontario.

GUITAR

Colin Cotter is a multi-instrumentalist who began fiddling at an early age as part of his family tradition in Finnish fiddle music, and eventually dove into Scottish fiddling. He is a self-taught guitarist, mixing influences from around the world, and his emotive songwriting bridges the gaps between American and Celtic folk, and rock.

Joseph Phillips: see his bio under BASS.

ENSEMBLE

Ryan McKasson has gained a reputation as a performer, composer, collaborator, and teacher. In 1996 he was the youngest person to win the National Scottish Fiddle Championship. In 1997 he was awarded a Merit Scholarship for Viola Performance from the University of Southern California where he studied with Donald McInnes.

RHYTHM/PERCUSSION

TBA

DANCE

Nic Gareiss has been hailed by the New York Times for his "dexterous melding of Irish and Appalachian dance" and called "the most inventive and expressive step dancer on the scene” by the Boston Herald. He re-imagines movement as a musical practice, recasting dance as medium that appeals to both eyes and ears. Originally from Michigan, Gareiss draws from many percussive dance traditions, weaving together a dance technique facilitating his love of improvisation, traditional dance footwork vocabulary, and musical collaboration.

He has concertized in fourteen countries for over ten years with many of the luminaries of traditional music, including Alasdair Fraser, Natalie Haas, Frankie Gavin, Dervish, Bill Frisell, Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky, Phil Wiggins, Buille, Solas, Liz Carroll, Martin Hayes, The Gloaming and The Chieftains. Nic holds degrees in Anthropology and Music from Central Michigan University and a MA in Ethnochoreology from the University of Limerick. Gareiss' essay, "An Buachaillín Bán: Reflections on One Queer's Performance within Traditional Irish Music & Dance" appears in the book "Meanings and Makings of Queer Dance" edited by Clare Croft in Oxford University Press.


PIANO

Neil Pearlman: Multi-instrumentalist, stepdancer and host of podcast TradCafe, Neil Pearlman is a vital and distinctive voice in contemporary traditional music. Described as “a tremendous pianist” on BBC Radio Scotland and “a force to be reckoned with” by WGBH’s Brian O’Donovan, Neil is recognized in many Celtic music circles for his unique approach to the piano. Rooted in traditional Cape Breton piano styles, he adds jazz harmony and the syncopations of funk, Cuban, and Brazilian dance music to create a unique and infectious sound. It was this innovative style that led legendary Cape Breton fiddler Jerry Holland to say “watching Neil’s hands on the piano was like watching two spiders on crack!”

Today Neil's musical projects run the gamut from deeply traditional to refreshingly contemporary. He collaborates regularly with fiddlers Katie McNally, Alden Robinson, Galen Fraser, and Ed Pearlman. He also performs with the larger Afro-Celtic Funk band Soulsha and the quartet Fàrsan, mixing Gaelic song, stepdance, fiddle and pipes.

SONG

Laura Cortese: Berklee College of Music graduate Laura Cortese's highly-visible work as a supporting musician (fiddle, vocals, and bass) includes appearances with Band of Horses, Pete Seeger, Rose Cousins, Uncle Earl and as part of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden. With seven studio albums to her credit, Laura's Compass Records debut, "California Calling," is the next step in her career as a fiddler, singer, frontwoman and songwriter.  Her performances and recordings have garnered acclaim from BBC, fRoots, No Depression, the Boston Globe, the Denver Post,  and the Bluegrass Situation, among others. Her band, the Dance Cards, has twice served as U.S. State Department cultural ambassadors, performing, presenting workshops, and collaborating with musicians in India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Estonia, Montenegro and Greece.

Laura teaches fiddle and singing internationally at Newcastle University in England, and University of Limerick in Ireland and has given fiddle, song, and dance instruction at many summer fiddle camps, including Alasdair Fraser's Valley of the Moon Fiddle School, Mark O'Connor's Nashville Fiddle Camp, the Sierra Fiddle Camp, and Folkworks Youth Summer School in Newcastle, UK.  Laura is also co-founder of the acclaimed Miles of Music Camp and BCMFest, a community festival organized by Boston-area musicians, singers and dancers.