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

GUITAR
Colin Cotter ▪ Conor Hearn

ENSEMBLE
Ryan McKasson

DANCE
Nic Gareis ▪ Erik Hoffman

PIANO
Neil Pearlman

SONG
Laura Cortese

Roaming Tune Meisters
Katie McNally
Cullen Luper


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.

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.

Conor Hearn is a stylistically diverse guitar player and instructor who specializes in accompaniment of traditional Irish and Scottish fiddle. Hailing from the Irish music communities of Washington D.C. and Maryland, Conor grew up playing fiddle and guitar in traditional Irish music sessions. While studying to attain his B.A in English Literature with a minor in Music from Tufts University, Conor started working as a professional guitar player by lending his innovative rhythmic skills to a panoply of groups and projects.

Conor has performed on programs such as Brian O'Donovan's Celtic Sojourn, and with Soulsha, The Galen Fraser Quartet, TriHearn, and Pumpkin Bread. He has taught guitar at Alasdair Fraser's Sierra Fiddle and Valley of the Moon Fiddle camps, and established himself as a cutting-edge Scottish and Irish plaver.

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.

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.

Erik Hoffman spends his time calling Old-Time Country Dancing, playing music (fiddle, guitar, voice, mandolin, bodhran, and other odds and ends), and tutoring math. He also loves leading dances for families and children.


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. 

Katie McNally grew up playing Scottish and Cape Breton music near Boston, Massachusetts A member of the cross-genre fiddle supergroup, Childsplay, Katie has also toured with Karan Casey, John Whelan, and Galician bagpiper Carlos Núñez.

She has appeared at Celtic Colours, Celtic Connections, Newport Folk Festival, and The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, as well as countless folk venues throughout North America and Europe. In addition to her busy touring schedule, she is the artistic director of the Boston States Fiddle Camp and is a devoted educator who teaches regularly at fiddle camps across the country and gives private lessons at her home in Portland, Maine.


Cullen "Cujo" Luper
is a San Francisco-based multi-instrumentalist, performer, composer, & teacher whose interests range from Bach to Basie, Gow to Gershwin, Rameau to Reinhardt, & Fritz Kreisler to Fraser. It all started with Suzuki violin, classical piano, San Francisco Early Music Society camps, San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers, Alasdair Fraser’s Music Camps, contradances, busking with my brother on the streets of San Francisco, & touring Ireland & Scotland. What did I learn? GROOVE! Got to GROOVE! 

Fast forward to now, I am studying Applied Composition and Technology at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In other words, composing video game and movie music and all the producing and audio tech stuff.  I am honored to play violin and piano weekly with Paul Mehling’s Le Jazz Hot, and be the violin alternate for the Hot Club of San Francisco. Whenever I get the chance I play with my fiddle camp buddies/heroes at festivals, weddings, dances, & gigs.