Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas – SYZYGY Release Concert

Paul Emery Presents
Nevada Theatre, Nevada City, CA
Saturday, October 16, 8:00pm
$35 premium reserved seating
$25 general admission

We are abiding by Nevada County Public Health requirements for all shows.
Masks are required at all times. Proof of vaccination or negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of the event is required for entry.

SYZYGY: “the joining of any two entities without losing the individual characteristics of either one.”

Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and California cellist Natalie Haas celebrate the release of their most recent CD SYZYGY at the historic Nevada Theatre in Nevada City, California.

This word has SO many meanings and is derived from the Greek and Latin words describing a state of “conjunction”. Spending time with syzygy will whisk the enquiring mind into the realms of astronomy, mathematics, biology, computers, Jungian philosophy and symbolism, gnosticism, yin yang, rhythmites, tides, and the subtle metric power of a poem. Then, most surprisingly perhaps, one encounters the concept of the “Caledonian antisysygy” – a condition claimed for Scotland by G. Gregory Smith in 1919 to describe the clash of extremes at the heart of the Scottish mind and character.

While none of the above was on our minds while writing this music, the word kept calling to us as a way to describe what we strive for in our fiddle and cello duo of over 20 years. This, our sixth album together, marks a culminating point on our musical journey. The compositions are original, shared equally, and enable us to celebrate our contrasting backgrounds, experiences and world views while engaging in a dance-like celebration of two instruments in deep and playful conversation. This album showcases our continuing compositional direction towards the ultimate combination of minimalism and richness, seeking moments of both sophistication and vigor while relishing the ancient and modern. The tunes are rooted in tradition as always – weddings, newborns, bicycle mishaps, Scottish landscapes, Nordic heroes, Broadway, family, myths, jesters and troubadours – and then there’s that antisyzygy again – a “zigzag of contradictions”!

cutting-edge fiddle and cello explorations of Scottish and global music

” … you would think they’d been playing together for centuries. While his fiddle dances, her cello throbs darkly or plucks puckishly. Then [Haas] opens her cello’s throat, joining Fraser in soaring sustains, windswept refrains, and sudden, jazzy explosions. Their sound is as urbane as a Manhattan midnight, and as wild as a Clackmannan winter.” — Boston Globe

“As many gigs as they must have played together over the past decade or so, there remains a striking spontaneity about Fraser and Haas’s music-making. He has tonal variation and attack to spare, but what makes them so consistently absorbing is the responsiveness each shows to the other. Haas is more than a cellist: she’s the rhythm section who uses the percussive chip’n’chop of her bowing and the double bass-like pulse of her pizzicato playing to great effect. The accompanist’s role moves so fluently between them, building tension all the while, and then they’ll slip into unison and it’s like floodgates opening. “ — The Herald

“Fraser, one of the most respected of all exponents of the Scots fiddle, would look long and hard to find a more appropriate cellist as a partner…A positive joy.” — The Scotsman

The musical partnership between consummate performer Alasdair Fraser, “the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling”, and brilliant Californian cellist Natalie Haas spans the full spectrum between intimate chamber music and ecstatic dance energy. Over the last 20 years of creating a buzz at festivals and concert halls across the world, they have truly set the standard for fiddle and cello in traditional music. They continue to thrill audiences internationally with their virtuosic playing, their near-telepathic understanding and the joyful spontaneity and sheer physical presence of their music.

Fraser has a concert and recording career spanning over 30 years, with a long list of awards, accolades, radio and television credits, and feature performances on top movie soundtracks (Last of the Mohicans, Titanic, etc.). In 2011, he was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. Haas, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, is one of the most sought after cellists in traditional music today. She has performed and recorded with a who’s who of the fiddle world including Mark O’Connor, Natalie MacMaster, Irish supergroups Solas and Altan, Liz Carroll, Dirk Powell, Brittany Haas, Darol Anger, Jeremy Kittel, Hanneke Cassel, Laura Cortese, and many more.

This seemingly unlikely pairing of fiddle and cello is the fulfillment of a long-standing musical dream for Fraser. His search eventually led him to find a cellist who could help return the cello to its historical role at the rhythmic heart of Scottish dance music, where it stood for hundreds of years before being relegated to the orchestra. The duo’s debut recording, Fire & Grace, won the coveted the Scots Trad Music “Album of the Year” award, the Scottish equivalent of a Grammy. Since its release, the two have gone on to record four more critically acclaimed albums that blend a profound understanding of the Scottish tradition with cutting-edge string explorations. In additional to performing, they both have motivated generations of string players through their teaching at fiddle camps across the globe.