Thursday, December 8, 2011

Natalie MacMaster is fiddlin’ around the country

Natalie MacMasterCover of Natalie MacMaster
Last week, renowned fiddler Natalie MacMaster boarded a bus with a brood of children in tow, headed to her next performance in Pittsfield, Mass.

Tonight, she brings her high-energy, driving music to the College of St. Benedict Benedicta Arts Center, where she’ll perform a mixture of Cape Breton stylings as well as traditional Christmas carols.

“I want (people) to come and be lifted in life,” said the 40-something MacMaster. “To go and feel motivated to live and be challenged.”

The Grammy-nominated MacMaster plays 100 shows a year throughout the United States and Canada. The fiddling phenom from Nova Scotia first picked up a 3/4-sized fiddle at age 9½, a gift given to her by her grand uncle.

Raised in what she calls a musical home, MacMaster didn’t so much study fiddling as she let it seep in. For six months she learned from her dad and then spent two years playing tunes and learning secrets from notable Cape Breton fiddler Stan Chapman.

Music, she said, was always prominent growing up. Her lineage includes her famed uncle Hugh Alan “Buddy” MacMaster, her cousin Andrea Beaton and the late John Allan Cameron, of Canadian folk fame. MacMaster has truly made a name for herself in her own right. She has recorded with Yo-Yo Ma and earned numerous accolades including the 2011 Arts and Letters Award from the Canadian Association of New York.

Now she and fiddler husband Donnell Leahy are passing the music genes on to their kids. Together they have four children, ages 5, 4, 2 and 10 months, who travel with them on the road. Two of their children have started on the fiddle, one plays piano and one dances. MacMasters balances her music career while being a mom. Just before she loaded the family onto the bus she spent three hours in the hotel lobby home schooling her 5-year-old.

For her, raising children in a music-filled world is important. For her audience, she said, music can be an escape from reality.

“It gives you so much more than you think,” she said.

MacMaster will perform at 7:30 tonight in Escher Auditorium, 37 College Ave. S, St. Joseph.

Tickets are available in advance by calling the box office at 363-5777, online at or at the door. Tickets are $30 for individuals, $27 for seniors, $10 for youths.

Natalie MacMaster is fiddlin’ around the country | St. Cloud TIMES |

No comments: