Natalie MacMaster ...A Performance to Remember
Recently I visited my daughter and son-in-law, who live in Columbia County, New York. They invited me to join them for a concert featuring Natalie MacMaster and explained that she is an extraordinary fiddler from Cape Breton Island. That was all that I knew about her and I had no idea how exciting the evening would prove to be.
From the minute that Natalie came on stage the audience was mesmerized. Her energy is not to be believed. She is an accomplished dancer as well as a fiddler and she combines both talents in her performance.
Natalie’s nimble fiddling ranges from traditional and contemporary Celtic melodies to folk music and even some classical symphony pieces. She was accompanied by a simple quartet consisting of piano, cello, drums and a young man who played a variety of instruments, including bagpipes, flute, guitar and banjo.
Besides her magnificent stage presence I was impressed with the warmth of her interchanges with the audience. She encouraged them to clap or dance or show signs of enjoyment at any point in her performance. She also shared her show with a local group of young fiddlers. They were High School students from Dutchess County, NY called “The Strawberry Hill Fiddlers” and she actually invited them to accompany her on stage. What a thrill that must have been for those youngsters to have Natalie give her time and her encouragement to them.
To say that I was impressed would be an understatement. When I arrived back at my daughter’s home I emailed one of my blogger friends…AC of Raindrops… to see if he’d ever heard of Natalie. He lives in Canada, is a violinist and loves folk music. This was his reply email: “Natalie is perhaps the most famous Canadian fiddler. Six years ago, we were introduced to her mother in the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou which is in Cape Breton. Two of the Rankin sisters (my favorite group) now own that pub. I have also heard her husband. He belongs to a group that hails from not far away from here -- Leahy. They are a family and they all fiddle. Somewhere, I have a CD of theirs, but I don't have a Natalie CD.”
Isn’t it fun when we bloggers can communicate like that? Natalie had mentioned her husband and family to the audience and even shared that she was nursing a 3 month old baby between breaks! She now has two children and they (and her mother) travel with her.
She must have tremendous stamina in order to be able to sustain a live performance of that caliber. Her talent and enthusiasm were awe inspiring and it was an evening that I will remember forever.