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Alasdair Fraser

From Wind Repertory Project
Alasdair Fraser


Alasdair Fraser (b. 14 May 195, Clackmannan, Scotland) is a Scottish fiddler, composer, performer and recording artist.

Alasdair began taking classical violin lessons at the age of eight, enduring much teasing and leg-pulling from fellow school pupils at a time when carrying a fiddle case around was considered far from cool. Undeterred, he persevered and found a love of and natural aptitude for the violin which he applied to the Scottish music that he heard at home – his late father, Bob, and his brother, Iain, both being musicians.

In his teens Alasdair played with dance bands and began gathering the compositions of great fiddling forebears including Niel and Nathaniel Gow, William Marshall and James Scott Skinner into a repertoire that is now vast. Twice winner of the Scottish National Fiddle Championship, he also began to notice the connection between speech patterns and musical expression, especially among Gaels and the Doric speaking players in the north-east, and incorporated this into his fiddle style.

Inclined towards science as well as music at school, Alasdair went on to work as a petrophysicist with British Petroleum, a post that took him to California in 1981 and the realisation four years later, while writing out a fiddle tune during office hours, that he was in the wrong job. He decided to concentrate on music and passing on his passion and skills through programmes such as the Valley of the Moon fiddle camp, which he founded among the Californian Redwoods in 1984 and still directs, the fiddle course that he’s run on the Isle of Skye since 1987, and the more recently established Sierra Fiddle Camp, near his home in California.

As a fiddler equally capable of playing haunting Gaelic airs and rumbustious dance tunes and improvising endless variations on traditional themes, Alasdair has worked in a variety of successful partnerships, including his duos with pianist Paul Machlis and guitarist Tony McManus and his acclaimed band Skyedance. He has also guested with The Chieftains, The Waterboys, Itzhak Perlman and Los Angeles Master Chorale, appeared on innumerable broadcasts including A Prairie Home Companion and CBS TV’s Kennedy Center Honors and performed on film soundtracks including The Last of the Mohicans and Titanic. His compositions have featured in works by the Richmond (Virginia) Ballet and Shiftworks Dance Ensemble and his commissions include Fettercairn Suite.

Since 2003 Alasdair has featured in a duo with cellist Natalie Haas, restoring the wee fiddle and big fiddle partnership that flourished in eighteenth century Scotland to contemporary prominence at the cutting edge of tradition-rooted creativity.

Fraser operates Culburnie Records and is a leading artist on the label. He has founded five summer fiddling programs: the Valley of the Moon fiddle camp in California (begun in 1984), Alasdair Fraser Skye Week - a week-long course on the Isle of Skye (begun in 1987), Sierra Fiddle Camp in California (begun in 2006), Crisol de Cuerda, a Trad strings program in Spain begun in 2008 and Stringmania! - a trad strings program in Australia in 2016.

In December 2011, Fraser was inducted into the into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.

Works for Winds