Strathspey and Reel Society Annual Concert | Concord, NH

Cape Breton Duo Highlights 2011 Gala

The turkey, parades, and football games of the holiday weekend provide the perfect prelude to the Strathspey & Reel Society of New Hampshire’s 2011 Gala Scottish Concert on Sunday, November 27. Holiday festivities create just the right atmosphere for Cape Breton fiddlers and step Dancers Andrea Beaton and Kimberly Fraser. This high-energy duo highlights the 23rd annual concert of New Hampshire’s premier traditional Scottish performance group in a concert that has become a yearly tradition for delighted New Hampshire audiences.

Kicking off at 2:30 Sunday afternoon, November 27 at the Concord City Auditorium, the concert stage again welcomes the Strathspey and Reel Society ensemble of fiddles, cellos, accordions, flutes/whistles/recorders, guitars and other instruments. Master of Ceremonies Jeremy Bell will guide the audience through a two-hour program of traditional music, dance, songs, and humor. Past attendees have described this event as “the best thing about the Thanksgiving weekend.”

This year’s Gala guest performers follow in the footsteps of dozens of major masters of the Scottish fiddle from Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. Kimberley Fraser, though still in her 20s, already has had a distinguished career. She has traveled the world, from Victoria to Afghanistan, performing at venues such as The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., bringing Cape Breton music with her wherever she goes. Dan MacDonald of the Cape Breton Post says about Fraser’s versatility, “She has matured to become one of the stellar players of the Cape Breton fiddle tradition, equally at home at a house party, playing for a square dance, or on stage for a concert in Bras d’Or or Boston, Scotsville, or Scotland.” Kimberley has shared the stage with the finest acts in Celtic music, such as Alasdair Fraser, Martin Hayes and Lunasa.

Andrea Beaton’s Cape Breton heritage starts with grandparents Donald Angus and Elizabeth Beaton and parents Kinnon and Betty Beaton, all of who are accomplished musicians. Her uncle Buddy MacMaster and cousin Natalie MacMaster have wowed generations of audiences. Her music is at once her own and deeply rooted in the tradition associated with the Mabou Coal Mines. And, like her father and grandfather, she is a composer in the tradition, adding fine new music to the island’s repertoire. Her first CD, “License to Drive ‘Er,” earned a nomination as Roots Traditional Solo Artist of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards. One recent listener mused about Andrea’s playing, “There’s something indefinable about music’s power to make people move. It’s nearly impossible to talk about it. But you know it when you hear it. And Andrea Beaton has it.”

Amazingly, these two fiddle masters find time to stay sharp with some of the most fantastic step-dance footwork that you will see anywhere in the U.S or Canada. They break into dance mode spontaneously and feed off each other’s energy.

Highland dance, whether a Fling, a Sword dance, or a Lilt, displays the grace and artistry of the Scots. This year’s Gala welcomes back the Highland dancers from the Calder School of Highland dancing. Highland dances may have originally signified a victory in battle, but today they showcase the dexterity and graceful skills of the dancer, and the Calder School’s dancers are some of New Hampshire’s finest.

Jeremy Bell calls himself simply “a man in a kilt.” But his exploits on stage, at whiskey tastings, and corporate events across the country have endeared him to thousands throughout the United States. Jeremy brings an irreverent Scottish sense of propriety, along with his unique brand of humor, to every event he hosts. He will surprise and delight you.

The magic of the 2011 Gala starts the minute you approach your seat this year with a pre-concert audience warm-up by Fellswater, a Boston-based Celtic performance group. Fresh off a turn on the stages of the New Hampshire Highland Games, Fellswater’s lively music will get you in the mood for the whirlwind that follows at 2:30.

Tickets prices for this year’s Gala remain unchanged from previous years and range from $20.00 ($22.00 at the door) to $10.00 ($12.00 at the door) depending on the location within the grand Concord City Auditorium. You can order your tickets here, or by calling (603) 673-5145.