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Scotland in music

Reviews by Edward Scott Pearlman

Silhouetted against the glow of dawn, Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser lifts both arms in triumph, fiddle in one hand, bow in the other. This image on the cover of Dawn Dance proclaims the joy of Fraser's music, from the pulsing traditional Gaelic melodies to the smooth, powerful strathspeys. Even the stirring lamentations are filled with the joy of hearing rich tones from a well-played violin.

The cover of Dawn Dance could also be the image of a victorious prizefighter – the champion of Scottish traditional music who has proved that this centuries-old music is very much alive. Or a champion of the arts who has delivered a blow to people's fear of doing what they love for a living.

Alasdair Fraser grew up in a musical family in Clackmannan in central Scotland. His brother plays and teaches fiddle, his father played pipes and his grandfather helped found the nearby Stirling Strathspey and Reel Society in 1930. Alasdair has appeared in more than 150 TV and radio programs worldwide, played on hit film soundtracks and performed as a guest with top classical and folk groups. He currently tours the world with cellist Natalie Haas.

Seeing Alasdair Fraser in action today, as he plays fiddle with power and authority, flawless tone and control and a deeply rooted Scottish style, you might not imagine him to have been a quiet child who most enjoyed the predictable logic of science and math.

The full text of this column is available in the Winter 2011 issue of Scottish Life.

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Click here to preview our column on Bens & Glens & Heroes, News from Scotland.

Click here to preview our reviews of Scottish Books.