Natalie MacMaster_Cape Breton_shares holiday family traditions

26 Nov

Cape Breton Home of our Hearts

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia is the No. 1 island destination in Canada and continental United States, according to Travel and Leisure magazine’s 2011 World’s Best Awards

Canadian fiddler shares holiday family traditions

Cityfolk presents music from ‘the Celtic music capital of North America.’


By Adam Alonzo, Contributing Writer 11:44 AM Saturday, November 26, 2011

Recollections of childhood are often set to the music of memory. For holiday traditions in particular, carols and hymns are remembered just as fondly as food and gifts.

At Cityfolk’s next Celtic concert, Natalie MacMaster will share holiday memories from her own youth.

The popular fiddler and step dancer will present “Christmas in Cape Breton” on Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Dayton Masonic Center.

“We have a lot packed into the show,” said MacMaster. “There are some Christmas carols, of course, and Christmas melodies played on the fiddle, and some traditions I share with the audience of Cape Breton during Christmastime.”

The island of Cape Breton is on the Atlantic coast of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

It leans eastward toward the British Isles, where much of its population and culture originated.

Gaelic is still spoken there, and it is perhaps the Celtic music capital of North America.

“Cape Breton is a very musical island,” MacMaster said. “No matter what house you go to, there’s a fiddle there, guaranteed.”

MacMaster’s mother taught her to dance when she was 5, and her dad began giving her fiddle lessons at age 9. She released her first album when she was 16. Now a multi-platinum recording artist, MacMaster has received the Canadian Juno award and the prestigious Order of Canada, and been nominated for Grammy awards in the United States.

For Sunday’s concert, MacMaster will be joined on stage by Mac Morin (piano), Nathaniel Smith (cello), John Chiasson (bass) and J. D. Blair (drums). Singing during the second half of the program will be the Kettering Children’s Choir.

“We offer a bit of a contemporary edge to some of our tunes, and other tunes are very beautiful and deep and more thought provoking,” MacMaster said. “But for the most part it’s light, happy, joyful music.”

Though MacMaster enjoyed listening to Def Leppard and AC/DC as a girl, she was influenced more by the musical traditions of her own community.

“There are more fiddlers per capita in Cape Breton than anywhere in the world,” MacMaster said. “It was a wonderful way to grow up.”

Adam Alonzo is a contributing writer for the Dayton Daily News. He can be reached by email at

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Posted by on 26/11/2011 in Uncategorized


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