PORTLAND – Over the last decade, fiddler extraordinaire Natalie MacMaster has gone from the dance halls and traditional Scots-Irish music ceilidhs of her Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to critical acclaim on folk, world and pop music stages around the globe.

Tuesday, March 17, MacMaster and her band will return to Merrill Auditorium for a rollicking Saint Patrick’s Day celebration featuring high-energy Celtic music and step dancing. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m.

A longtime Maine and PCA Great Performances favorite, MacMaster has taken the traditional sounds of her homeland in new directions while always staying true to the music’s deep-seated Celtic roots.

A MacMaster concert is part kitchen party, part traditional music and storytelling session (ceilidh) and part high-stepping dance hall charm. She and her band explore her cultural roots, tinged with bluegrass, pop and jazz. MacMaster’s bandmates are Mac Morin, piano and step dance; Matt MacIsaac, pipes, whistles and banjo; J.D. Blair, drums; and Nathaniel Smith, cello.

The niece of legendary Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster, Natalie first picked up the fiddle at age 9. She quickly became a lauded talent in her own right, earning numerous awards for her early traditional recordings. Branching out from her roots to embrace country, pop, and global influences, she quickly won kudos on the Celtic and world music circuits, picking up honors for Best Female Artist and Best Roots/Traditional Recording from Canada’s East Coast Music Awards along the way. In July 2006, MacMaster became one of the youngest people ever named a member of the prestigious Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honor.

MacMaster’s live performances are renowned for their energy and rhythmic intensity. She has shared stages with Santana, The Chieftains, Paul Simon, Faith Hill, Don Henley, Luciano Pavarotti and numerous symphony orchestras.

PCA Offstage, the education and community outreach arm of PCA Great Performances, will present a free preperformance lecture prior to the concert featuring Lewis MacKinnon, head of Nova Scotia’s Office of Gaelic Affairs. An informal talk, he will discuss the origins and extent of Gaelic culture in Nova Scotia and share insights into Gaelic music, stories, humor and song. The lecture will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Merrill Auditorium rehearsal hall.

MacMaster’s concert is part of PCA Great Performances’ 2008-09 Traverser La Frontière series featuring performances focused on Canadian artists in children’s theater, dance and music and their connections with Maine.

Go and do

WHO: Fiddling superstar Natalie MacMaster

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 17

WHERE: Merrill Auditorium in Portland

TICKETS: $42, $36, $30. Available through PortTix, the box office at Merrill; by calling 842-0800 and at www.pcagreatperformances.org


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