NORTH CREEK - From soft, melodic tones of sorrow, to vigorous trill ridden crescendos of celebration, the Scottish fiddle and cello concert sponsored by the Upper Hudson Musical Arts Incorporation Thursday, April 2 at the Tannery Pond Community Center had the power to drive the audience into frenzied foot-stomping and moments of deep reflection.
"There is no difference between the violin and the fiddle except for a state of mind," world-renowned fiddler Alasdair Fraser said. "For centuries people have been creating music by dragging the tail of a horse over the intestines of a cat."
For nearly two-hours, Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas took listeners on a journey through time and space as they played pieces ranging from 17th century celebratory dance-tunes to somber Scottish funeral tributes.
"The cello has been held captive by western symphonies for centuries," Fraser said. "The rhythmic soul of the cello was held captive with it."
No percussion was required, as Haas frequently entered fits of rhythmic sting plucking which defined the beat, before again dragging her bow across the strings to produce sweet tones that stood as the foundational harmony for the fiddle driven melody.
"The fiddle is a multi-lingual instrument," Fraser said. "In classical, you typically hear the German, Italian or Russian language - tonight we are speaking in Scottish."
From the very first tune, on-lookers couldn't contain the urge to stomp their feet with the oft driving beat. At points, the entire seating section shook as over 100 local residents stomped - overcome by the powerful endorphin release that accompanies the well-played musical drug.
"It always amazes me how a Western audience will sit for hours listening to wildly exciting dance tunes," Fraser said to the crowed. "I need you to all stand up so I can teach you the basics of Scottish step-dancing."
At this point, the crowed stood, and with varying degrees of success proceeded to enthusiastically step-dance - ending it with a pronounced grunt.
The fiddle and cello concert was part of an on-going series of events sponsored by the UHMA - with shows continuing throughout the summer.
Anyone interested in finding information about upcoming shows can visit the association website at upperhudsonmusic.org.