A celebration of Celtic tradition: The 12th annual “Ceilidh in the Park” reels into Nevada City’s Pioneer Park Saturday | TheUnion.com

A celebration of Celtic tradition: The 12th annual “Ceilidh in the Park” reels into Nevada City’s Pioneer Park Saturday

John Deaderick
Special to The Union
(Left to right) Kevin Henderson, Bruce Molsky and Alasdair Fraser are back again this year to teach and participate in the festivities of the Sierra Fiddle Camp.
Photo by Amy Luper


WHO: Sierra Fiddle Camp presents

WHAT: Alasdair Fraser’s Ceilidh in the Park Picnic Concert

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Pioneer Park, 423 Nimrod Street, Nevada City

TICKETS: $20, $10 Children 12 & under and available at The BriarPatch — 530-272-5333, or online at www.stringsconcerts.com

INFO: Visit www.stringsconcerts.com for more information

What’s a “Ceilidh” you ask? It’s a gathering, a celebration, an event and opportunity to bring your authentic self and let it go to speak, sing, fly, play.

A ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) celebrates song and dance and story and togetherness. Derived from an Old Irish word for “the act of visiting,” it’s a time visit old friends and make new ones. It’s the best party you’ll be likely to attend for some time. Until the next ceilidh, that is.

The 12th annual “Ceilidh in the Park” reels into Nevada City’s Pioneer Park at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Not to be missed, this festive celebration serves up the ultimate treat of Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp, a week-long full-on immersion into the musical traditions of the Celtic musical heritage of Europe and North America.

The hugely magnetic Fraser, who embodies the music of his native Scotland, and who “is recognized throughout the world as one of the finest fiddle players Scotland has ever produced” (Scots Magazine), describes a ceilidh as “an evening of madness set to music; a celebration of the ancient urge for human beings to entertain each other!”

Due to his stature as a virtuoso with a big heart, Alasdair is able to bring to town the finest world-class teachers and musicians for the camp and the ceilidh. This year’s experience is no exception, with instruction of the music of Appalachia and its root sources in Scotland, Ireland, and Scandinavia augmented by Grammy nominee Bruce Molsky and Shetland Islander Kevin Henderson among others.

Molsky, “one of America’s premier fiddling talents” (Mother Jones), has an extensive resume which includes working with Mark Knopfler, Joan Osborne, Julie Fowlis, and the amazing group Mozaik. He also serves as the Berklee College of Music’s Visiting Scholar in the American Roots Program.

Recently conversing with Molsky, he said, “I have such great respect for Alasdair. I met him in 1994 on the “Fiddles on Fire” tour. He’s responsible for prodding me toward quitting my day job. Best decision I ever made.”

Kevin Henderson hails from the Shetland Islands, the Scottish archipelago with one of the richest fiddle traditions in the world. Widely regarded as one of the finest Scottish fiddlers, Henderson is in high demand, playing with some of the best-known groups and musicians in the folk music world.

He is a founding member of award-winning Shetland Islands ensemble Fiddlers’ Bid and has been a member of the legendary Boys of the Lough since 2001. Also performing with the groups A9 and Nordic Bloc, Henderson gets around, touring extensively throughout the world.

Fraser’s life-long passion is to bring the joy of music and music making to as many people as possible. His energy is infectious, in the best way. The greatest contemporary carrier of the Scottish fiddle tradition, Fraser exudes technical mastery combined with a human warmth of expression that goes straight to the heart.

His deep understanding of the soul of music makes him more than a traditionalist; as an artist he continually evolves and genre bends in a ceaseless quest to inspire and be inspired. His fiddle camps have become a worldwide phenomenon.

His first camp, The Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle School in Boulder Creek, is in its 35th year. Fraser now also hosts camps in Australia, Spain, Scotland, and this one, right here on the San Juan Ridge.

This incredible concert features The Sierra Fiddle Camp Orchestra which will include the instructors and guest professionals and will be augmented by the camp attendees themselves until the number climbs to over 200 musicians on stage. Now, doesn’t that sound like where you want to be Saturday night?

John Deaderick is a theatre artist and the author of “Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis,” available at Amazon.com.

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