Andrea Beaton, Dick Hensold & Dean Magraw
Music from Cape Breton for fiddle, pipes and guitar
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
7:00 PM

The exuberant Celtic music of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island reflects the dance-driven rhythms of the ancient strathspeys, reels and jigs, played with joy and drive on the fiddle, pipes, and guitar.  The fiddle and bagpipes have had a long, close relationship in the Scottish Gaelic communities going back to at least the 18th-century, and this program unleashes the incredible energy of this combination of instruments, varied with traditional Cape Breton step-dance, piano, and Gaelic song. 

Andrea Beaton, “a powerful Cape Breton fiddler, composer and stepdancer”, is one of the most accomplished and well-known fiddlers from the newest crop of Cape Breton musicians. Andrea's lively music is characterized by her powerful bow, the drive and swing of her timing and the crispness of her attack.  Listening to Andrea's music is overwhelmingly uplifting, and she delights audiences wherever she plays. She learned her tradition from her family. Her father, Kinnon, is one of today's most influential Cape Breton fiddlers; her mother, Betty Beaton, is one of the great piano accompanists of her generation. Her late uncle, Buddy MacMaster, was the most revered fiddler on Cape Breton Island, and her cousin, Natalie MacMaster, is an enormously popular entertainer on the fiddle. Her music is at once her own and deeply rooted in the tradition associated with the Mabou Coal Mines in Cape Breton.  She has released 5 solo CDs, one of which won the 2010 East Coast Music Association “instrumental recording of the year” award.

Appearing with Andrea will be Dick Hensold, playing various bagpipes and whistles.  A 2006 Bush Artist Fellow (in traditional music), he is the leading Northumbrian smallpiper in North America, and for the past 20 years has performed and taught in England, Scotland, Japan, Canada, and across the United States. He has studied Cape Breton music with teachers in Halifax since 2005.  His solo Northumbrian smallpipes CD, Big Music for Northumbrian Smallpipes was released in 2007. 

“…Beaton is a force to be reckoned with, a powerful player with great technique and tremendous passion.  She's also a player capable of finding the subtle nuances in every little note and bringing them out.”  —The Guardian, Charlottetown

“Dick Hensold is a master piper with an exquisite touch.” –City Pages, Minneapolis, MN

“Dean Magraw… so liquid, lyrical and effortless it’s like listening to a dancer.” -Steve Tibbetts  

“Dean Magraw unveils soulful melodic grooves intricately designed to heal the broken dancer, confuse the boldest mathematician, and eradicate ennui in our lifetime.” -Nick Lethert

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Joining Andrea and Dick will be guitarist Dean Magraw, a remarkably sensitive and versatile accompanist who has toured across Europe, and toured the US as accompanist to Peter Ostroushko and John Williams.  His playing is also frequently heard on the nationally syndicated radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion”.  Dean's playing is featured on Dick Hensold's recording, Big Music for Northumbrian Smallpipes.      

Cape Breton Island, at the Eastern end of the Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia, was settled about 200 years ago by some 50,000 Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highlanders.  Because of the Highlanders’ isolation, Cape Breton is believed to authentically preserve many aspects of 18th-century Highland Scots Gaelic culture, particularly its music and dance.