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NATALIE MACMASTER AND DONNELL LEAHY PERFORM "MASTERS OF THE FIDDLE" AT GMU'S CENTER FOR THE ARTS
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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE ARTS
NATALIE MACMASTER AND DONNELL LEAHY
“MASTERS OF THE FIDDLE”
Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010 at 8 p.m.
FAIRFAX, Va., Jan. 19, 2010 – “Dual fiddle wizardry … amazing synergy.” (Intelligencer Journal) Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are not only two of the world’s most celebrated fiddlers – they are also husband and wife. Both have appeared at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts – MacMaster in solo performances and Leahy fronting his family group of the same name. Our audience will have the opportunity to witness the fruits of their musical matrimony when this vivacious Canadian couple performs together on the Concert Hall stage on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. The program, titled “Masters of the Fiddle,” features Celtic foot-tapping rave-ups, heart-wrenching ballads and remarkable step dancing that leave audiences breathless. This performance is family friendly, and tickets are half price for youth through grade 12. A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III. Pre-performance discussions are sponsored by the Friends of the Center for the Arts.
A native of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, MacMaster first picked up a fiddle at age 9. The niece of famed fiddler Buddy MacMaster, she quickly became a talent in her own right, known for her masterful blend of Celtic, bluegrass and contemporary acoustic sounds with jazz, rock and classical music. After winning numerous awards for her traditional recordings, she began taking Celtic music to new heights with albums like “In My Hands,” which infused traditional fiddling with elements of jazz and Latin music. She has recorded nine albums, and received a Grammy nomination and two Juno Awards for “My Roots Are Showing” and “In My Hands.” She also recently recorded an album called “Yours Truly” with a song called “Farewell To Peter,” in which MacMaster paid respects to her friend, fan and fellow Canadian, ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings.
The eldest boy in a family of 11 children, Leahy was raised on the family’s beef farm homestead in Lakefield, Ontario, where parents Frank and Julie gave their large brood lessons in fiddle, piano, voice and step dancing. At age 4, a year after he first picked up a fiddle, Leahy was practicing incessantly and began playing competitively. After each child grew into his or her instrument, Leahy and his brothers and sisters formed the band and began playing local dances, parties and weddings. The ensemble first gained attention as the subject of a documentary, “The Leahys: Music Most of All,” which won an Academy Award for Best Student Foreign Film in 1985. In 1998, the group gained international attention when fellow Canadian Shania Twain invited the Leahy family to open her debut world tour. Since then, the band has toured actively, introducing audiences across the globe to their high-energy, thrilling and spellbinding performances. In addition, the band has released four acclaimed CDs, “Leahy,” “Lakefield,” “In All Things” and “Live,” which have sold more than half a million copies worldwide.
Leahy first became aware of MacMaster when he heard a cassette of the young Cape Breton fiddle while his family was on a six-month residency in Europe.
“I met her music first,” Leahy recalls. “We were playing in Germany and one of my sisters had a cassette she would play. I asked her about it, found out she was an 18-year-old girl from Cape Breton. When I heard that style being played by a young girl, she tweaked my interest, and I decided I had to meet her.”
The day Leahy got back to Canada, he got in his car and drove to Cape Breton to meet MacMaster and ask her to dinner.
“I said, ‘I don’t know what you look like. Maybe if you brought your fiddle, I’d know who you were.’ We went out for dinner, played some tunes and the rest is history. As Natalie put it – we dated for two years, broke up for 10 and then got married.”
Today, MacMaster and Leahy live on their farm in Canada raising their three children Mary Frances, Michael Joseph and Clare Marie, and frequently go out on the road to perform.
“Touring has always been a challenge, and with children there are always a lot of logistics to work out,” Leahy explains. “But we want to be together as a family, and we want to play together. Although Natalie’s style is very different from mine, we love the combination. Everything makes sense for us to tour together.”
Tickets for NATALIE MACMASTER AND DONNELL LEAHY are $44, $36, $22. Family Friendly! Youth through grade 12, half price! Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit cfa.gmu.edu. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K. Visit cfa.gmu.edu.
About Great Performances at Mason
Great Performances at Mason is a program of George Mason University's Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). CVPA provides an academic environment in which the arts are explored as individual disciplines and interdisciplinary forms that strengthen one another. The college prepares students for careers as creators, performers, teachers, scholars, arts leaders and arts entrepreneurs. Understanding that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the college, welcomes a variety of professional and world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Students have the opportunity to perform, create and exhibit their work in a wide variety of public venues including a 2,000-seat Concert Hall. CVPA is home to the Schools of Music, Dance and Art, the Department of Theater, as well as the Computer Game Design, Arts Management and Film and Video Studies programs.
About George Mason University
Named the #1 national university to watch in the 2009 rankings of U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country. Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university.