Cape Breton girl charms audience

(Contributed Photo)
(Contributed Photo)

There is an unfortunate reputation, especially among the younger generations, that going to the symphony is dull—this past Friday however, was anything but that.

The K-W Symphony held their annual Gala fundraising event at the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts, featuring the vibrant, Canadian Juno award-winning fiddler Natalie MacMaster. A Beautiful Night with Natalie MacMaster, was just that—a beautiful celebration of the culture and “real, unique and distinct” sounds of MacMaster’s hometown Cape Breton.

In MacMaster’s interview with The Cord, she expressed what it meant for her to be a ‘Cape Breton Girl.’ For her, Cape Breton is not just her hometown; it is the core inspiration for her being and her music.

“Being specifically so Cape Breton stylistically has been such an asset, so I like to sort of keep that association especially now that I am not living there I don’t want to lose that identity especially since because that is so much of who I am,” she said.

This unique Cape Breton attitude and musicality was present as soon as MacMaster walked on the stage. She opened up with Scott MacMillan’s “Tunes a Plenty.” The free spirit and sincerity of her sound had the whole audience grinning widely as they tapped their feet to the warm Celtic sounds emanating off the stage.

MacMaster danced wildly, breaking the conventions of how one would think you are supposed to behave with an orchestra. The members of the symphony seem taken aback by the moonwalking fiddler, but as the performance went on they began to loosen up because of her infectious nature.

However, according to MacMaster, she hasn’t always been the confident performer we see today.

“I’m really shy. Of course, I am not shy anymore, but my natural being would be a person that is quiet,  shy and respectful,” she added.

Though she may have triumphed over her shyness, she has not lost touch of being a respectful performer.

MacMaster never let go of an opportunity to thank and praise the performers on the stage with her, whether that was her band mates’ Èric Breton and Mac Morin or the conductor Evan Mitchell, she had a respect for her collaborators that was so deeply genuine, it was hard not to fall in love with her as a performer.

An unforgettable moment was the duet between MacMaster and concertmaster Jarek Polak who performed “Devil’s Dream.” As the classical violinist picked up his instrument, MacMaster teased how this song shows that “there is no difference between the violin and the fiddle except for a few hundred dollars.”

As the two musicians began to play, it felt as if the classical world and the Celtic world were united as one. Each performer commanded the stage in their distinct stylistic fashion, neither one playing any less passionately than the other.

As the first half came to a close, MacMaster teased the audience asking if we are sick of fiddle music yet. Everyone in the audience could agree that was not the case. From the melodic ballad “If Ever You Were Mine” to Scott MacMillan’s “Stars on the Hill Medley,” each song kept the audience engaged

The second half did not fall short of the first. From the vibrant sounds of “Jessie’s Polka” to the heart wrenching “Anniversay Waltz,” it was clear the captivated audience did not want the evening to end.

As MacMaster, her band and the orchestra played the encore, she encouraged the audience to get off their feet and dance.

There was no objection from the audience as the whole theatre stood up and started dancing and clapping as she danced around the stage fiercely playing her fiddle. The audience roared as MacMaster got off the stage.

In reference to her performance, MacMaster stated, “In this day and age people appreciate something that is so uniquely cultural and real.”

A Beautiful Night With Natalie MacMaster was a confirmation of how much people appreciate this sense of ‘real,’ as MacMaster brought the audience to experience the unique sounds and styles of Cape Breton.

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