Teachers 2019



Alasdair Fraser ▪ Begoña Riobo ▪ Ryan McKasson
Hanneke Cassel ▪ Deby Grosjean ▪ Laura Risk ▪ Janette Duncan

Xosiño Liz ▪ Colin Cotter

Natalie Haas ▪ Valerie Thompson

Nic Gareis ▪ Erik Hoffman

Xisco (Javier Feijoo)


Cali McKasson

Laura Cortese


Galen Fraser ▪ TBA

Fiddle Classes

Fiddle classes are scheduled in the morning and early afternoon and allow participants to study the various styles taught by each instructor. All tunes are taught by ear, and class divisions, ranging from advanced to those who have never played before, are based on students’ rate of learning by ear.

Alasdair Fraser is recognized throughout the world as one of the finest fiddle players Scotland has ever produced; [his] name is synonymous with the vibrant cultural renaissance which is transforming the Scottish musical scene.” —Scots Magazine

The variety and expressivity of Alasdair’s playing is evident in his numerous recordings—from intimate fiddle/guitar duets, to a more contemporary interpretation of tradition, to high energy original tunes with his Skyedance band. Highly acclaimed albums include “Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Vols. 1 and 2,” and “Fire and Grace, ” which was named Scots Trad Album of the Year for 2004. Most recently, “In the Moment” reveals his expanding interests and inspiration as both player and composer. In Alasdair’s class, you will learn a variety of Scottish tune types and how to use special bowings, Scottish ornaments and a rhythmic drive to make the tunes come alive and express their Scottish origins.

Begoña Riobo Es la violinista por excelencia del panorama folk gallego, comienza su trayectoria profesional en el año 2000 formando parte de la banda del gaitero Carlos Núñez durante una etapa que la llevó a pisar teatros y festivales a lo largo y ancho de los cinco continentes y tocar con primeras figuras del panorama folk, entre los que cabe citar a The Chieftains, Dan Ar Braz, Sharon Sahnon, o Solas; y participar en distintos trabajos discográficos entre ellos “Carlos Nuñez e Amigos” (Sony 2004) Premio de la Música al mejor disco de música tradicional 2005. Es miembro de la orquesta folk de Galicia “Sondeseu” , ha colaborado en giras con los siguientes artistas, Lizgairo, Anxo Lorenzo, Susana Seivane, y Xosé Manuel Budiño. Lidera su propia formación: Riobó, con la que ha editado dos trabajos discográficos: “Riobó” (Zouma 2010) y “Quiral” (Sul 2015). Imparte cursos volcados en la enseñanza del violín en el campo de la música tradicional destacando la participación el “Crisol de Cuerda” el único Fiddle Camp que Alasdair Frase y Natalie Haas organizan en España, o el San Simón Fiddle, campamento de verano orientado a jóvenes violinistas y organizado por la asociación Galicia Fiddle. Es profesora de arpa céltica en la Escuela Municipal de música folk y tradicional de Vigo ETRAD.

Ryan McKasson has gained a reputation as a performer, composer, collaborator, and teacher. In 1996 he was the youngest person to win the National Scottish Fiddle Championship. In 1997 he was awarded a Merit Scholarship for Viola Performance from the University of Southern California where he studied with Donald McInnes.

Hanneke Cassel's approach to music is aptly expressed in the title of her debut album, "My Joy." Alasdair Fraser characterized the album as "…fiddle music played with great stylistic integrity and personal flair…" Hanneke's second album, "Some Melodious Sonnet," released in 2004, contains a variety of her own compositions, some hauntingly melodic, others exuberantly energetic. Hanneke has immersed herself in the music of Scotland and Cape Breton for many years and has won three U.S. National Scottish Fiddling championships. She is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music.

Laura Risk is a fiddler whose love of the music of Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton and Quebec has led her into a rich journey of performing and teaching. Laura is known throughout the U.S. as an outstanding teacher, able to inspire students at any level. As evidenced in several highly praised albums, her playing is especially expressive and versatile, ranging from elegant music composed for 18th century Scottish drawing rooms to driving strathspeys and reels suitable for a Cape Breton dance floor. The eloquence of Laura’s fiddling is especially evident is her album of Scottish tunes, “2000 Miles,” To help fiddlers learn new tunes by ear, Laura has recorded two sets of CDs containing nearly 150 tunes from a variety of fiddle traditions, played slowly and at normal performance tempo.

Deby Benton Grosjean combines the best of both the Celtic and classical music worlds in her playing and teaching. She’s experienced in teaching all levels and delights in exploring the adventures a new instrument brings for young beginners. Locally, she teaches with Community Music School and helped create Cabrillo Youth Music. Deby plays for several dance bands including Scottish Country “Reel of Seven”, with her local students Barn Dance “The Ginormous String Band” and Contra “Whoost”.

Deby’s film score credits include Ken Burns’ Not for Ourselves Alone. She records for Gourd Music and her own productions. Deby coaches dance combos in Canada, New Zealand and USA. Connection Magazine notes of her Beyond the Shore CD, “. . . will capture your heart and dance your feet.” She has published with Mel Bay and her own Fun Celtic Music Series with companion CD.

Janette Duncan (BA, Music) has benefited from both classical violin training and a fiddling heritage. Her grandfather was a fiddler and her dad a guitar player. Janette’s own fiddling has been particularly influenced and inspired by Bengt Johnson and Alasdair Fraser. She has herself inspired a great many players through her performances—as a member of the Bi-Coastal International Dance Band, Dockside and other ensembles—and her teaching, including beginning string classes in schools, a community college course she teaches on “Celtic Session Tunes,” and private instruction at home in Sonoma County, California. Her students are encouraged to learn to read and write music but also play the fiddle by “ear and heart.”

Janette will teach the basic beginning fiddle class for adults who have little or no experience with the instrument.


Colin Cotter is a multi-instrumentalist who began fiddling at an early age as part of his family tradition in Finnish fiddle music, and eventually dove into Scottish fiddling. He is a self-taught guitarist, mixing influences from around the world, and his emotive songwriting bridges the gaps between American and Celtic folk, and rock.

Xosé Liz (flute/guitar/bouzouki) is one of the most active musicians among Galician folk scene. Producer, composer and arranger, he masters plucked string instruments and flutes. He is instructor for these instruments at traditional music academy “e-Trad” in Vigo. He was founder musician of important galician bands in the 90’s such as Beladona, Entretrastes, Lizgairo and Riobó and, he collaborates with internationally known Galician artists such as Uxía, Rodrigo Romaní, Cristina Pato or Anxo Lorenzo.


Natalie Haas began performing with Alasdair Fraser when she was in high school, continuing to do so while studying cello at Juilliard. Since she began teaching at Celtic Connections in Glasgow and VOM in 2002, various music camps and festivals have been eager to engage her, and she has been recognized in her own right. Her album with Alasdair, “Fire and Grace,” was named Scots Trad Music Album of the Year for 2004. She and Alasdair followed that with a second duo album, “In the Moment”, containing mostly original tunes, including Natalie’s tune, “Between”. Natalie’s powerful and rhythmic playing make it easy to understand why Alasdair says, “In 18th century Scotland, the fiddle and cello were the dance band of choice.”

In Natalie’s class you will learn bowing techniques, ornamentation, bass lines and rhythmic techniques to suit the style and mood of a variety of music, including the tunes the fiddlers are learning.

Valerie Thompson: a graduate of the Berklee School of Music, Valerie is a well-rounded musician who is comfortable in any playing situation. She divides her time between a very active cello studio, performing regularly with Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards, writing music and performing with Goli (a Cello/Marimba/Vocal ensemble), and attending a plethora of weddings and events for C-Zone Music. Valerie grew up in Kansas City, MO and now resides in Central Square, Cambridge, MA.

Piano Classes

Piano classes are designed for those who already have a knowledge of basic chords on the instrument and the ability to change chords with some facility. There are no beginning classes in piano.

Cali McKasson has performed with fiddle greats Alasdair Fraser, Andre Brunet, Laura Risk, and Hanneke Cassel. "[Her] keyboards are dynamically percussive and evocative." (The Boston Globe) "Throughout the album the fragile piano playing of Cali McKasson . . . lovingly calms the thunderous attack of her bandmates." (Whisperin' and Hollerin')


Jens Linell is the percussionist with Swedish/Norwegian band Sver, a group of "self-proclaimed Scandinavian party musicians [who] bring together traditions from Norway and Sweden to brilliantly playful effect." While exploring the complexities of Swedish traditional music as a music student, he developed his unique style of tambourine playing.


Laura Cortese: Berklee College of Music graduate Laura Cortese's highly-visible work as a supporting musician (fiddle, vocals, and bass) includes appearances with Band of Horses, Pete Seeger, Rose Cousins, Uncle Earl and as part of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden. With seven studio albums to her credit, Laura's Compass Records debut, "California Calling," is the next step in her career as a fiddler, singer, frontwoman and songwriter.  Her performances and recordings have garnered acclaim from BBC, fRoots, No Depression, the Boston Globe, the Denver Post,  and the Bluegrass Situation, among others. Her band, the Dance Cards, has twice served as U.S. State Department cultural ambassadors, performing, presenting workshops, and collaborating with musicians in India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Estonia, Montenegro and Greece.

Laura teaches fiddle and singing internationally at Newcastle University in England, and University of Limerick in Ireland and has given fiddle, song, and dance instruction at many summer fiddle camps, including Alasdair Fraser's Valley of the Moon Fiddle School, Mark O'Connor's Nashville Fiddle Camp, the Sierra Fiddle Camp, and Folkworks Youth Summer School in Newcastle, UK.  Laura is also co-founder of the acclaimed Miles of Music Camp and BCMFest, a community festival organized by Boston-area musicians, singers and dancers. 



Nic Gareiss has been hailed by the New York Times for his "dexterous melding of Irish and Appalachian dance" and called "the most inventive and expressive step dancer on the scene” by the Boston Herald. He re-imagines movement as a musical practice, recasting dance as medium that appeals to both eyes and ears. Originally from Michigan, Gareiss draws from many percussive dance traditions, weaving together a dance technique facilitating his love of improvisation, traditional dance footwork vocabulary, and musical collaboration.

He has concertized in fourteen countries for over ten years with many of the luminaries of traditional music, including Alasdair Fraser, Natalie Haas, Frankie Gavin, Dervish, Bill Frisell, Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky, Phil Wiggins, Buille, Solas, Liz Carroll, Martin Hayes, The Gloaming and The Chieftains. Nic holds degrees in Anthropology and Music from Central Michigan University and a MA in Ethnochoreology from the University of Limerick. Gareiss' essay, "An Buachaillín Bán: Reflections on One Queer's Performance within Traditional Irish Music & Dance" appears in the book "Meanings and Makings of Queer Dance" edited by Clare Croft in Oxford University Press.

Erik Hoffman spends his time calling Old-Time Country Dancing, playing music (fiddle, guitar, voice, mandolin, bodhran, and other odds and ends), and tutoring math. He also loves leading dances for families and children.