Teachers 2019


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

Xosiño Liz ▪ Colin Cotter ▪ Eric McDonald

Natalie Haas ▪ Valerie Thompson ▪ Tristan Claridge

Amy Richter ▪ Chisco (Francisco Feijoo Álvarez)
Nic Gareis ▪ Erik Hoffman

Daniel Steinberg

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: Begoña studied both classical and folk violin, as well as Celtic harp. The quintessential Galician folk violinist, she began her professional career in 2000, performing worldwide with some of the foremost figures of the folk scene.

From 2007 to 2009 she taught at the Department of Music History of the Higher Conservatory of Music of Vigo in Galicia. She also focuses on the violin in traditional music, teaching courses at Festcat in Girona in 2011, and at Crisol de Cuerda from 2011 to 2014.

She’s made multiple recordings, including two with her own group, Riobó. She currently teaches Celtic harp, Instrumental Ensemble, and Ethnomusicology at the Municipal School of Folk and Traditional Music of Vigo.

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 de Cea (flute/guitar/bouzouki) is one of the most versatile and active musicians of the Galician music scene. He coordinates the Requinta section of the Folk Orchestra of Galicia, and is the Requinta and Plucked String Instruments teacher at E-Trad, the Municipal School of Folk and Traditional Music of Vigo. He was a founding musician in important Galician bands of the ninties; nowadays he divides his time between teaching and performing with multiple bands, including with Begoña Riobó Agulla in "Riobó."

Guitar and Mandolin

Eric McDonald has been a professional performer and instructor of traditional and acoustic music for a decade. He attended Berklee College of Music where he studied under world renowned mandolinist & guitarist John McGann, as well as gaining a practical knowledge of music in many styles.

His education continued post Berklee and he soon found a gateway into the realm of traditional music through playing for contra dances. He maintains an active touring schedule, supplemented by recording sessions and a variety of teaching endeavors.


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.

Tristan Clarridge is a multi-instrumentalist who excels at playing every instrument that engages his interest. Five-time Grand National Fiddle Champion, Tristan plays mandolin, cello and guitar and has played with Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings and bluegrass group “Crooked Still”. He performs on fiddle with his sister Tashina in the Bee Eaters, a progressive string band that combines an unusual mix of traditional instruments.

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.

Daniel Steinberg's creative and unorthodox approach to piano backup has made him a fixture in the contra dance scene for over 40 years.  He has appeared in concert with many luminaries of the traditional fiddle, including Joe Cormier, Lisa Ornstein, Jerry Holland, Pete Sutherland, Bertram Levy, Frank Ferrel, Cathie Whitesides, and Laura Risk. Daniel's dynamic flute and piano playing have been featured on albums with the Hillbillies from Mars, Rodney Miller, Mark Simos, and most recently with the Basque-American band Ospa.  He has also performed on keyboard with Afro-pop bands Wazobia and Bole Bantu, on flute with Latin American bands Tierra Vieja and El Tren, and he founded the World Harmony Chorus, a Bay Area community chorus, that he has directed for over twenty years.

Daniel has taught piano at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, and has led countless music workshops at dance camps around the country.

Rhythm, Song and Dance

Amy Richter is a two-time Midwest Fleadh Cheoil champion on the bodhrán. She’s been performing Irish music since 2003 and teaching since 2007. In 2012, Amy joined the faculty of the Junior Davey Bodhrán Academy in County Sligo, Ireland. She’s also taught for the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and The Irish Music School of Chicago. 

In 2005 Amy received the Celtic Studies Certificate from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and was the 2008 recipient of the Ed Ward Irish Music Scholarship. She's studied abroad at the University of Limerick under the direction of Dr.'s Niall Keegan and Sandra Joyce, directors of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. 

Francisco Feijoo Álvarez (Chisco) A bagpiper, singer and dancer, Chisco began studying music and traditional dance in Vigo, later founding the Fiadeiro Cultural and Folklore Association where he provided artistic direction for fifteen years.

In the late nineties he joined the Department of Traditional Music of the School of Arts and Crafts of Vigo, nowadays known as the Municipal School of Traditional and Folk Music of the City Council of Vigo, ETRAD. At that time he was also a presenter for Television Galicia, specializing on the “Restoration of the Music and Traditional Formal Dances of Galicia.”

As a traditional singer he collaborated in multiple recordings; recently, he’s been the vocalist for bagpiper Xosé Manuel Budiño with whom he’s traveled extensively. In addition to his educational work at ETRAD, he coordinates the singing section of, and participates as both singer and dancer with, the Folk Orchestra of Galicia, "SonDeSeu."

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.

Wild Card

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.