Saturday, March 17, 2012

Roving Pittsburgher Review: St. Patrick's Pops with Natalie MacMaster

Roving Pittsburgher Review

St. Patrick's Pops with Natalie MacMaster

Joanne Quinn-Smith

Natalie Mac Master "Cape Breton Girl!"
Sometimes you get busy and just don’t pay attention to things you have really loved in your life.  That’s the case with fiddle music.  Until my friend mentioned that there was a fiddler coming to Heinz Hall that he would really like to hear because he really appreciated talent, I began to investigate.  That’s when I discovered the concert of Cape Breton Island in Canada lass, Natalie Mac Master. Until the first note of the Irish Rhapsody played by the Symphony Pop Orchestra, I did not remember how much I loved fiddle music.   I have a dim memory of square dancing as a teenager but I didn’t recall the fun of real toe tapping fiddle music.
This demur mother of four fiddled and clogged her way into everyone’s heart.  At one point I am sure she sensed that the audience was concerned at her energetic dancing and she joked into her microphone, “Don’t worry, the other four kids have been through this, too.” 
From the stage she compared Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia to Pittsburgh because of both of their by gone histories of coal mining and truly she might have been a girl from Lawrenceville with her down home attitudes. The only airs she put on were those performed with the symphony. (In fiddle music, airs are often played slowly with rubato, and are not dance tunes.)
I had to openly sigh at her rendition of If Ever You Were Mine, a beautiful fiddle tune that lets you know there really is romance in violin and fiddle music.  In the first half of the show, Stratespey and Three Reels played in 4/4 time made you want to get up and dance even though this symphony crowd was a bit sedate for that.  Ms. Mac Master’s encouraged those who wanted to dance and even with an ailing knee I was tempted.
The second half of the show was as delightful as the first and Natalie’s and Mark Huggins, Associate Concertmaster’s duet rendition of The Anniversary Waltz was like being treated to a succulent gourmet meal of ethereally beautiful music.  This is a duet Mac Masters usually performs with her husband, but Huggins playing was certainly up to the challenge.  I was amazed at how seamlessly the two styles of violining or fiddling meshed.  It was interesting to note as Natalie explained that the fiddle and the violin are basically the same instrument except for the price.
The Three Jigs (traditional fiddle tune played in ¾ time) in the second half actually got a few members of the sedate symphony crowd clapping much to the distress of most of the audience.  The ending of each part of the show was the Stars on the Hill Medley and the Carnival Medley both jammed with melodies and airs and jigs and reels and heart awakening music.
Pittsburgh Symphony Pops with Natalie Mac Master has two days left at Heinz Hall, Downtown, St Patrick’s Day at 7 PM and Sunday at 2:30 PM.  Ms Mac Master will also perform with the pops at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in New Castle at 8 PM on Monday.
It’s worth the trip to New Castle if you miss the show in Pittsburgh.

But please, bring open senses, a toe to tap, hands to clap, heads to nod and know that this Cape Breton Lasses music is not sedate.  It is designed to get your heart, soul and whole body to experience the music.  As music changes so much in the 21st century it is hard to find music that is still an “experience” and Natalie Mac Masters and the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops with a seamlessly meshed performance truly is an “experience” not to be missed.

Host of PositivelyPittsburghLive
Internet Radio Talkcast,
Joanne Quinn-Smith

Joanne Quinn-Smith, Good News Reporter and Host of PositivelyPittsburghLive Internet Radio Talkcast and Publisher of Pittsburgh's First Internet Radio and TV Network,  She is also Creative Energy Officer of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, a full service marketing company in Pittsburgh which specializes in Web 2.0 Branding.
(c) Joanne Quinn-Smith 2012

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