Artist Profiles: Hanneke Cassel

Hanneke Cassel

Raised on the Oregon Coast, Hanneke Cassel began playing violin at eight years-old, but a local fiddle competition inspired her to take up traditional fiddling. A few years later, at fourteen years old, she entered a Scottish fiddle contest, winning the national title. Years later, after numerous trips to Scotland, and studies with the great fiddlers Alasdair Fraser and Buddy MacMaster, she moved to Boston and enrolled at the Berklee College of Music. Going to Berklee in the early days of their groundbreaking strings program, Hanneke has since been at the forefront of a national fiddling revival, helping define the instrument for a new generation.

As a fiddler, Hanneke’s sound is a blend of Scottish and Cape Breton traditions, as well as some early roots in Texas fiddling. But she also draws heavily on experiences working with street kids in Kenya (many of the songs were commissions for them), her numerous trips to China (she lived and taught in Shanghai for a while), and her friends and relationships built around the scene in Boston.

In 214 she released Dot the Dragon’s Eyes, where she is joined by cellist Rushad Eggleston fiddler/violist Jeremy Kittel, cellist Mike Block (her husband), and New England guitarist Keith Murphy. The album also includes vocals from Aoife O’Donovan.

In addition to her solo act, Hanneke tours regularly with Baroque/Celtic group Ensemble Galilei, and has performed with the Cathie Ryan Band, Cherish the Ladies, Alasdair Fraser, and Matt Glaser and the Wayfaring Strangers. She is an active member of Boston-based band Childsplay (featuring over 2 fiddles made by Bob Childs) and co-founder (with Laura Cortese and Lissa Schneckenburger) of Celtic female band Halali.

She teaches regularly at Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon and Sierra Fiddle Camps, Boston Harbor Fiddle Camp, and the Club Passim School of Music.

Hanneke’s awards include1992 and 1994 U.S. National Jr. Scottish Champion, 1996 Berklee U.S. Scholarship Tour Award, 1996 Oregon State Texas-style Grand Champion 1997 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, 1998 Berklee College of Music Strings Award, and 28 USA Songwriting Contest (1st place Instrumental and 3rd place Overall).

Discography

The Wee Hours: Future of Scottish Fiddling in America (Gargoyle Records, 1998)
Diary of a Fiddler, with Darol Anger (Compass Records, 1999)
My Joy (Cassel Records, 2001)
Many Happy Returns (Cassel Records, 2003)
Halali, with Halali (Footprint Records, 2003)
Some Melodious Sonnet (Cassel Records, 2004)
The Farthest Wave, with Cathie Ryan (Shanachie, 2005)
Silver (Cassel Records, 2006)
In the Moment, with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas (Culburnie Records, 2007)
From the Edge of the World, with Ensemble Galilei (2007)
Calm the Raging Sea, with Christopher Lewis (Cassel Records, 2007)
Notes From Across The Sea, with Ensemble Galilei (Ann Mayo Muir, 2009)
Waiting for the Dawn, with Childsplay (Childsplay Records, 2009)
For Reasons Unseen (Cassel Records, 2009)
Dot the Dragon’s Eyes (Cassel Records, 2013)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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