Sierra Fiddle Camp Staff 2018

Teaching Staff 2018
Scotland ▪ US ▪ Shetland

Alasdair Fraser ▪ Bruce Molsky ▪ Kevin Henderson
Hanneke Cassel ▪ Deby Grosjean ▪ Laura Risk ▪ Janette Duncan


Conor Hearn ▪ Eamon Sefton


Natalie Haas ▪ Joel Cohen ▪ Aria DiSalvio ▪ Erin Esses

Allison de Groot


Summer McCall ▪ Phil Jamison

Laura Cortese


Neil Pearlman

Galen Fraser

Elias Alexander

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

Renowned performer and master teacher of the rich fiddling tradition of Scotland, Alasdair inspires us to higher and deeper levels of self-expression within an embracing community of listeners, learners and like-minded folk. 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. Recent, 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. In Alasdair's class, you will learn a variety of Scottish tune types and how to use special bowings, ornaments and a rhythmic drive to make the tunes come alive.

Kevin Henderson comes from the Shetland Islands, one of Scotland´s archipelagos with one of the richest fiddle traditions in the world.

He is regarded as one of Shetland's finest fiddle players and is in hot demand playing with some of the best known groups and musicians in the folk music scene and in addition is a sought after teacher at camps and workshops throughout the world.

He is a founding member of award winning Shetland powerhouse, Fiddlers’ Bid, formed in 1991, has been a member of folk music legends, Boys of the Lough, since 2001, a member of Scottish super group Session A9 since 2004 and co-founded the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc in 2009.

Kevin has toured extensively throughout the world and has performed on TV and radio programmes all over the globe and has featured on many albums over the years.

Bruce Molsky: Grammy-nominated, and “one of America’s premier fiddling talents” (Mother Jones), Bruce's take on tradition has landed him in collaborations with some of the world's most highly respected players from roots to rock. He is a special guest on legend rocker Mark Knopfler’s ​recent CD, “Tracker.” His "1865 Songs of Hope & Home" with Anonymous 4 was on Billboard’s top 10 for weeks; the third record with ​Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny’s supergroup Mozaik ​is in the works. You can see Bruce on the ​BBC TV "Transatlantic Sessions Videos​" with Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas​,​ ​and on “David Holt’s State of Music” airing nationally. His new trio​, Molsky’s Mountain Drifters includes ​b​anjo virtuoso Allison de Groot and genre-defying ​Stash Wyslouch on guitar​. Their self-titled CD has been released to great acclaim and the new one is the works​. Berklee College of Music has made Bruce their Visiting Scholar in the American Roots Music Program where Bruce is the go-to guy for the next generation of roots musicians. 

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.

Cello Classes

Natalie Haas is in the vanguard of young cellists pushing the envelope of the cello while simultaneously carrying it back into the fold of traditional Celtic music. She has graced the performances and recordings of many renowned fiddlers, particularly Alasdair Fraser, with whom she has been performing in the US and Europe for several years. Since she began teaching at Celtic Connections in Glasgow and VOM in 2002, various music camps and festivals have been eager to engage her. Her recent album with Alasdair, "Fire and Grace," was named Scots Trad Music Album of the Year for 2004. Natalie's powerful and rhythmic playing make it easy to understand why Alasdair says, "In18th 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.

Joel Cohen is a Grammy nominated cellist with a passion for unique, genre-bending music. He had his early musical training in the San Francisco Bay area with Irene Sharp and Margaret Rowell. After receiving his B.Mus. from the University of Western Ontario, further studies took him to Holland until his return to the San Francisco Bay area where he served as co-principal cellist with the Oakland Symphony from 1979 to 1985. Cohen lived in Vienna from 1985 to 1997 where he was a principal cellist of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. During those years he also performed with the Vienna Radio Symphony (ORF/RSO), the Wiener Kammeroper, the Wiener Akademie (on period instruments), and Quartett Yggdrasil. He toured extensively throughout Europe and Asia with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and the Johann Strauss Festival Orchestra of Vienna.

After his move to Mendocino County in 2007, CA, Joel began producing concerts that showcase some of his favorite contemporary musicians (including Alastair Frasier and Natalie Haas (Spring 2010) and Oregon (Fall 2011). Joel also performs in the Boston area with "Improvelocity," a group which explores musical collaboration through spontaneous chamber music, creating works in various styles including jazz, fusion, soundscapes and world music.

Aria DiSalvio loves performing with the Santa Cruz Symphony, her contemporary celtic trio One Lane Bridge, and virtuoso mandolinist Ashley Broder.  She recently recorded with Irish singer Eilis Kennedy on the album Westward.  Aria is thrilled to be returning as an instructor to Sierra Fiddle Camp after taking several years off to focus on raising her two children (now 3 and 8).  She also teaches at the Community Music School of Santa Cruz's summer teen and kids camps, as well as giving private cello lessons.

Erin Esses hails from Southern California where she plays and teaches in a variety of different settings and styles. From Celtic to Bluegrass, Rock and Roll to Classical, and Folk to Funk, Erin enjoys it all. Classically trained, she is a graduate of UC Irvine, where she also began dabbling in all kinds of improvisation and playing well with others. She regularly provides live music while looping with her cello for yoga classes. Erin loves to travel with her carbon fiber cello and always looks forward to making it up to the Pacific Northwest. Don't be shocked to find Erin strapped in to her cello, walking around while playing. Erin is a member of the celtic, old-time cello duo Dusty Bows, and also plays and sings in the folky bluegrass band Gone Wayside. 


Conor Hearn is a Celtic and jazz guitar player who grew up studying classical violin and playing traditional Irish music in the sessions of Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C. He currently makes his home in Boston, MA, lending his innovative rhythmic skills to the panoply of groups and projects that are taking shape in the Boston area folk music scene. He has established himself as a cutting-edge Scottish and Irish plaver over the past few years playing with groups like Soulsha, The Galen Fraser Quartet, and TriHearn. While finishing up his degrees in English Literature and Music at Tufts University, he recently began touring with The Mari Black Celtic Band and is leading the charge with his new band, Pumpkin Bread, the latest celtic-chamber-funk juggernaut to emerge from the hive of musicians at Tufts and The New England Conservatory.

Eamon Sefton is a sought-after Celtic-style guitarist from the Boston area. His percussive rhythm and clever use of harmony have made him an ideal guitarist for many traditional musicians around Boston. He cultivated much of his talent at the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School, where he has become a regular guitar teacher. He spent several semesters at Berklee College of Music, where he greatly furthered his understanding of harmony and guitar technique. Most recently, Eamon has been performing with his bands Cat and the Moon, Fresh Haggis and the Bywater Band at places like Club Passim, the Beat Hotel, the Burren, and on WGBH’s A Celtic Sojourn.


Allison de Groot combines love for old-time music, technical skill and a creative approach to the banjo forming her own sound – unique and full of personality. Although firmly rooted in old-time and music, she loves to collaborate and create outside this genre, pushing the boundaries of the clawhammer banjo.

Allison has toured all over the world with various groups, performing at venues such as Newport Folk Festival, Rockygrass, Hardly Strictly, Winnipeg Folk Festival and Tønder Festival. The music scene in her hometown of Winnipeg, Canada, immersion in Appalachian old-time communities, a performance degree at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and touring extensively throughout North America and Europe have all had a great impact on her playing. She is currently performing with Bruce Molsky's new project "Molsky's Mountain Drifters" and "The Goodbye Girls" and "Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves.​"

Dance Class

Phil Jamison is a nationally-known dance caller, old-time musician, and flatfoot dancer. He has called dances, performed, and taught at music festivals and dance events throughout the U.S. and overseas since the early 1970s, including more than thirty-five years as a member of the Green Grass Cloggers. His flatfoot dancing was featured in the film, Songcatcher, for which he also served as Traditional Dance consultant. Over the last thirty years, Phil has done extensive research in the area of Appalachian dance, and his recently-published book Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance (University of Illinois Press, 2015) tells the story behind the square dances, step dances, reels, and other forms of dance practiced in southern Appalachia. Phil teaches mathematics as well as Appalachian music and dance at Warren Wilson College, in Asheville, North Carolina, where for twenty-five years he served as coordinator of the Old-Time Music and Dance Week at the Swannanoa Gathering.

Summer McCall: born and raised the Sierra Nevada mountains, Summer McCall began studying music and dance at the age of five. She has developed into an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and teacher focusing mainly on Celtic cello and fiddle. She has studied domestically and abroad at various music camps in the United States, Scotland and Spain with teachers such as Alasdair Fraser, Natalie Haas, Mike Block, Tristan Clarridge and Rushad Eggelston. Her love for dance has developed through a wide variety of styles such as ballet, modern, middle eastern, Irish and Scottish contra for nearly 20 year. It is with much joy and enthusiasm that Summer holds the position of the official night time dance caller at Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp as well as at other events and festivals throughout northern California.

Song Class

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. 

Percussion/Rhythm: TBA

Piano Class

Neil Pearlman: Multi-instrumentalist, stepdancer and host of podcast TradCafe, Neil Pearlman is a vital and distinctive voice in contemporary traditional music. Described as “a tremendous pianist” on BBC Radio Scotland and “a force to be reckoned with” by WGBH’s Brian O’Donovan, Neil is recognized in many Celtic music circles for his unique approach to the piano. Rooted in traditional Cape Breton piano styles, he adds jazz harmony and the syncopations of funk, Cuban, and Brazilian dance music to create a unique and infectious sound. It was this innovative style that led legendary Cape Breton fiddler Jerry Holland to say “watching Neil’s hands on the piano was like watching two spiders on crack!”

Today Neil's musical projects run the gamut from deeply traditional to refreshingly contemporary. He collaborates regularly with fiddlers Katie McNally, Alden Robinson, Galen Fraser, and Ed Pearlman. He also performs with the larger Afro-Celtic Funk band Soulsha and the quartet Fàrsan, mixing Gaelic song, stepdance, fiddle and pipes.

Ensemble/ Dance Band Guru

Galen Fraser grew up in the foothills of Northern California, where he learned his love for fiddle music from his musical family. At a young age, he began playing yearly with the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers and accompanied them on many tours in California, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. After high school, Galen attended the Berklee College of Music and in 2013 was a winner in the Songs For Social Change competition. Galen now lives joyously in Boston, Massachusetts where he plays with many musicians and bands as well as his own Galen Fraser Trio. Galen's much anticipated debut solo album will be released in Spring 2016.

Piper & Bard

Elias Alexander - piper, fiddler, good-time instigator, party-stirrir-upper - and bard. He throws himself wildly into a number of artistic forms, including music, acting, and poetry. Originally from beautiful Ashland, Oregon, he graduated from Middlebury College in 2013 with an honors degree in music. He also spent significant time there doing environmental studies and theatre. While in Vermont he was winner of the Young Adult category at the Vermont Young Tradition Competition 2013 singing and playing border pipes.




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