The Mainstay at the Garfield
The lively Celtic music of Nova Scotians Cassie and Maggie will fill the Garfield Center for the Arts in a concert co-sponsored by The Mainstay and The Garfield Center for the Arts, on Sunday, November 12th at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at www.garfieldcenter.org, over the phone by calling 410-810-2060, or in person at the Garfield Center box office. The box office and theatre are located at 210 High Street in Chestertown.
Nova Scotian sisters Cassie and Maggie have been lighting up the world with their unique blend of traditional and contemporary Celtic instrumentals and vocals. Appearing on stages across North America, the UK, and Europe, the sisters have enchanted audiences far and wide with lively fiddle, piano and guitar arrangements, stunning sibling vocal harmonies in both English and Gaelic, all complemented by their intricate and percussive step dancing style.
Born to a family with a rich musical heritage and raised in Nova Scotia’s musical culture and traditions, Cassie and Maggie MacDonald have used their unique upbringing as a springboard for their own brand of Celtic Roots music. The music is anchored by the powerful, lively fiddling of elder sister Cassie and the beautiful piano work, guitar and clear vocals of her younger sister Maggie. Both are accomplished step dancers.
This year they have gained even greater recognition in Canada as they have topped the list of Canadian Folk Music award nominees with nominations for Ensemble of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, Traditional Album of the Year, and Traditional Singer of the Year (Maggie), all for their newest release, “The Willow Collection”. They will perform at the Gala awards ceremony to be held on Ottawa Nov 19th. They also received nominations for Entertainers of the Year, Group Recording of the Year and Roots/Trad Album of the Year this year’s Music Nova Scotia Awards held the first weekend in November in Truro, NS.
This is the kind of family music that has always fueled the Maritimes, and there’s a very real closeness and joy in this music that can only come from siblings making music together. They are equally at home playing tunes passed down through generations of musicians, seamlessly weaving a theme from the Moonlight Sonata into a set of sure-fire reels or bringing a breath of fresh air with their original compositions and arrangement, all the time managing to stay true to their Celtic roots while exploring and testing the boundaries of traditional music.
They started at the ages of five and six as Highland Dancers in Nova Scotia but didn’t start playing music until they were nine or ten. As their music has developed, dance has remained an important part of their shows. Cassie says, “Step dance has a really interesting tradition in Nova Scotia, because it is almost like another instrument. Step dancers are really regarded as musicians … They know which steps will fit well with each particular tune and they almost have a bigger repertoire than a fiddle player would. It’s really incredible to watch the old dancers. They really interpret the tune through their feet.”
Their extensive touring schedule has included appearances at festivals and concerts throughout North America and in Europe. When asked about how their shows in Canada differ from their shows in the US, Cassie MacDonald said, “We play a lot down here and we always try and give a little background—more than we would do if we were playing Canada, giving a history of the music and telling people the origins of it. … There’s a very rich tradition of music being passed down from generation to generation, and we always like to include a few of those anecdotes.”