Catherine Fraser
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Catherine Fraser

Meadows, South Australia, Australia

Meadows, South Australia, Australia
Band Folk Celtic


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"Rhymes & Reasons"

Rhymes and Reasons
Catherine Fraser & Duncan Smith

Scottish Fiddle is quite unique in it’s style and it has to be acknowledged that there are many
fine exponents around the world. Catherine Fraser must surely be considered to be among
the elite.
Rhymes and Reasons is an album where perfection was non-negotiable and I’m not just
referring to the fiddle playing. The recording, the production and of course the accompanying
musicians, all contribute in making this album truly outstanding. There are no surplus
components in this recording, a trap which many musicians fall into once they get into the
studio. The impressive list of musicians that Catherine associates with are testament in itself
that she has achieved credibility within the Scottish Fiddle genre. These are more than just
hired guns, they provide sensitive yet solid ground on which Catherine is able to take the
listener in the direction she dictates.
Of the 11 tracks on Rhymes and Reasons there are 4 of Fraser’s original compositions and
they blend seamlessly with the more traditional material. The one slight departure would be
the final track ‘Raoghull agus Cairistine’ which incorporates some elements of world music
percussion. For me, this was a nice touch to finish the album on.
Instrumental albums aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and therefore the market can be somewhat
limited. However, for lovers of all things Scottish this will stay on the CD player for some time.
Pete Titchener 2009
- The Adelaide Review

"Rhymes & Reasons"

Review by the Daily Planet – Lucky Oceans

Rhymes and Reasons is a beautiful CD of Scottish instrumentals by fiddler Catherine Fraser and pianist Duncan Smith, with guest appearances by cellist Natalie Haas and guitarist Tony McManus.

Recorded in Montreal, Canada, the album represents a quantum leap forward for the Australian-based duo. Catherine trained classically but started to expore the music of her heritage from the age of 15. Duncan was born in Boston where he was a harpsichordist, guitarist and harmonica player in a rock band, and a member of a medieval music choir. Meeting in a dance band, Catherine and Duncan realised their musical approaches were similar in the way they looked beyond the notes to access the emotional experiences of the music. They began performing together in 2001. This is what said of them, ‘..superb, clear & elegant....just how Scottish music should sound.’

- The Daily Planet


Imagine if you will the music of Alasdair Fraser, Chris Stout, and perhaps Ian Hardie, all transported to Australia and absorbed by a young fiddler of Scots descent and classical training, and you might begin to understand where Catherine Fraser is coming from. Whether she's playing The Laird of Drumblair or her own tune The Dancer on the Deck, Catherine's fiddle is sweet and true. She has a knack for composing and interpreting slow airs: there are seven in the twelve tracks here, five by Ms Fraser and one in a medley of William Marshall tunes. Cromarty was written for Catherine's home near Adelaide, and it's a beautifully simple melody. Jeasidh's Tune is totally different, a swingy waltz for a young cousin. Farewell to Grey Street and Sunrise Departed are somewhere between the two, both lovely tunes. My Heart's Despair, like Marshall's Chapel Keithack, is altogether grander with a hint of chamber music.

Duncan Smith's contribution to Unity is easier to describe: a trained pianist, he took to Scottish music and dance like a highlander to whisky. His composition The Hardie is the seventh slow air, a moody minor minuet, followed by an old English 3/2 hornpipe. Add to that his rock-solid accompaniment on reels and jigs, and more than a few tasty touches elsewhere, and this duo make a powerful team. They pour out strathspeys and hornpipes, old reels and new, Miss Wharton Duff and Lord Saltoun's, Fraser compositions Fiddlers in the River and Chanonry Walk. If there's a weak point, it's the jigs: but that's only in comparison with Catherine's mastery of all other tempos. An outstanding fiddler, she has a rare grasp of Scottish dance music. Unity and two previous Fraser-Smith recordings are available from, with European distribution through Highlander Music.

Alex Monaghan - The Living Tradition

"Rhymes & Reasons"

From Australia, Catherine Fraser plays Scottish fiddle like a native and Duncan Smith adds sensitive keyboards. This is their fourth recording together, and continues the combination of old dance tunes with modern compositions from Catherine and others. The reels, jigs and strathspeys set my toes tapping, and the slower pieces are beautifully played. They open with a varied quartet of jigs including William Marshall's 18th-century masterpiece Miss Gordon of Park and Tony Sullivan's modern classic The Butlers of Glen Avenue, and they follow up with the first of three slow airs by Catherine: The Hills of Kaitoke, a really gorgeous melody. Another Sully tune The Roaring Barmaid makes an appearance later, in a set of three new jigs which ends with Ian Lowthian's catchy Return to the Stewartry. _Catherine and Duncan are joined by some well-known guests: cellist Natalie Haas, fiddler Hanneke Cassel, percussionist Eric Breton, and guitarist Tony McManus who works his magic on the slow strathspey Rothiemurchis' Rant. Natalie leads into The Kirrie Gem, another of Catherine's beautiful airs. There are two more notable slow pieces before the finish, a lovely arrangement of This Ae Nicht and Catherine's tune Dancing with George which hints at gutsy double-stopping but stays light and airy throughout. Skipping past a couple of tasty reel sets, we come to the final fling: a flirtation with electronic music, nothing too outrageous, recalling Alasdair Fraser's 1987 album The Road North. In fact, there are quite a few echoes of Alasdair's playing on Rhymes & Reasons - not entirely surprising, as this CD was produced by Alasdair's pupil Laura Risk. The sweet tone on Donald Don of Bohunting and the combination of playfulness and drive on Kissing is the Best of A' clearly show the Fraser resemblance: I can't think of a higher compliment. Heartily recommended, and her website has more information. _www.catherinefraser.com_Alex Monaghan

- Folkworld

"Rhymes & Reasons"

Rhymes and Reasons stars Australians Catherine Fraser and Duncan Smith, on fiddle and piano respectively, showing why they are revered world-wide – the album was actually recorded in Quebec, Canada. Featured friends include, from the USA, Natalie Haas on cello and Hanneke Cassel on fiddle, Eric Breton from Nova Scotia on percussion and Scot Tony McManus on guitar. There is a limpid elegance about the playing throughout this collection, which is bound to find favour from Forfar to Fremantle. Precisely executed and a joy to listen to. - The Scots Magazine


Presence, 2003
Old Favorites and Odd Couples 2005
Unity, 2006 (consistent airplay on ABC Classic FM)
Rhymes & Reasons, 2009



'Revered world wide...and a joy to listen to."
The Scots Magazine, UK

Attending a Catherine Fraser concert is like being taken on an emotional rollercoaster ride. From the haunting, heart wrenching sounds of gaelic airs, to the exhuberant, footstomping rhythms of the wildest reels, you will find yourself in the centre of a unique musical experience.
Who would have thought songs without words could be so powerfully emotive?

"Catherine Fraser confirmed her reputation as one of the Southern Hemisphere's leading Scottish fiddlers." NZ Folk

Winner of the 2010 Golden Fiddle Award for Best Soloist in Australasia, Scots/Australian fiddler Catherine Fraser has gained a reputation as a world-class performer and teacher, and presents the music of her heritage with finesse, passion and sensitivity.

Constantly in demand for concerts and workshops and acknowledged for her ability to combine a high level of technical skill with a rare depth of emotional expression, Catherine has gained the respect of audiences and students alike.

She is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, including Open Fiddle Champion, Kirriemuir, Scotland 2005, and the South Australian Music Industry Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Folk Music, 1996, 1997

As a duo with pianist Duncan Smith, she has given performances in Scotland, Canada, North America, New Zealand and of course around Australia.

Recently Catherine and Duncan have joined forces with talented guitarist Bill Grose and cellist Emma Luker to form the Catherine Fraser Quartet. Making their debut performances at the National Celtic Festival in 2010 this line up proved to be one of the most popular acts at the festival, performing to capacity audiences.

With invitations to perform in the USA, New Zealand and Japan in 2010 and 2011, Catherine continues to make new fans around the world.

Some other recent career highlights include:

Concerts and workshops, UK and Germany 2010
Teacher at the National Folk School, ACT, Australia 2009
Performer at the National Folk Festival, ACT, Australia 2009
Performer, Jean Patrick Memorial Dance, California, USA 2008
Presenter, NZ String Teachers Workshop, Napier, New Zealand 2008
Performer, National Celtic Festival, Victoria, Australia 2008
Guest teacher, Boston Harbor Fiddle School, Massachusetts, USA 2007
Presenter and performer, National String Teachers Conference, QLD, Australia 2006
Performer and teacher at the Scots Fiddle Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland 2006

Catherine is the Director of the Southern Hemisphere International School of Scottish Fiddle, a week long camp held annually in New Zealand, dedicated to the promotion of Scottish Fiddle music, and aimed at players of all ages and ability levels. For all the details visit

"..the rhythmic drive of her fiddling carries the performance."
The Canberra Times

"An outstanding fiddler, Catherine has a rare grasp of Scottish dance music..and she has a knack of composing and interpreting slow airs. "
The Living Tradition Magazine, UK