Sierra Fiddle Camp Staff 2020

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.

Guro Kvifte Nesheim is a hardangerfiddle and hardager d'amore  player and composer from Norway, working mostly with traditional and contemporary nordic folk music. She grew up in Oslo, Norway, and started playing the Hardanger fiddle when she was seven years old. She learned the traditional music of Norway from many great Hardanger fiddle players, and won prizes in national competitions for folk music. Guro is also a composer, with a great interest in, and love for the old musical traditions of Norway and Sweden.

After graduating from The Academy of Music and Drama in Gothenburg, Sweden, she worked as a freelance musician with many different groups. Her own band, GKN5, released their debut album "Bestastovo" in 2018 which garnered great reviews. She also plays in the folk rock band "Skrekk & Guro," and in the last few years has toured with Ale Møller, Unni Boksasp Ensemble and Groupa.

Mitch Reed: a Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist, traditional music instructor, and storyteller, Mitch Reed was born in Bayou Vista, Louisiana. When he was 12 he started playing the cello and at 15 began playing the fiddle. Over the years he has built an extensive repertoire and learned an old style of playing which is evident in his sound today.

A traditional music instructor, Mitch offers private lessons, group classes, and online fiddle breakdowns. He has taught at fiddle camps hosted by Jay Ungar, Mark O’Connor, and Louisiana Folk Roots. In addition he has worked with the Smithsonian Institution Office of Folklife Programs in Louisiana schools and at International conferences since 1989.

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.

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.

Joe Mann grew up in Big Sur, CA and now calls Nevada City, CA home. He has played a variety of traditional folk music styles since he began playing the cello at age 10, including Scottish, Irish, Bluegrass and Appalachian Oldtime. In his younger years he also studied classical cello until turning his full focus to rhythm and folk styles as a teenager. A strong improviser, accompanist, and groove specialist, he is at home even in unusual musical settings. He has been singing and writing songs since age 11, and wrote and recorded over 20 original songs and tunes for his senior project in high school. Since then he has continued to hone these skills and is a nimble, honest, and engaging songwriter, performer and teacher as a result. His musical mentors and heros include cello greats Natalie Haas, Rushad Eggleston, Mike Block, Renata Bratt, and Tristan Clarridge, as well as blues legend Robert Johnson, and of course Jimi Hendrix.

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. 


Anthony Rideout is a double bassist currently residing in Chicago, Illinois. Anthony is excited to join Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp as the bass instructor this summer! He is currently the Principal Bass of both the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra and the Knox-Galesburg Symphony Orchestra. Anthony also appears regularly with groups such as the Chicago Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Along with his classical performing schedule he plays in traditional, folk, jazz, and rock groups throughout the Chicago area. In his free time he likes to play shows, compose, and relax with his partner, Kelsey, and cat, Roswell.

Chamber Jam Guru

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.

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.


Oskar Reuter is a musician and guitar teacher based in Gothenburg, Sweden. While his background is in jazz, in 2005 he met Jonathan Larsson who introduced him to Swedish traditional fiddle music. Now a graduate of the University of Gothenburg, his main focus is Nordic traditional and contemporary music. He currently splits his time between performing and teaching. He writes, "The possibility to meet and play with new people from all around the world is one of the best things about being a musician."

Randy Vidrine was born and raised in Ville Platte, Louisiana, in a family that spoke predominantly French. He writes, “In high school I began playing guitar in a “French” band as it was known in those days. We did not call the music we were playing “Cajun” until a few years later.”

After being introduced to Cory McCauley he became more serious about playing traditional French or Cajun music, later forming a duo with Mitch Reed on fiddle, and himself on guitar and vocals. The band toured the United States performing at venues such as The Lincoln Center in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC as well as in Britain and Europe.

In 2012 Randy was inducted into the Wall of Fame at the world famous Fred’s Lounge in Mamou, LA where he still plays monthly with “The Lafayette Rhythm Devils” and other bands. Randy can also frequently be seen in the Acadiana area performing with Jimmy Breaux on drums in the “Forest Huval” band.

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.


Kaden Hurst grew up in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California, where he began his musical education in both western classical music and american and scottish fiddle music. Kaden holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mandolin Performance from Regis University in Denver Colorado, where he studied under 2016 National Mandolin Champion Jordan Ramsey. As a performer and composer, Kaden takes influence from the natural world and folk music from the Americas. As a teacher, Kaden’s approach incorporates a deep knowledge of mandolin technique and history, the music theory and musicology underlying american folk music, and empathy for students at any level of mandolin knowledge. Kaden currently works as a music teacher and performer based out of Portland Oregon. His interests include the intermingling of folk and art musics, juggling, and the unreasonably compelling nature of fiddle tunes.

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.


Jimmy Breaux is acknowledged to be one of the best Cajun accordionists of the modern era. The accordion player for the Grammy Award-winning group BeauSoleil, Breaux comes from a Louisiana musical dynasty. Since retiring from BeauSoleil, Breaux has played and recorded with a variety of groups in Louisiana.

Dance Class: Summer McCall was born and raised the Sierra Nevada mountains and 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

Randy Vidrine: Randy’s vocals have been described as “high and lonesome,” and are in the French dialect of the Prairie Cajuns who live in the area where he was raised. Randy has taught his distinctive style of singing at many workshops and music camps, including Ashoken Southern Week in Woodstock, New York; Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington; and Augusta Cajun Week at Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia.


Jens Linell is the percussionist for Sver, a group of "self-proclaimed Scandinavian party musicians [who] bring together traditions from Norway and Sweden to brilliantly playful effect. Check out his 17 minute tambourine improvisation on YouTube.

Wild Cards

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. 

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.

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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