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University of Iowa News Release

March 11, 2005

Fiddling Whirlwind Natalie McMaster Performs March 31 In Hancher

Natalie McMaster, the whirlwind Celtic fiddler and step dancer from Canada's Cape Breton Island, will perform with her band at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31 in the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium.

Only in her early 30s, McMaster already has won 11 East Coast Music Awards, five Canadian Fiddle Player of the Year honors and two Juno Awards, Canada's equivalent of a Grammy. She's performed with Carlos Santana, the Chieftains, Paul Simon, Luciano Pavarotti, Mark O'Connor, Michael McDonald and Alison Krauss.

Just last month she won two East Coast Music Awards at the ceremony in Nova Scotia -- Female Artist of the Year and Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year for her latest recording, 'Blueprint'.

The niece of famed Cape Breton fiddler Buddy McMaster, she was step-dancing at five and first picked up a fiddle at the age of nine. After winning numerous awards for her early traditional Cape Breton recordings, she began taking Celtic music to new realms with albums featuring elements of jazz and Latin music, and guest vocals by bluegrass star Alison Krauss.

She's performed on ABC television's New Year's Eve broadcast at the special request of one of her greatest fans, Peter Jennings. And she's created, financed and produced her own nationally broadcast network TV special.

Two of her CD's have charted on Billboard's Top 20 World Music charts, and four of her CDs have been certified "gold" in Canada.

Bluegrass and Celtic music are close cousins, with shared roots dating back several hundred years. For "Blueprint" McMaster enlisted some of the world's top bluegrass pickers, including banjo player Bela Fleck, dobro legend Jerry Douglas, mandolin star Sam Bush and bassist Edgar Meyer.

Her exhaustive touring schedule has taken her from stages in Hawaii to Antarctica, Alaska to Japan, from Scotland to Italy, Germany to the Hollywood Bowl and beyond. She is often referred to as "the busiest woman in Canadian music business," all the while performing with what the Los Angeles Times described as "irresistible, keening passion."

Hancher directors Judith Hurtig and Charles Swanson were determined to book McMaster after hearing her in a concert while attending an arts-presenters' conference.

"Some friends of ours told us, 'You HAVE to see this artist!'," Swanson recalls. "There were only two tickets left, so it must have been fate.

"We were just totally floored by her performance. This woman must have a tornado inside her, because she is all over the stage dancing and fiddling, constantly moving. I was exhausted at the end of the concert.

"This is the event I have been looking forward to more than any performance in the season."

Hurtig says she was impressed by the quality of Cape Breton music, which represents a historical meeting point for the Celtic and Cajun traditions that have already found enthusiastic audiences in Hancher: "One of the joys of this job is the chance to 'discover' artists I know our audience will love," she says.

"Fans of both the Chieftains and Beausoleil will find the sound very familiar, and yet the music of Cape Breton has a delightful flavor all its own. I think that between her energy and the joyful sound of this music, people will have difficulty staying in their seats."

Cantebury Inn and Suites is the sponsor of the March 31 concert, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $30/28/25; UI student $27/15; senior citizen $27/25.20/22.50; youth $21/19.60/17.50.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

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