Effervescent and engaging, Boston-based fiddler Hanneke Cassel is a performer, teacher and composer whose career spans over two decades. Her style fuses influences from the Isle of Skye and Cape Breton Island with Americana grooves and musical innovations, creating a cutting-edge acoustic sound that retains the integrity and spirit of the Scottish tradition. Hanneke’s music is a blend of the contemporary and traditional, described by the Boston Globe as “exuberant and rhythmic, somehow wild and innocent, delivered with captivating melodic clarity and an irresistible playfulness.”
A prolific composer, Hanneke writes music from personal experiences of love and loss as well as to commemorate the joys and sorrows in the lives of loved ones. Hanneke’s latest release, Trip to Walden Pond, features traditional Scottish and Cape Breton tunes and seventeen new pieces composed in the Scottish idiom. While her lively style is very much evident, this new album carries a deep, soulful sound with songs of celebration and farewell. Produced by Finnish musician Antti Järvelä (FRIGG, JPP, Baltic Crossing), the album showcases long-time musical collaborators cellist Mike Block, guitarists Keith Murphy and Christopher Lewis, fiddler/violist Jeremy Kittel, and pianist Dave Wiesler. Antti Järvelä contributes guitar and piano to a couple of tracks and piper Samppa Saarinen is featured on the uilleann pipes. Trip to Walden Pond, similar to Hanneke’s five previous albums, offers mellifluous arrangements of traditional fiddle music and original tunes that evoke humor and heart. This latest album also includes several compositions penned by Hanneke as commissions to benefit Many Hopes, a children’s education nonprofit based in Kenya that she avidly supports.
A native of Port Orford, Oregon, Hanneke started out as a Texas-style fiddler and went on to win the 1997 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Championship, which awarded her the opportunity to study with Alasdair Fraser and introduced her to fiddle camps and the folk community -- both of which continue to play an integral role in her life. Hanneke teaches regularly at Fraser’s Valley of the Moon and Sierra Fiddle Camps, the Mike Block String Camp (run by her husband, acclaimed cellist Mike Block), Harald Haugaard’s International Fiddle School, and the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School. She has served as a guest instructor in the American Roots department at Berklee College of Music, where she received her Bachelor’s of Music in Violin Performance.
Hanneke is a sought-after performer who has graced stages across North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. She has been featured at Celtic Connections (Glasgow, Scotland), KVMR Celtic Fest (Grass Valley, USA), Milwaukee Irish Fest (Milwaukee, USA), Celtic Colours (Cape Breton, Canada), WGBH Christmas Celtic Sojourn (Boston, USA) and the National Celtic Festival (Port Arlington, Australia). The Hanneke Cassel Band features Mike Block on cello and alternating guitarists Keith Murphy and Christopher Lewis.
In addition to performing with her own band, Hanneke has been featured on PBS with Boston-based fiddle band Childsplay and has performed with Baroque/Celtic group Ensemble Galilei at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (with former NPR ‘Talk of the Nation’ host Neal Conan) and the National Geographic in Washington, D.C. (with actor Bill Pullman). She has made guest appearances with Cherish the Ladies, Matt Glaser & the Wayfaring Strangers, Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas, and Joey McIntyre (from New Kids on the Block.)
Hanneke and her husband Mike live in Boston and are active within many circles of musicians. Besides their involvement in the Scottish fiddle scene and at Berklee College of Music, they are frequent performers and patrons at Club Passim and are rooted in the thriving local music community.
2008 USA Songwriting Contest - 1st place INSTRUMENTAL,
3rd place OVERALL
1998 Berklee College of Music Strings Award
1997 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion
1996 Oregon State Texas-style Grand Champion
1996 Berklee College of Music U.S. Scholarship Tour Award
1994 U.S. National Jr. Scottish Fiddle Champion
1992 U.S. National Jr. Scottish Fiddle Champion
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