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A trip to the Isles…Music from Scotland, Cape Breton and beyond

By Staff | May 15, 2015

Take a musical journey to the Celtic Isles of Scotland, Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island with border piper, Ben Miller and fiddler Anita MacDonlad, on Friday, May 22 at St Peter’s Lutheran Church.

This duo will bring a fine program of song, tunes and step-dance fusing traditional music with the energy of more modern influences into a show that is sure to appeal to a wide range of ages.

Ben Miller and Anita MacDonald join together, merging traditional influences from Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island, as well as the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. This fresh and talented duo pairs driving dance-tunes with expressive Gaelic airs and songs, bringing their listeners a powerful combination of passion and grace.

Ben Miller is an American-born player of Scottish bagpipes, currently living in Edinburgh, Scotland. His interest in traditional music stems from his exposure to the pipes at a young age, in his home town of Queensbury, as well as his family’s strong connection to its Scottish and Irish roots, through both his American mother and Canadian father. He began studying the Highland Bagpipes around age eight, but by twelve he began to shift his focus to the bellows-blown Scottish smallpipes and Border pipes. Ben is also an academic, holding an undergraduate degree in Music, as well as a Master’s degree in Scottish Ethnology, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Scottish Studies. His repertoire and style draw mainly on the Gaelic traditions of Western Scotland and the Canadian Maritimes, blended with a healthy dash of Irish tunes for good measure.

Anita MacDonald is an accomplished musician, dancer and Gaelic singer from Little Narrows, Cape Breton. She began stepdancing in the family kitchen at the tender age of four, and picked up the fiddle a few short years later, at age eight. Anita has been wowing audiences with her impeccable timing and neatly choreographed steps ever since. Anita’s fiddle playing has a distinctive sound, influenced by the deep roots of her musical family and her teachers throughout the years. Her energetic style has put her in demand as a performer and teacher, across Cape Breton and beyond. She has been a featured artist in the Celtic Colours International Festival, and has toured throughout New England with Cape Breton folk trio, The Goin’s On. Anita released her debut album, “Stepping Stone,” during the 2011 Celtic Colours International Festival and has been a featured artist many times.

This new and exciting duo emerged after a chance meeting at the Celtic Colours Festival in 2013. Anita then joined Ben for his debut recording project, titled “On Home Ground,” which was released only a few months later in January 2014. The recording has been met with rave reviews, called: “Cunning”, “Fiery.” “Fresh, yet totally traditional,” as well as “Excellent entertainment” – giving listeners a real taste of things to come.

This concert is the sixth concert in this Shepherdstown Music and Dance’s International Concert Series this season. Admission cost is $18 adults, $15 seniors, $12 SMD members, $8 students and will be taken at the door. The concert starts at 8 p.m., and will be followed by a music session at the Blue Moon Restaurant. For more information, see the web page at smad.us, call Joanie at (304) 263-2531 or email updf@earthlink.net.