Kyle MacDonald, Artist of the Week
Runs Nov. 14-18th.
Kyle MacDonald is a life long fiddler and musician from Inverness. He is a school teacher on the West coast of the island, and a Gaelic language learner. Kyle is currently playing at dances and ceilidhs in Cape Breton, and has represented Cape Breton and Nova Scotia both nationally and internationally. Music is experienced as a natural part of Kyle’s lifestyle, most often in the home setting surrounded by family, friends, and laughter.
Kyle MacDonald grew up surrounded by a community of fantastic fiddle players. As a youth he spent many hours with the late Dougie MacDonald and performed widely on the Island with his two brothers, (Keith and Colin) calling themselves “All Fired Up”.
His development as a fiddler benefited from his early age affiliation with the Cape Breton Fiddler’s Association, and he was lucky to have experiences learning from players such as Ed Rogers, John Campbell, Stan Chapman, Jerry Holland, Carl MacKenzie, David Greenburg, Winnie Chafe, and Buddy MacMaster. Marianne Jewel instructed Kyle throughout his teen years deciphering the Gaelic style of fiddle playing local to the Mabou area. It was during this time that he gained confident literacy in note reading, and developed his playing in a variety of key signatures.
Kyle attended St. Francis Xavier University where he attained a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Music ‘11, and a Bachelor of Education ’13 and has spent the past two years living in Halifax. In January 2015, he was asked by the Aurora Fiddle Society to travel to Yellowknife, NWT and instruct their Winter Workshop, having the honor of being the first Cape Breton Fiddler asked to do so. He is quick to name Cameron Chisholm, John Morris Rankin, Willie Kennedy and Buddy MacMaster as fiddlers he enjoys listening to as well as Howie MacDonald, Rachel Davis, Kenneth MacKenzie, and Ian MacDougall. Kyle recently moved back to the town of Inverness.
Flash forward 20 years or so. Kyle is now a teacher, both is the regular school system and at the Gaelic College. He is also much in demand as a fiddler, dancer and Gaelic singer. This year he recorded his first solo project, a self-titled project that was the result of winning the Frank ‘Big Sampie’ Sampson Award, a co-presentation of the Celtic Colours Festival Drive’ers Association and Lakewind Sound.
There’s a great drive to his playing with a timing well suited for dancing but he isn’t afraid of something more sedate. Perfect examples are his renditions of Dark Island and Mo Mhàthair (My Mother), both familiar pieces. Kyle comes off the latter with one of his favourite cuts, (Dunvegan), a snappy strathspey and reel combination that ends with Margie Beaton’s The Post Road. Another favourite, (Cape), includes a nice selection of Sandy MacLean, Angus Allan Gillis and Buddy MacMaster tunes that runs for almost nine minutes.