"LAURA CORTESE is an exciting young fiddler-singer. Her music is a captivating, frisky mix of traditional grace & modern sophistication."
- Scott Alarik, The Boston Globe
A rising star, Laura Cortese boasts an energetic performance of driving fiddle, vocals, and stepdance with an original blend of Celtic music and contemporary influence. Laura's dynamic fiddling, flashing footwork and expressive vocals offer a distinct blend of traditional styling and innovative artistry. Laura was the 1998 New England Scottish fiddle champion, and currently performs solo as well as with the Boston-based group Halali, The Jolly Bankers and with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble. She has shared the stage with other Celtic greats including Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas, Teada, John Whelan, Cathie Ryan, Aoife Clancy & Robbie O'Connell. In January, she was a key organizer of the first ever Boston Celtic Music Festival. Her Debut recording "Hush" was released on JAR records in March of 2004.
She got inspired to play the fiddle as a teenager when she first went to Alasdair Fraser's Valley of the Moon fiddle camp (near her home town of San Francisco). After a few years in the Scottish fiddle club scene (as well as trips to Scotland and Cape Breton Island) she developed a truly driving Scottish fiddle style all her own, and has won a number of fiddle competitions; she was the 1998 New England regional Scottish Fiddle Champion.
She was featured on tour with Alasdair Fraser and the San Francisco Scottish Fiddle Club in California and Alaska. She has studied with Fraser, as well as Martin Hayes, Buddy MacMaster, Catriona MacDonald, Jerry Holland, and Carl Mackenzie.
Through her involvement in Boston many and varied traditional music scenes, Laura's music has been influenced by Irish & American traditional music, jazz, pop & more.
Laura is increasingly being recognized as an inspiring vocalist who combines a respect and depth of knowledge of traditional folk ballads with a thoroughly modern delivery. Her solo concerts & performances with the fiddle trio Halali both feature Laura's vocals. Laura sings on Lissa Schneckenburger's solo record A Different Game and The McKasson's Debut Release: Tall Tales
As a stepdancer Laura performs regularly with Maryland's Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble. She is a cast member in Footworks' two new collaborative theatre shows: "The Crossing" (a collaboration with Nashville's Tim O'Brien which was named the "Best Concert of 2001" by New York's Irish Echo), and also "SoleMates" (a collaboration with the Washington, DC dance ensemble Step Afrika!).
Laura frequently performs with Boston band Halali, which features Laura and two other stellar fiddlers Lissa Schneckenburger and Hanneke Cassel, with guitar accompaniment by Flynn Cohen (of the John Whelan Band, among other projects). Halali was nominated for a Boston Music Award for Folk Act of 2004. Halali offers intricate fiddle arrangements that "veer between Celtic airs, Appalachian hoedowns, and their own smart tunes with bewitching ease." (Boston Globe, Nov. 2001).
Laura performs as a dancer with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble of Annapolis, Maryland (see "dance" above). When she can, Laura goes on unofficial busking tours with a trio of friends known as The Jolly Bankers, in which she plays fiddle, sings, and helps engineer innovative independent recording projects.