"Exuberant and rhythmic, somehow both wild and innocent, delivered with captivating melodic clarity and an irresistible playfulness," says The Boston Globe about Hanneke Cassel's playing. Such charismatic fiddling has brought 25-year old Hanneke Cassel many honors and awards. She is the 1997 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, she holds a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Berklee College of Music, and she has performed and taught across the U.S., Scotland, Sweden, Austria, and Canada.
In addition to her solo act, Hanneke plays fiddle with the Cathie Ryan Band, and has performed with Cherish the Ladies, Alasdair Fraser, Matt Glaser and the Wayfaring Strangers, Ensemble Galilei, and Aine Minogue. Her fiddling has graced the stages of Boston's Symphony Hall (opening for Judy Collins) and Mountain Stage, The Plaza Hotel, and the Lincoln Center in NYC (with Cathie Ryan). She is also part of the newly formed band, Halali, with fiddler/step-dancer/singer Laura Cortese, fiddler Lissa Schneckenburger, and guitarist Flynn Cohen.
Native of Port Orford, Oregon, Hanneke started playing classical violin when she was 8-years old. She met Portland-based fiddler Carol Ann Wheeler when she was 10 at an Oldtime fiddle contest. She soon quit classical, started taking fiddle lessons with Carol Ann, and began competing in Texas-style fiddle contests throughout the Northwest. A few years later, Carol Ann encouraged Hanneke to learn some Scottish tunes. In 1991, Hanneke entered the Columbia-Pacific Scottish Fiddle Contest in Portland. She won the Jr. contest and went on a year later to capture the U.S. National Scottish Jr. Championship in New Hampshire. With this honor came a scholarship to study on the Isle of Skye, Scotland with the renowned Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and Cape Breton Master Buddy MacMaster.
Hanneke's interest in and exuberance for fiddling is definitely a product of the ever-increasing presence of fiddle camps across the globe. The summers of her teen years were spent between Scotland, Mark O'Connor's Fiddle Camp in Nashville, and Alasdair Fraser's Valley of the Moon Fiddle School in California. She was inspired by the amazing musicians at these camps. Among them was Matt Glaser, Chair of Berklee College of Music's String Department. With encouragement from Glaser and Evan Price (fiddle camp friend, former Berklee student, and current member of the Turtle Island String Quartet), Hanneke set off for Boston in 1996 to attend Berklee College of Music on a string scholarship.
Hanneke graduated from Berklee in 2000, and continues to reside in Boston where she is active in the thriving traditional music scene.