What: Masters of Scottish Arts featuring Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas

When: 3 p.m. Sunday, doors open at 2 p.m.

Where: Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St., Bend

Cost: $25, $30 or $40 plus theater preservation fee

Contact: towertheatre.org or 541-317-0700

Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas want to make America — and the world — dance again. In fact, to hear Fraser — the “Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling” — describe it, dance is really the only way to fully understand the musical traditions he and Haas work within.

“I think that’s something that is often forgotten, is a lot of traditional music — a lot of the music that people love through the centuries — has been music that they dance to,” Fraser said while on the road with Haas in Northern California. “And I think that’s an important thing to talk about these days. We believe that the element of dance is crucial to going deeply into any culture’s traditions.”

The duo — Haas on cello, Fraser on fiddle — shouldn’t have any trouble getting the crowd moving at the Tower Theatre on Sunday. But Central Oregon’s dance-happy concertgoers aren’t necessarily the norm for Fraser and Haas. More often than not, the audience needs some encouraging.

“People get stuck in their seats, and there’s fear,” Fraser said. “People are scared in case they don’t dance well enough or they don’t know what they’re doing. I think it’s actually kind of a social issue that people are forgetting what it is to do that. So yeah, we like to encourage freedom of expression in that way.”

Fraser and Haas will headline the Masters of Scottish Arts concert at the Tower, a celebration of Scottish culture that will also feature local groups the Deschutes Caledonian Pipes and Drums Band, A Scottish Heart, The High Desert Scottish Country Dancers, piper David Brock and Central Oregon Community College music professor James Knox.

The show also is a benefit for Bend2Baja2Build, which sends Bendites to Mexico to help build homes for families in need; the Friends of Oregon Badlands Wilderness nonprofit; and Save a Warrior. The latter program, which provides “war detox” retreats, or cohorts, for soldiers, veterans, firefighters, police and first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress, has helped at least 15 Central Oregonians, according to board member Matt Bassitt, owner of Northwestern Home Loans in Bend.

“Probably the best way to put it is a right of passage, almost,” Bassitt, a veteran of the Air Force Reserve, said. “They allow you to discover what’s behind some of the things that are causing some of the post-traumatic stress, which surprisingly isn’t always just the combat. The combat’s what tips it over the edge. They’re really on a mission to stop veteran suicide.”

Scottish music will, of course, be the focus at the concert, and Fraser has carried a torch for traditional fiddle playing for more than four decades. Born in Clackmannan, Scotland, Fraser started classical violin lessons at 8, according to his website’s bio page, and began delving into traditional song collecting as a teenager. He relocated to California in the ’80s due to his job at British Petroleum, but soon quit to again focus on fiddling and teaching (he has run multiple fiddle camps since then, including the Valley of the Moon fiddle camp in California and another course on the Isle of Skye in Scotland).

“It was perturbing to me to find this music that I loved, but also to find that it was grossly misunderstood and misrepresented,” Fraser said of his teaching endeavors. “I wanted to peel away the layers of misinformation and expose the beauty of traditional music, and from my perspective, fiddle music, and to share it passionately with people.”

Fraser and Haas’ two-decade musical partnership began at one of these camps, when Haas, a California native, was still in high school. In Haas, Fraser found the perfect foil to explore cello and violin duets (or the “wee fiddle” and “big fiddle”) in Scottish dance music, a tradition that Fraser says had been neglected since the 18th century.

“I was always puzzled by that, going back and looking at old paintings of musicians and dance scenes in Scotland in the 18th century and whatnot,” Fraser said. “And then also looking at the old tune books, and it was always for fiddle and cello and maybe what they called German flute. And I thought, what’s going on there? Everybody seems to be dancing to the fiddle and cello. And so, we just decided when we met to look into that, and it’s been so fun. It’s been just amazing, actually, in Natalie’s hands to redefine and go back and pick up on the role of the cello as this incredible rhythm section instrument.”

That partnership has yielded five studio albums, most recently last year’s “Ports of Call,” which finds the duo expanding its repertoire with original compositions and traditional dance music from Scandinavia, Spain and France.

“Increasingly, we cast a wider net, and we’re looking at many traditions that celebrate the fiddle and dance, and it just so happens that’s a pretty potent mix,” Fraser said. “You can travel to many, many countries and find people celebrating and communities embracing fiddle music and the dance, and so, we gave ourselves the task in this last album called ‘Ports of Call’ to journey around to various European countries ... and kind of shine a light on it.”

21667626