Chris Duncan and Catherine Strutt are synonymous with the highest of quality Scottish fiddle music in Australia. Since their musical union in 1990 they have earned much respect as Australia’s foremost Scottish music duo. Their performances have left audiences enthralled, internationally in the U.S.A., Canada, New Zealand and Japan, and nationally with performances for concerts, dances, workshops, weddings, parties and Australian folk festivals including Port Fairy, Woodford, Cygnet, Georgetown, The Turning Wave Festival, The National Folk Festival, National Celtic Festival, Fairbridge Festival and many more.
In recent years, they have established a reputation as the leading ceilidh “band” in Australia, playing countless ceilidhs for weddings and birthday parties. Chris and Catherine are the ceilidh musicians for the Chaotic Ceilidhs hosted five times a year by the exciting, young and urban Sydney Scottish Country dance group, Scots on The Rocks at The Rocks, Sydney, in NSW. These ceilidhs have become extremely popular with tickets for the coveted event selling out within an hour of being released for each ceilidh. They continue to be in demand as dance musicians around Australia and Japan for Scottish Country Dance Groups, RSCDS Balls and events.
In 1999, joined by master ceIlist JuIian Thompson, they recorded for ABC Classics an album of Scottish fiddle music, Fyvie’s Embrace. When released it was received with critical acclaim and much excitement. It was the first time ABC Classics had recorded this genre of music, and the first album Chris and Catherine had recorded together. The following year, Fyvie’s Embrace was awarded the ARIA for Best World Music Album. It has sold over fourteen thousand copies. Chris and Catherine’s much anticipated second album with ABC Classics, and again with Julian Thompson, The Red House was released in September 2006, and was awarded the National Film and Sound Archive Best Folk Recording 2007. In 2015, their Silver Anniversary year, they released their third recording, Carriages at Midnight, a collection of dance music for Scottish Country Dance.
Catherine was born to musical parents who, when she was three, founded a bush band, and, calling it Coalbrook Ceilidh, played up and down the east coast of Australia for twenty five fantastic and eventful years. Catherine started playing the piano at twelve years. She joined the band playing piano for dances at age fourteen and gained the most invaluable and sharpest fundamental musical training of her career. With the demise of the popularity of bush dancing in the early 1990’s, Coalbrook, who had become pivotal in the bush music scene, had a name and genre change and are currently playing Scandinavian traditional music as Salmiakki Pelimannit. This band has played at many folk and dance festivals including Kaustinen, Finland and Nordlek Denmark and Sweden. Catherine has played concerts as a duo with Finnish master accordionist, Pekka Pentikainen and then again as CCP, a trio with Chris Duncan. She is considered to be one of the finest Scottish style piano players nationally and internationally and is well respected as an innovative and sensitive accompanist. She is a natural musician, her intuitive sense of rhythm and colour incomparable. Catherine taught piano at Music Under The Southern Cross Celtic music school until its closure in 2015. Catherine is currently working on a new solo piano recording for ABC Classics for expected release at Christmas 2018.
Chris started fiddle lessons when he was eleven but it wasn’t until he was a teenager that he embraced Scottish fiddle music. His inspiration was the sight of legendary folk fiddler Bob McInnes from the Southern Highlands of N.S.W, Australia, who was energetically playing for a Scottish dance. In these early years of the late 1970s, Bob was one of only two Scottish fiddlers in Australia. Chris became the third and together they pioneered Scottish fiddle music in Australia.
Chris formed a band of his own, Harp and Claymore, and played for dancing both nationally and internationally for over twenty one years until he moved on to play full time as a duo with Catherine. For nearly thirty years Chris has been performing and giving workshops and classes in the art of the Scottish fiddle across Australia and internationally and is considered to be an authority of Scottish fiddle music. He has pioneered the development of Scottish fiddle clubs in Australia and the Music Under the Southern Cross Celtic music School in Tasmania/ Victoria.
Chris is the master of his art., the definitive expert of the strathspey, and today, it would be a formidable pursuit to find a Scottish fiddle player from the swelling population of Scottish fiddle players in Australia, established or new, who has not been inspired and influenced by the unprecedented talent of Chris Duncan.
For more about Chris Duncan and Catherine Strutt visit: http://www.chrisandcatherine.com.au/