Ryan McKasson

A fiddler with roots in Scotland, Ireland, America, Canada, and his own soul.

“The bow drives across the strings, thick and throaty, creating a pulsing sound that feels more of muscle than tendon...a compositional sophistication that is cinematic, transporting, and tantalizingly modern”, wrote The Boston Globe. Ryan McKasson has gained a reputation as a performer, composer, collaborator, and teacher. In 1996 he was the youngest to win the National Scottish Fiddle Championship. In 1997 he was awarded a Merit Scholarship for Viola Performance from the University of Southern California where he studied with Donald McInnes.


Ryan started learning the violin at the age of 4. One of his early fiddle teachers was Carol-Ann Wheeler who encouraged Ryan to joined the Seattle Scottish Fiddlers, headed by Calum MacKinnon, where he first began to play Scottish fiddle. In 1994, he started attending Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School (VOM), where he met fiddler and teacher Alasdair Fraser, and joined a rather remarkable generation of musicians, many of whom have gone on to be notable performers and teachers.

In 2004 Ryan and his sister, Cali, formed a band, The McKassons, that eventually included Ryan’s wife, Brooke, and her brother, Matt Jerrell. The McKassons released two critically acclaimed albums, Tall Tales (2004) and Tripping Maggie (2006). Since 2002 he has also been fiddler for a renowned contra dance band, The Syncopaths. They have just released their second album, Five Gears.

Ryan has also been a member of a baroque/celtic/fusion combo,  Ensemble Galilei. He helped co-write and co-produce First Person: Seeing America with them, a collaboration between Ensemble Galilei and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This multi-disciplinary project includes photographs from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, poetry and prose about America, and the music of Ensemble Galilei.  He also recorded with Ensemble Galilei on A Change of Worlds (2012), and Surrounded by Angels: A Christmas Celebration With Ensemble Galilei (2013).


Ryan has recorded with Hanneke Cassel on her albums Silver, For Reasons Unseen, and Dot The Dragon’s Eye, and also with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas on their album Highlander’s Farewell.

Ryan has also taught at fiddle camps around the US and New Zealand, most notably: Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddling School, Southern Hemisphere International School of Scottish Fiddle, Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, and Swannanoa Gathering.


Photographer: Winsome Bye