The family fun continues at the UMASS Fine Arts Center this season with a special holiday show featuring award-winning fiddle virtuosos Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy and their family for an intimate and unique concert guaranteed to help you find your holiday spirit. The duo will be accompanied by an array of talented musicians, including their children, for a night of high-end fiddle playing and step dancing that will make you want to get out of your seat and celebrate. "A Celtic Family Christmas" takes place at the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall on Wednesday, December 4 at 7 p.m.
If you're concerned about bringing your little ones to a holiday performance, don't be. Especially this one. Because some of the performers are children themselves. That would be MacMaster and Leahy’s six musically gifted children, who today are the centerpiece of the MacMaster/Leahy live show though not because the couple necessarily envision showbiz careers for Mary Frances, Michael, Clare, Julia and Alec (Sadie’s only 3). But the pair realized early on that being on the road without their kids was infinitely harder than touring with them.
“Christmas is where this whole concept started, and we are excited to be travelling as a family,” says Donnell Leahy. “It’s a perfect time to travel with the children and bring light and happiness to families and fans across the country.”
Doors open at 6 p.m. and audience members are invited to get their holiday family portrait taken in the Fine Arts Center Lobby by Erin Alzapiedi Photography. Ugly sweaters welcome! For a recommended donation of personal care items for the UMass Student Care Supply Closets (find a complete list of suggested items through link) patrons will receive complimentary access to their photo for use in holiday greetings and the like.
The entertainment world is filled with extraordinary stories, but few match the beguiling tale of fiddle players Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy. Married in 2002, the Canadian couple’s combined album sales exceed one million copies and collaborators have included classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bluegrass star Alison Krauss, and banjo ace Béla Fleck. Together they have been nominated for Grammy Awards and won for Best Chamber Music Performance for Songs of Joy & Peace with Yo-Yo Ma; received the Canadian Folk Music Award for Instrumental Group of the Year in 2015; and won the East Coast Music Awards Fan’s Choice for Entertainer of the Year and Instrumental Recording of the Year in 2016.
MacMaster and Leahy’s first recorded collaboration, 2015’s Bob Ezrin-produced album One, followed by 2016’s A Celtic Family Christmas, confirmed MacMaster and Leahy were as dynamic working together as they were working apart.
“The fiddle was definitely common ground for us when we first got together,” MacMaster says. “But I was so in awe of Donnell’s family, of 11 siblings who could play and had a family band. And here I am now doing almost exactly the same thing. Well, kind of.”
Tickets for A Celtic Family Christmas are $45, $35, $25; Five College Students and Youth 17 & Under are $15, $12, $10. Intimate FAC Club Seating is available in the Concert Hall pit starting at $80. For tickets call the Box Office at 545-2511, toll-free at 800-999-UMAS, or purchase online or click on the link at the top right of this page.
I'm so grateful to have teamed up with the UMASS Fine Arts Center to offer one lucky reader a family four-pack of tickets (2 adult & 2 child admissions) to the December 6 performance. All you have to do to be entered to win is use the comments field below to share your favorite local tradition to celebrate the holiday season here in Western Mass. One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries. Entry period ends at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, November 19. Good luck to all who enter!
You can read all about the entire season of family friendly shows at the FAC here.