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‘A Celtic Family Christmas’ delivers holiday cheer

“A Celtic Family Christmas” stars fiddlers Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Canada’s reigning Celtic music couple will fiddle their way into the holidays in Santa Fe on Friday, Dec. 20.

Natalie MacMaster, Donnell Leahy and five of their seven children will take the stage of the Lensic Performing Arts Center for “A Celtic Family Christmas.”

“I’ve been playing holiday shows for 20 years,” MacMaster said in a telephone interview from Ontario, “and as a wife for the last 10 years. It’s evolved in that now I have seven children. It’s just a natural evolution of growth and life.”

A Cape Breton native who could step dance before she could walk, MacMaster married Leahy in 2002. Leahy’s style is more Scots Irish with a dollop of Ontario thrown in.

The couple operate a 120-acre cattle farm in Lakefield, Ontario, where MacMaster, who has a teaching degree, home schools their children.

Blending their personal lives proved easier than blending their distinctive Celtic styles.

“With Donnell, I had to listen more deeply to subtleties in his music so that I wouldn’t muscle over them,” MacMaster said. “I also had to try and roll with his rhythm.”

The kids perform during a 15-minute portion of the show, commandeering the fiddle and accordion. Audiences also can expect a video component gleaned from a TV Christmas special.

“We have all the family Christmas moments captured on camera,” MacMaster said.

The program includes such holiday favorites as “Sleigh Ride,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” “Joy to the World,” “O Holy Night, “Away in a Manger,” “Frosty the Snowman” and more.

“We’re instrumentalists, so there aren’t a lot of vocals,” MacMaster said.

Traveling with a bus full of children ages 7-14 gets easier each year, she added.

“It’s harder traveling without them than with them.”

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