What fiddler Natalie MacMaster loves so much about memories of Christmas as a child in Nova Scotia is not how they were unique, but how they were typical.
Dad going out back to cut down a tree and drag it into the house. Mom spending hours over the stove getting everything ready for turkey dinner. Wrapping gifts. Attending mass.
And of course, the music.
“It was the day after December 25 where there would be some house parties,” MacMaster said. “People were around and had the time to celebrate … It was very typical, which made it special, even though that sounds funny to say.”
It’s this atmosphere of musical merriment the Juno-award-winning musician will be celebrating and recreating when she and fellow fiddler Donnell Leahy hit the road this holiday season. They’ll be playing 26 shows across Canada in promotion of their new album, A Celtic Family Christmas, out October 28.
“I’m absolutely so excited because I love the music on the record,” MacMaster said. “I love it because it became what I hoped it would be, which is standard Christmas music done in a really fresh way.”
The tour includes a stop in Sidney for two shows at the Mary Winspear Centre on November 27 and 28. The fiddling duo will be accompanied by a band on the tour, but no drummer for a change, which MacMaster said helps the melodies to shine through.
“We wanted to make it lively but not necessarily a powerhouse of instrumentation,” she said. “There are a lot of colours going on and we want you to hear all that.”
So, for example, MacMaster and Leahy will take a well-known Christmas carol such as “Angels We Have Heard on High,” but layer it with fiddle harmony parts to “open up the flood gates to Heaven and let those angels sing, and at the end of it the angels start step dancing.”
The show will truly be a family affair, as MacMaster and Leahy have been married since 2002 and have six children who will be accompanying them on the tour.
The entire family will even come on stage to play at some point during the show.
“It’s an absolute gift,” MacMaster said. “To have them wanting to be part of the music and have their own little talents, it’s just so lovely to watch unfold.”
For more details and tickets visit marywinspear.ca.