Arts, Dining & Entertainment

“Visions from Cape Breton” brings MacMaster/Leahy duo back to Chandler Music Hall

Photo submitted


Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. — RANDOLPH — Electrifying celtic fiddling, step dancing, and song will raise the roof at Chandler Music Hall when Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy return to Randolph on Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. This world-renowned husband-and-wife team have performed many times at Chandler, always for a wildly appreciative audience. Their new show, “Visions from Cape Breton: A Celtic Family Tradition,” celebrates the latest chapter in their long musical and personal journey.

For the first time on stage, the celebrated duo will include their own children in the performance, along with dancers and singers who bring to life their celtic traditions. The Randolph show will be the second stop on a 60-city tour of the United States for MacMaster, Leahy, and their six children.

Both MacMaster and Leahy come from strong musical families. MacMaster’s uncle, Buddy MacMaster, is a noted Cape Breton fiddler, as are her cousins Ashley MacIsaac and Andrea Beaton. MacMaster herself began fiddling at nine years old and was only 16 when she released her first album. While remaining true to her heritage, she has over the years incorporated various influences into her music, including Scottish and Irish music and American bluegrass. A Boston Herald writer commented on her powerful stage presence: “To call Natalie MacMaster the most dynamic performer in Celtic music today is high praise, but it still doesn’t get at just how remarkable a concert artist this Cape Breton Island fiddler has become.”

Donnell Leahy is the best known member of “Leahy,” the legendary Canadian folk music group comprised of eight of the 11 Leahy siblings, all talented in instrumental music, singing, and step-dancing. In addition to being the front man and lead fiddler for the family group for more than 20 years, Donnell performs as a solo act and with brothers Doug and Angus. Like MacMaster, he keeps a strong sense of his Irish/Canadian heritage while finding inspiration in music from cultures around the world.

These two great musical families were joined when MacMaster and Leahy married in 2002. While still maintaining solo careers, they love to collaborate and find it no problem to combine work and family life. The joy audiences feel onstage is part of their daily life, according to Leahy. “The reality is we’re pretty happy all the time,” he said. “The music dictates the mood of the show. When we play, it’s all about the music. It’s too hard to fake that. People pick up on that. They know it’s genuine.”

As both come from a tradition were music is part of daily life, it has been very natural to pass the art on to their six children and, now, to make them part of their show. The children are homeschooled, with lessons continuing when on tour. “We’re parents first…all our decisions start with the kids in mind,” Leahy notes.

Tickets to the performance in the Main Hall may be purchased online or by calling the box office at 802-728-6464 weekdays 3-6 p.m. Chandler Center for the Arts is located at 71-73 Main Street, Randolph. Chandler’s Main Hall and galleries are handicapped accessible.

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