Brian O’Donovan will mostly likely begin a conversation about his stage show, "A Christmas Celtic Sojourn," with a history lesson. That’s not atypical for the man who has been hosting WGBH’s "A Celtic Sojourn" radio show for 27 years. That’s because Londonderry was home to many Irish immigrants in centuries past.
“In 1719 Scotch-Irish came and settled in the Londonderry area. And they’re not Scottish and Irish as some people assume. They were a particular group of Irish who were originally Scots, and were brought to Ireland centuries before as planters and created a new culture. Irish Catholics came to this country much later, and then the Scotch-Irish migrated down to the Appalachian Mountains and had a hand in influencing the bluegrass tradition.”
What that means to a non-historian is that the music, dancing and folklore that are part of "A Christmas Celtic Sojourn," blend art from the many cultures that influenced what we now call Celtic. Audiences will be able to experience for themselves when the show comes to the Stockbridge Theatre at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H.
This stage show, in its 10th year, has the feel of a traditional kitchen party right or pub gathering right on stage.
“The show is live, collaborative, and invitational. That’s what Celtic music is all about. We try to invite the audience into the process and make the show a gathering of friends and family,” said Donovan, chatting a few hours before jumping on a plane to Ireland for a family wedding.
Though the lineup changes each year, the 10th anniversary celebration of "A Christmas Celtic Sojourn" has drawn some of the most beloved acts back to the stage. Navan, a group who first performed in the show in 2003, will return this year, singing their unique blend of traditional music from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall and the Isle of Man. Also returning to the stage are harpist Catriona McKay and fiddler Chris Stout, who wrote an original piece of music for the show in 2010 and received a standing ovation for their theatrical performance.