Join the MacMaster Leaheys for A Celtic Family Christmas

With nine months of experience in livestreaming events under our belts, The Clayton Center is branching out this holiday season with a special offering of A Celtic Family Christmas with the MacMaster Leahy Family.

The event – which becomes available on Thursday, December 17 – is our first ticketed virtual show. Tickets are available through our partner streaming service HomePlay.Live. Click here for details on how to purchase tickets and access the show via HomePlay.Live

The MacMaster-Leahy Family

The entertainment world is filled with extraordinary stories, but few match the beguiling true-life tale of Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, Canada’s reigning couple of Celtic music, whose dazzling career achievements underpin an incomparable off-stage life.

Indeed, when two of the planet’s very best fiddle players married in 2002, the proverbial mantelpiece was instantly crammed with JUNO and East Coast Music Awards. Though MacMaster and Leahy followed different trajectories – she a Cape Breton native who could step-dance before she could walk; he the oldest brother of acclaimed family group Leahy – both had assuredly crested the traditional music peak.

Their first recorded collaboration, 2015’s Bob Ezrin-produced album One, which was followed by 2016’s A Celtic Family Christmas (and which cemented the couple’s status as powerhouses on the seasonal circuit) confirmed MacMaster and Leahy were as dynamic working together as they were working apart.

The entertainment world is filled with extraordinary stories, but few match the beguiling true-life tale of Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, Canada’s reigning couple of Celtic music, whose dazzling career achievements underpin an incomparable off-stage life.

That’s no small feat when your combined album sales exceed one million; when past collaborators include classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bluegrass star Alison Krauss and banjo ace Béla Fleck; and when your ecstatic fan base (which boasts Shania Twain and The Chieftains) stretches from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Sydney, Australia.

“The fiddle was definitely common ground for us when we first got together,” MacMaster, a Member of Order of Canada since 2006, recalls with a chuckle. “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.”

MacMaster is referring to her and Leahy’s six musically gifted children, who today are the centrepiece of the MacMaster/Leahy live set though not because the couple necessarily envision showbiz careers for Mary Frances, Michael, Clare, Julia and Alec (Sadie’s only 3).

Rather, the pair realized early on that being on the road without their kids was infinitely harder than touring with them. That the children were already being home schooled (MacMaster has a teaching degree) made enacting that decision easier.

“Initially we were reluctant to let the kids perform. We worried the expectations might be too much,” Leahy says. “But then one night we put Mary Frances on stage. Soon after that Michael wanted to play. And you must reward practice.

“When I was a kid, I played the fiddle for my parents and my brothers and sisters. But you need to get into the game at some point. For me, the game was playing house parties. Our kids are practicing and when they come out on stage and do their little number, it’s their reward. They feel like a part of the tour and that provides amazing gratification.”