State College will get into the holiday spirit when Canada’s own Leahy Family will fill Eisenhower Auditorium with their Celtic Christmas music at 7:30 tonight.
This Celtic-Canadian family band features Donnell, the oldest, on lead fiddle with his seven brothers and sisters accompanying with a mix of vocals, various instruments and Irish dancing.
They have been featured on several PBS specials, and their life story was told in an Oscar-winning documentary, “The Leahys: Music Most of All,” according to a press release issued by the Center for Performing Arts at Penn State.
This will be their debut performance in State College, but the group is not completely unfamiliar with the area, said CPA Marketing and Communications director Laura Sullivan.
Sullivan said the CPA hosted a performance in the past with Natalie MacMaster, the wife of one of the Leahy brothers.
“It is a good holiday family program. You can expect an evening of lively music, dance and song,” she said. “They play a wide range of instruments, excellent vocals and will be playing some holiday favorites along with some music of their own.”
Sullivan added that Celtic programs have a successful history in State College, especially around the holidays, which made the Leahy’s a perfect fit for the Yuletide season.
The family has released five albums and has been playing together since their childhood on an Ontario farm.
Editorial Manager John Mark Rafacz said the family’s Canadian upbringing is reflected in the music they play. He said because they are from Ontario, they have both Irish and Scottish ancestors, calling it a “patchwork quilt” of Celtic and non-Celtic influences.
He added that their music evokes a “multinational Celtic spirit.”
Rafacz said the group will perform holiday music that is meaningful to them in addition to original holiday tunes, but not to expect a flashy performance.
“I think they’re just really genuine, what you see is what you get,” he said. “They’re not trying to pull one over on anyone, there’s no elaborate light show. It’s all about art, not the shtick.”
He said the performance will have a “natural connection” with some audience members because many Americans, especially in Pennsylvania, can trace their ancestry to Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
He said much of the foundation for American music is built on Celtic sounds, adding that it is the sort of music that appeals to a lot of people.
The performance itself will portray qualities the Leahy family is famous for, he added.
“Leahy is particularly known for its high energy and exciting stage performances,” he said. “They look like they’re having a good time and that’s just sort of infectious to the audience.”
Foxdale Village, a retirement community in State College, sponsors the performance.
Jolene Hulson, marketing counselor for Foxdale Village, said that they were interested in sponsoring the event because the music and style of the performance would be appealing to all ages.
“It’s more of a family show. I think it appeals to a broader audience than other shows,” she said.
Rafacz thinks that this time of year is appropriate for the performance the Leahy family will bring to the stage.
“It’s Christmastime. It’s good to see things like that, that are uplifting and fun.”
Tickets are on sale through the CPA: $39 for adults, $20 for Penn State students and $31 for attendees aged 18 and younger.