How Brian O’Donovan’s ‘Christmas Celtic Sojourn’ keeps up with tradition – Metro US

How Brian O’Donovan’s ‘Christmas Celtic Sojourn’ keeps up with tradition

How Brian O’Donovan’s ‘Christmas Celtic Sojourn’ keeps up with tradition

It’s not every day that you get invited to an intimate Christmas celebration of Irish song, dance and poetry. That’s the vision of “Christmas Celtic Sojourn,” the live performanceof Brian O’Donovan’s longtime WGBH radio show.

This year, the program focuses in on the Acadian Christmas tradition — including French Christmas carols like “Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle” — with the help of Prince Edward Island’s Vishten. Ahead of the shows, we spoke with artistic director Paula Plum on Acadian music, this year’s musical selections from both the house band Solas and the featured guests and the show’s warm, inviting spirit.

Why did you and Brian decide to focus on Acadian music this year?

Acadian music is hugely influenced by the Celtic tradition and Celtic folklore and the tradition of song, dance and instrumental music. In the past, we had Foghorn which was a country-western band, and then we had a crossover extension of our show where Foghorn and Solas — our house band — showed the differences and the similarities between country western and Celtic. So we will be doing the same thing with Acadian music. And Vishten comes from the Acadian tradition, from Prince Edward Island.

Are there any unique songs we should expect to hear this year?

Solas is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. They have created a new album called “All These Years.” The title song from that album will be played featuring Winifred Horan, who is an internationally known fiddler. Vishten will be bringing not only traditional Acadian Christmas music, but their own original compositions.

Could you talk about one particularly exciting number?

We do have several benchmarks in the show that are sort of our standard moments — a big, flashy dance number and a very humorous number … We do have one very humorous number featuring a vaudeville song. And that’s all I can say.

Are there specific Irish traditions that were important to import from Ireland, especially for ex-pats sticking around in Boston for the holidays?

The aesthetic of “Christmas Celtic Sojourn” has always been to feel as though you’re being invited in someone’s living room, or parlor as they say overseas. The way Brian hosts the show, he’s in an armchair — we have, what does he call it: “round the house and mind the dresser.” There’s a very joyous feeling of the Celtic tradition of playing in the kitchen.

Is there anything else we know before coming to check out the show this year?

If you have a love of joyful, upbeat traditional music, it will be hugely entertaining. Also, Brian brings a very special appreciation of how poetry complements musical selections. That’s what he does on “A Celtic Sojourn.” He’ll bring in pieces of literature and poetry. Every year, we select different Christmas readings. This year, I found a Wendell Berry poem that is quite beautiful. We look for the traditional but also the unusual.

If you go

Through Dec. 21, various times
Culter Majestic Theater Emerson College
219 Tremont St.