The lights will come up on A Christmas Celtic Sojourn this month, thanks to a quarantined “bubble band” assembled by host Brian O’Donovan. He and an international troupe of singers and dancers will deliver the beloved holiday show as they have for 17 years.
The virtual performances, which start on December 11, provide a stirring blend of Celtic, pagan and Christian traditions, says O’Donovan, host of GBH 89.7’s A Celtic Sojourn.
To create the show, O’Donovan and his 11-member performing troupe went into quarantine in late October, enabling them to be together for 10 days of rehearsals and recording sessions.
“We refer to ourselves as a ‘bubble band,’” he said. “Eleven of us were together for those 10 days, and nobody came in or out of that bubble,” O’Donovan said. The group included nine musicians and a lighting and audio technician. When it came time to record in November, videographers came in under a strict COVID-19 guidelines.
The Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport donated its space, and its donors provided two homes for the musicians. “We couldn’t have done this without these partners,” he said.
O’Donovan filmed an introduction at each of the venues in New Bedford, Worcester, Providence, Rockport and Boston. Audiences can reserve tickets for the virtual A Christmas Celtic Sojourn event at their favorite venue and watch from the comfort of their homes.
Among the featured musicians are Seamus Egan, Maeve Gilchrist, Natalie Haas, Chico Huff, Owen Marshall and Jenna Moynihan. The performances will be enhanced by recordings from musicians O’Donovan has partnered with before — from Edinburgh, County Kerry and Sligo.
“Our motivation in producing this show — which is very fraught with technological, logistical and safety concerns — is to bring some comfort and joy to the audiences.”
The performances will not be the usual high-kicking, exuberant shows of late but attuned to people’s feelings during a pandemic, O’Donovan said.
“It will be particularly important this year, at the darkest time of year,” he said. “We have all been in a mire of trepidation. It’s so important to celebrate hope and the coming of the light.”
Music has transformative powers, he said.
“It can make people reflect on their life circumstances, and it can amplify those feelings to the point of catharsis.”
GBH will share the proceeds of the event with the musicians and concert venues, hoping to reveal a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.
“There’s a currency of hope that’s required in times like these,” O’Donovan said. “People need to see that hope is alive and that we’re not just looking back at the past.”
Purchase tickets here.