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Celtic Woman tour more than just a Christmas show

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:51 p.m.
Celtic Woman presents “A Christmas Celebration — The Celtic Woman Symphony Tour,” on Dec. 3 and 4 at Heinz Hall. Credit: Pittsburgh Symphony

Mairead Nesbitt would seem to know a bit about fiddling, being the quick-stepping, violin-of-the-wisp of Celtic Woman.

So, it is only fitting that she talks about the current shows of the popular Irish singers as “a symphony tour” more than a Christmas show. She says that aspect is the key to the concerts.

“I did a concert in Bern, Switzerland, two years ago, and when the orchestra started playing, it made the hair on the back of your head stand up,” she says of a solo date. “I just love that kind of a feeling.”

Even though Christmas music makes up the great part of these shows, dubbed “A Christmas Celebration — The Celtic Woman Symphony Tour,” she talks about them more fondly because they give the Gaelic gals a month to play with orchestras.

“It is such a great pleasure working with orchestras like the one in Pittsburgh,” she says of shows Monday and Tuesday with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall.

The appearances give them the chance to do arrangements such as on “Carol of the Bells,” which she says starts off with “me and my own" — meaning her and the violin — before rolling into a full orchestration.

It also gives them the possibility to do some of the Celtic material for which they are better known but with bigger accompaniment.

The quartet — Nesbitt, Susan McFadden, Lisa Lambe and Chloe Agnew — will perform 16 of these shows through December in symphony halls such as Pittsburgh's and Atlanta's, the MGM Grand in Connecticut and resorts in California.

They have a little more than a month off before beginning about six months on the road in North America. That tour, includes a stop March 26 in Pittsburgh at a site yet to be decided.

Wherever it may be, the foursome probably will be comfortable. In 2005, the first year of touring, they appeared at the Byham Theater, Downtown, and they have moved to two nights of concerts at the Benedum Center and then to shows at Mellon Arena and Consol Energy Center.

Nesbitt does not sound worried about the site for the show. Wherever it is, it will be a different show from the symphony tour, so the quartet can return to Irish classics or hits with a Celtic flavor that have made them famous.

“We can just do our mega-show,” she says with a laugh.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

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