Red Deer Symphony Orchestra presents ‘A Celtic Christmas’

The Red Deer Symphony Orchestra is celebrating the holidays with a Celtic slant this year.

‘A Celtic Christmas’ runs Dec. 12th at the Red Deer College Arts Centre, starting at 8 p.m.

The RDSO is welcoming Edmonton-based Celtic harpist and singer Keri Lynn Zwicker to perform with the orchestra for the concert. Zwicker is known as ‘the chameleon Canadian harpchick’ – she covers it all from Celtic to classical, from Irish pub to the Winspear, from symphony to Ceili, while wearing everything from cowboy boots to angel’s wings.

The RDSO will take the stage at the RDC Arts Centre with Zwicker to deliver a delightful seasonal program with an entirely Celtic twist.

The program features original works by the RDSO’s own Maestro Claude Lapalme and Zwicker, intertwined with an selection of traditional holiday, Irish, Scottish and Welsh pieces. Highlights include Fantasy on Celtic Tunes, I Saw Three Ships, Welsh Lullaby, Huron Carole, Do You Hear What I Hear and Highland Mary.

“We are doing 14 pieces that Claude has arranged – half of them are Celtic and half of them are Christmas. It’s exactly what I want to do – a bit of a variety show. We’ll be doing songs from France, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and South America – everything from fast instrumentals to slow, haunting ballads. Some are with singing, some are instrumental.”

Interestingly, Zwicker didn’t really take up the harp until her university days when she was 17 years old – she had studied piano for several years and up till then, that was her primary focus.

“I started piano when I was five,” she said. “I was already accepted into university for performance piano, and then I started to dabble in Celtic music and I found that the harp was better suited for accompanying my singing.

“The harp is really nice for the Celtic style.”

Zwicker said she also tends to play the harp in a more rhythmic style than audiences might expect.

“My style is a lot more upbeat than what you might normally see.”

The concert also highlights RDSO percussionist Rob Maciak in a display that is sure to prime the audience for an evening of high quality and highly entertaining seasonal symphonic music. Zwicker’s husband Nathan McCavana will also be joining her as well on Irish drum.

Meanwhile, for Zwicker, there couldn’t be a better instrument to match her exquisite skills as an artist.

“I also like surprising people with what the harp can do – the capabilities of the instrument – the different kinds of rhythms and sounds you can get out of it.”

Raffle tickets to win the Christmas themed prize package will be also sold in the lobby with the draw occurring upon conclusion of the concert. Donations of canned goods for the Red Deer Food Bank will be accepted in the lobby.

A limited number of tickets for this concert are available through the Black Knight Ticket Centre, 2929 – 50th Ave. Charge by phone at 403-755-6626 or 1-800-661-8793, or go online at

Looking ahead, the RDSO’s next performance is set for Feb. 6th at Gaetz Memorial United Church at 8 p.m. The concert, entitled Handel Celebration, will feature Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No. 2 and Dixit Dominus. Guest artists include Early Music Voices.

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