News Release: Arts and Humanities, Events

Dec. 11,  2009

Celtic Christmas Concerts on Tap at Emory

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The Celtic world meets Appalachia at the 17th Annual Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert at Emory University's Schwartz Center for Performing Arts Dec. 11-13.

Top regional performers join Grammy Award-winning banjo virtuoso Alison Brown, genre-bending bluesy and jazz-inflected Appalachian hipsters Leah and Chloe Smith (R.I.S.E. to their many fans), madcap string player and percussionist Joe Craven and noted Irish classical pianist J. J. Sheridan in a program of non-stop delight.

The concerts take place at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11 and Saturday, Dec. 12, and at 2:30 p.m. Sun., Dec. 13. For ticket information call the Arts at Emory Box Office at 404.727.5050.


Over the past 16 years the Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert has become one of the most popular events of the holiday season. Called by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution "a reverent yet rollicking time," the concert celebrates, through music, dance, poetry, song and story, the high spirits and mystical beauty of the Celtic and Appalachian Christmas traditions.

The Artists

Alison Brown typifies the innovative programming that is a hallmark of the concert. Recognized as one of the great performers on the five-string banjo, in 1991 Brown became the first woman ever to win the Bluegrass Music Association's Instrumentalist of the Year Award. A graduate of Harvard University and the holder of an MBA from UCLA, in 1993 she and her husband Garry West founded Compass Records, recognized today as one of the most prestigious roots-music labels in the country. Brown has recorded eight critically acclaimed solo albums, including the 2001 Grammy Award-winning "Fair Weather."

Native Atlantans Leah and Chloe Smith were raised on Southern mountain tunes by their fiddling mother Jan (who also appears in the Concert with the Rosin Sisters and their old time favorites).  Their gorgeously funky arrangements of original songs as well as Appalachian, African and traditional folk classics have won them international acclaim.  As vivacious as they are compelling, R.I.S.E. was voted 2008 Green Album of the Year by the Huffington Post.  Creative Loafing also chose them as "Atlanta's Best Folk Act" in 2007 and 2008.

Joe Craven, another native Atlantan, is known as a brilliantly inventive performer on everything from the fiddle and mandolin to tin cans, bedpans, squeeze toys, animal bones, umbrella stands and even himself.  He is also a captivating storyteller with an unparalleled gift for drawing audiences into his performances.  An advocate of the folk arts and an educator in the arts, Craven is committed to enabling people to tell their own stories.  He has recorded with artists ranging from jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli to Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia to those icons of a capella close harmony, The Persuasions.

J. J. Sheridan is one of Ireland's leading classical pianists, composers and arrangers.  His recordings include the award-winning "Complete Works of Turlough O'Carolan."  Known as "the last of the Irish bards," Sheridan's extraordinary versatility as a performer has led to engagements with the likes of the Radio-Eireann National Orchestra, the legendary choral conductor Robert Shaw, Metropolitan Opera diva Beverly Sills and the great jazz pianist Teddy Wilson.  Sheridan makes his residence in Atlanta.

Additional Holiday Event at Emory

"Father Christmas' Favorite Chamber Music"

  • Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta Family Series
  • Sun., Dec. 13, 2009, 4 p.m., Michael C. Carlos Museum, 571 Kilgo Cir., Atlanta, 30322, 404.727.5050,,
  • Tickets: $4 (Museum Family-level and above members receive 4 free tickets).
  • England's Santa Claus gives out holiday treats after the Vega String Quartet performs. Chamber Music concerts at the Carlos Museum are sponsored in part by a grant from the Christian Human Foundation. 


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