Celtic composers collaborate with classic rock producer

A Canadian couple of Celtic musicians found an invaluable teammate to write an album with

After more than 12 years of marriage

A Canadian couple of Celtic musicians found an invaluable teammate to write an album with – and they’ll be showing off their new work in Penticton.

Before they were married, Donnell Leahy and Natalie MacMaster met through a fluke encounter as teenagers, but went their separate ways and both built strong musical careers for themselves. After they reconnected as adults and became life partners, 12 years of matrimony had passed before they recorded an album together. Though they were sure not to rush a good thing – through another lucky encounter, the couple was able to team up with producer Bob Ezrin, whose most notable clients include Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, and Deep Purple. Ezrin called upon Justin Cortelyou to co-produce the album, whose resume includes recordings with Taylor Swift, Ke$ha and Alan Jackson.

The name of their album is ONE, and was originally going to feature the ideas of Leahy and MacMaster that have been brewing since the beginning of their relationship – but in teaming up with Ezrin, many new ideas came about.

“Just when we thought we had it all planned out and ready to record, we met Bob. And through him, Justin,” the couple said on their website. “After meeting, we all very quickly realized this project was meant to be a collective effort, a passion shared by all.”

While the album has been described as “fiddle-centric,” it captures captures an array of styles. Elements of rock ’n’ roll are incorporated through the use of distorted guitar on the track Fiddler’s Despair. Pastiche for Anne requires two musicians to perform on the same piano, and the percussions used to record Joyous Waltz include paint cans and a cardboard box. And while they’re both known as acclaimed instrumentalists, MacMaster made her leading vocal debut through ONE on the track Cagaran Gaolach, which is an emotionally lament song.

“This album is far beyond anything we ever imagined it being,” Leahy said.

“Bob Ezrin is so musical, truthful and honest in how he works,” said MacMaster. “He heard the music the same way we did.”

Ezrin was equally as happy over the outcome of ONE.

“Both Natalie and Donnell are truly brilliant musicians whose instruments have become a natural extension of their bodies,” he said. “They are such accomplished players that whatever they think of they can produce on their violins.  It’s absolutely magical!”

The show takes place at the Penticton Trade and Concvention Centre on Nov. 28. Tickets cost $45 and go on sale to the public on Sept 11 at 10 a.m. They can be purchased online through www.ValleyFirstTix.com; by telephone at 1-877-SOEC-TIX (763.2849) or in person at the Valley First Box Office and the Wine Country Visitor Centre.

“Creative juices were in full stream and excitement ran high,” they said in a joint statement. “What a thrill to work with this team. We are ever grateful for their enthusiasm, their natural talent, and their attention to our music. We hope you enjoy One!”


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