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Harping on about the holidays

Published on December 5, 2017 1:33PM

Emmy nominee and master harp guitarist John Doan will take to the stage in Newport this weekend to put a range of vintage instruments through their paces in “Christmas Unplugged.”

Hosted by the Newport Symphony Orchestra at the Ocean, this festive concert is a live version of Doan’s Emmy-nominated Public Broadcasting television special, which re-enacts what it might have been like to celebrate Christmas a century ago.

“The show explores how Victorians invented many Christmas traditions we remember and quite a few we have forgotten,” Doan said. “The 20-string harp guitar, classical banjo and ukelin are just a few of the original instruments that will be featured. The aim is to recapture the feeling of a time before radio and TV when our ancestors provided most of their own musical entertainment at home, especially during the holidays.”

Doan plays more than a dozen turn-of-the-century instruments once popular in American parlors, on vaudeville stages and in mandolin orchestras. He explains their history in an entertaining and often zany fashion, shows slides of old catalogues and archival photographs, and leads the audience in singing or whistling some much-beloved carols. Doan will include several arrangements from his album “Wrapped in White: Visions of Christmas Past.”

As well as being associate professor of Music at Willamette University in Salem, Doan is a touring and recording artist who has appeared on radio and television across the country, including the PBS special, “A Christmas To Remember With John Doan” and the Emmy-nominated Oregon Public Broadcasting special, “A Victorian Christmas With John Doan.”

Performances will take place at 7:30 pm on Saturday, Dec. 9, and 2 pm on Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Newport Performing Arts Center, 777 W Olive Street.

Tickets, $25 and $39 plus ticket fees; or $10 for students, are available at the box office, by calling 541-265-2787 or online at NewportSymphony.org.

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