Celtic Classic Weekend – it’s not just another music festival.

Did you know that today more than 44 million Americans claim Irish heritage? The first Celtic immigrants, who were of Scottish and Irish decent, arrived in the Lehigh Valley circa 1728 from the northern providence of Ulster. Today the Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Cornish remain a dominant force, comprising nearly 30% of the Lehigh Valley population.

This weekend marks the 23rd annual Celtic Classic presented by the Celtic Cultural Alliance. Music, food, dance, athletes, piping bands, theatre, film, contests are all part of a variety of activities to explore over the weekend. I hear that this year, the athletes may be breaking some world records. If you’ve never seen a caber toss; it’s kind of like throwing a telephone pole for distance. But it only counts if the pole is flipped. And… the men compete in kilts.

News for local tech freaks: the first ever mobile app for an area festival was developed and launched last week. This can be uploaded for free for all iPhone and Android users by typing http://www.celtifest.org on your mobile browser. If you’re a geek like me, you’ll love to see how this helps you plan your Celtic Classic experience. If you don’t have one of the phones, check out the bands listed and give them a little listen. The music ranges from traditional to outrageous. Don’t miss the closing act – the  No, that’s not a typo.

The festival grounds are just over the river. You’ll see the tents from either Hill to Hill or Fahy bridge. If walking is too far for you, Lehigh students can also purchase a Loop Bus pass and ride all day for just $3. Here’s a map to show you where to hop on the bus. If you want to really get inside the festival, they are still looking for volunteers. Each 4 hour volunteer shift gets you a t-shirt and $5 of food and beverage tickets. They also have a special request for anyone able to lift 30lbs – if you want to be close to the action, give me a call.

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Don Draper would see this opera

Do you watch Mad Men? Aside from the drama of the story line, have you observed a specific interpretation of an American style and culture from the early 1960s? This slice of American history is served up in a delightful one-act opera this weekend at Zoellner. The opera is based on an episode of a popular T.V. program, the Dick Van Dyke Show. If you watch it, pay attention to the mannerisms of each character so you can see how Lehigh University faculty member Paul Salerni (composer), Kate Light (Librettist) and the cast adapt and interpret this well-loved icon of early American television.

Another perspective of the performance is that it’s a premier. We are lucky enough to see it’s first performance and to celebrate this achievement. Salerni wrote this opera as a companion piece to his award winning one act opera, “Tony Caruso’s Final Broadcast.” The Monocacy Chamber Orchestra will accompany a fine cast, many of whom also sing with the New York City Opera.

And if that doesn’t whet your appetite enough, the program is preceded by an incredible performance from Lehigh University’s extraordinary conductor and pianist, Eugene Albulescu. He will present the Brahms Piano Quintet with the Iannis String Quartet.

You don’t need to wear gloves or a tuxedo to this event. But if you were Don Draper’s date, you would. Yes, Don Draper would see this opera. Are you as smooth and charming as he?