The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 20, 2013

Mankato harpist hosting 'Celtic Christmas' concert

Performance intended to recall pub-style atmosphere

Don't be surprised if Amy Kortuem is difficult to reach today.

Now, only 24 hours or so away from her Celtic Christmas concert on Saturday at the Mankato Events Center, the acclaimed Mankato harpist is in the midst of what those who know her call "concert lockdown."

About two days before each performance, Kortuem withdraws herself into her instrument and the music she's playing. During a ritualized routine that includes attending to each string of her harp, studying each note in her performance and visualizing those in attendance responding to her music, Kortuem said an important bond between artist, art and audience is cemented.

"For those two days, I think nothing but harp," she said. "When I feel something, I know it projects in the music. And that is so important."

Though Kortuem spends much of the year playing for weddings, funerals and church events, she reserves time for two public performances annually — one to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and one holiday performance.

For this year's St. Patrick's Day concert, Kortuem ventured into new territory, abandoning her formal concert routine for a more intimate, informal atmosphere that recalled the mood of an Irish pub. The concert sold out and, Kortuem said, proved an unmitigated success.

She's hoping to re-create that setting for Saturday's performance, which will be divided into two sections with a lengthy intermission for mingling.

In terms of content, Kortuem said her concert will cover traditional Irish jgs and dances as well as a handful of more "contemplative" numbers, including Kortuem's original composition "Solstice Lullaby."

"I like to say it's music that grips the soul," she said.

The concert will be catered (complete with mini shepherd's pies) and includes a cash bar.

Kortuem's band includes: Martha Lindberg (whistles), Sam Lawrence (Irish drum) and Marti Ryan (fiddle).

If You Go What Amy Kortuem's "Celtic Christmas" concert When 7 p.m. on Saturday (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) Where Mankato Events Center, located in the Mankato Place Mall, 12 Civic Center Plaza Tickets $20, available at Tune Town and Music Mart in Mankato and by emailing Amy Kortuem at harpist@amykortuem.com. Visit www.amykortuem.com for more info. Note A limited number of table sponsorships are also available. Contact Kortuem for more information.

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