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Bells & Motley revel in music of Christmas past Saturday at Kellish Hill

— When Kathy Kellish promises an “old-fashioned Christmas celebration,” she’s not kidding. In this case, “old-fashioned” means all the way back to the Renaissance.

Husband-and-wife duo John and Sondra Bromka of Marcellus will headline the Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration at Kellish Hill Farm at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the music barn at 3192 Pompey Center Road, outside Manlius.

On Saturday, the duo will delight with “Revels of Christmas Past,” a program of spirited music, traditional customs, pageantry and participatory dances that have illuminated mid-winter celebrations down through ages.

The Bromkas have performed medieval music for more than 30 years. The two well-seasoned musicologists also build historic instruments and write musical plays and pageants.

At Kellish Hill they’ll likely play French dance carols accompanied by Norman bagpipes and rustic oboe in a duet of the shepherds. To revive the sounds of Victorian holidays, they’ll coax tunes from concertinas, fiddles and hammered dulcimers. And their rendition of the traditional carol “Good King Wenceslas” will take on a haunting aspect as performed on hurdy-gurdy and harp.

“In the glow of a Yule Log fire, real or imagined, people feel their way back through the passages of time to Christmases of old,” said Sondra Bromka. “In this hubbub that is modern America, during the Christmas season we’re beckoned to the symbolic celebrations of centuries past.”

In 1993, Bells & Motley released a holiday disc, “Wassail: Yuletide Music of Yore,” showcasing a baker’s dozen tunes such as “Drive the Cold Winter Away,” a 17th century British carol, and “Heigh Ho Holiday,” a Renaissance tune written for lute and embellished with pennywhistle and recorder.

Over the years the duo has appeared at the Old Songs Festival in Altamont, N.Y., the New England Folk Festival, the Hunter Mountain Celtic Festival and the Sterling Renaissance Festival, where they’ve been featured annually since its inception 1977; bellsandmotley.com/.

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