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Madrigals return to College for 38th year

Ashley Charnley | Thursday, December 2, 2010

The holidays are a time of tradition, and Saint Mary’s College has celebrated the Christmas season with its Madrigal Christmas Dinners for the past 38 years.

Nancy Menk, a Saint Mary’s music professor and musical director for the Madrigal singers in the show, said the dinner show is a “festive” occasion.

“People come back year after year for the show,” Menk said. “It becomes part of their Christmas tradition for some.”

The shows will be held in Regina North Lounge in Regina Hall Dec. 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 5 at 2 p.m.

According to Menk, Regina North has been “transformed” for the dinners.

“It’s completely redecorated. There are wreaths and garlands and it is bathed in candlelight,” Menk said. “It looks like a Renaissance banquet hall.”

The Renaissance theme of the event is carried throughout the show and the menu. “Welcome, welcome, every guest, welcome to our music feast. Music is our only cheer; fill both soul and ravished ear,” the event’s invitation reads. “The performers strive to make it as authentic as possible, Gwen O’Brien, Saint Mary’s director of media relations, said.

“This holiday favorite ‘transports’ guests to a medieval castle where a grand meal is served as the master of the house greets his guests, jugglers perform and groups of singers burst into song,” O’Brien said.

“The Saint Mary’s College Madrigal Singers — joined by the Early Music Ensemble from Andrews University — perform music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in a 21st century reenactment of the Renaissance feasts hosted in the great baronial halls throughout England during the 12 days of Christmas,” O’Brien said.

The event includes dinner and a show, put on mostly by students, she said. It will feature the Saint Mary’s women’s choir, theater students and Andrews University students will play period instruments.

The singers and actors have been preparing since October, O’Brien said.

“It’s a good chance for students to learn earlier pieces … sing a cappella and perform undirected,” Menk said.