The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 26, 2013

Madrigal 'lords and ladies' to reunite

BY MARY WICOFF mwicoff@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — Students who participated in Danville High School’s madrigal dinners/shows the past 30-plus years look back on that experience fondly.

“Many of the students in Madrigal say, ‘It’s just my favorite thing to do,’” said Marty Lindvahl, former choral director at Danville High School.

“The evening is just magical. There’s something warm and magical about it.”

Those fond memories led Lindvahl and Andrew Seibert, a former student, to come up with the idea for the first madrigal reunion. All former madrigal singers, jesters, brass and string players who participated in the DHS Madrigals from its start in the 1970s until now are invited to the reunion.

It will begin at 5 p.m. Friday at St. James United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. The agenda is: doors open at 4:45 p.m., with check-in; group singing at 5 p.m.; doxology (blessing of the food) at 5:55 p.m., and the feast at 6 p.m.

Participants will sing the traditional collection of madrigals that has been a part of every dinner. The host committee will select a few additional songs and a couple of Christmas carols, as well.

Lindvahl said close to 75 people have already signed up for the reunion. Others are urged to register as soon as possible.

When talking about past performances, Lindvahl and Seibert decided, she said, “It would be fun to get together. There’ll be singing and food and fellowship and dessert.”

Larry Voorhees, choral director from 1981-99, said, “I do have fond memories.” Like Lindvahl, he said former students have indicated that the madrigal performance was among their favorite activities.

The format has stayed pretty much the same since the first madrigal dinner in the mid-1970s, he said. The medieval-style Christmas program combines traditional holiday music with modern music sung a capella by students in medieval clothing while audience members enjoy a full dinner show.

This year, the madrigal dinners will be Dec. 2, 3 and 4, and a dessert-only show on Dec. 5.

Start to the season

The program starts with a processional, and a master of revelry keeps the program moving along. After the blessing, the salads are served, and guests are treated to musical numbers. A papier-mache boar’s head is brought in, and the guests enjoy the main course.

There’s a jester and other roving entertainers, including brass and string musicians, who mingle with the guests. The students sing and perform between the courses, and sing Christmas pieces after the dessert, Voorhees said. The program ends with “Silent Night.”

Voorhees said DHS has always had an active parents’ group that helps make the evening a success.

Lindvahl agreed, saying, “It’s really wonderful. The kids do a great job and the parents do a nice job.”

A traditional madrigal has 16 people, but the DHS program has doubled in size to about 32 singers, Lindvahl said.

Why do students have such fond memories of their madrigal days?

“It’s beautiful music. It’s very challenging music, which I think the kids enjoy,” she said. “It’s just so different from what they’re used to singing.”

Besides, the atmosphere — with exotic costumes and candelight — is magical.

“It’s a great way to start out the Christmas season,” Lindvahl said.

The students also become a close-knit group as they rehearse and perform, she added.

The school’s choral music program has a strong and proud legacy, she said, adding, “Today, the program continues to thrive and grow and is a source of great pride, not only for DHS but for the entire Danville community. Many of us look back on our time at DHS and remember the experiences we had in the choral program as the highlight of those four years.”

To register Registration is required by going to: http://dhschoralalumni.weebly.com/events.html. A $10 donation is requested to offset the cost of the dinner. People are asked to register as soon as possible. For more information, go to the DHS Choral Alumni website: www.dhschoralalumni.org