A Madrigal Dinner

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    Feb 09, 2012 2:08 PM GMT
    Miami-Dade County has the largest "magnet" school district in the US. Students gifted in the arts are bused to designated schools that have a special emphasis in these fields. Because adequately funded & staffed programs for music and the performing arts could not be otherwise supported equally in every single school throughout the region.

    So the school district concentrates them in just a few schools to produce both economy & higher quality. The model is not unlike what many colleges do.

    My husband's best friend heads one of these magnet programs for music at a high school. Last night his students produced a Madrigal Supper, which was our friend's innovation a few years ago, and we attend it annually. It's sorta like dinner theatre.

    The students are all dressed in European Renaissance costumes, while they serve a meal to the audience seated at long tables, banquet style. (Our friend's husband volunteers supervising the meal prep back in the kitchen, keeping the ticket cost low).

    The entire time the students are taking turns with entertainments, from vocals to instrumentals. Meanwhile an appropriately costumed "joker" or "fool" is circulating among the tables with tricks and silliness. There is a castle-like setting, and the whole effect is intended to evoke a royal or baronial dining hall of that period.

    The students perform very complex polyphonic choral pieces, which our friend (a music PhD) contends helps them to master their voices better for use in contemporary music, as well. His graduates have gone on to the finest university music programs in the US, and successful careers.

    So we attended this last night (Wed) and it was just so much fun. And knowing also that the money the students raised will be used for trips where they perform for audiences in places like Washington, DC.

    Sure, the students could just sing statically on risers (bleachers) on a stage, but this dressing up and play acting really excites & motivates them. They are still half-kids, after all.
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    Feb 09, 2012 2:21 PM GMT
    Love those Madrigal dinners, especially around Christmas time!
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    Feb 09, 2012 2:35 PM GMT
    mileshelvetica saidLove those Madrigal dinners, especially around Christmas time!

    Where have you attended them? They are just so wonderful, I encourage attending them when you can. I love doing something that is different & festive, rather than dull & fashionless.
  • musicdude

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    Feb 09, 2012 2:47 PM GMT
    i'm jealous! i would love to teach at a school like that and if there were school performances like that in my area i would totally attend. madrigal dinners are a super good idea
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    Feb 09, 2012 6:30 PM GMT
    Was a part of a madrigal dinner in high school. It was a lot of fun. Glad other schools do them too.
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    Feb 09, 2012 8:14 PM GMT
    MooreBeast saidWas a part of a madrigal dinner in high school. It was a lot of fun. Glad other schools do them too.

    Well aside from the musical opportunities it presents these students, it also exposes them to an historical era in a tangible way, rather than just via some words on a page.
  • beaujangle

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    Feb 09, 2012 8:35 PM GMT
    Thanks for sharing this as I have never heard of this kind of event before. I google searched and found this youtube clip. Is this similar to what you just attended? It is so cool!

  • LJay

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    Feb 09, 2012 8:53 PM GMT
    Did that at church also, with the senior choir. It was very popular with the attendees and worked well.
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    Feb 09, 2012 9:10 PM GMT
    beaujangle saidThanks for sharing this as I have never heard of this kind of event before. I google searched and found this youtube clip. Is this similar to what you just attended? It is so cool!


    This is exactly what we had. It's Medieval/Renaissance polyphony, voices without musical accompaniment. (Though we also also had instrumental performances, a solo celist absolutely bringing the house down) And the participants all in period costumes.

    It is indeed cool. And very beautiful. Plus wonderful to know these "kids" are so talented, and going on to great things in their lives. If I ever hate being old (and I do a lot), it's envying these kids and the rich lives they have before them. And so you shed a tear hearing the beauty of it, and the regret that it has passed you by.