Madrigal: a medieval must-see

The members of Madrigal, a medieval-themed banquet, are busy preparing for their much-anticipated annual performances. They will be held the evenings of Dec. 4-6 at Northminster Presbyterian Church, right across the street from Ames High School. Guests pay $25 to eat a delicious three-course meal while being entertained by the best of Ames High singers and a jester, as well as a brass section, an orchestra ensemble and even a harpist. There are fourteen pairs of singers, including the King and Queen, and the Lord and Lady. They sing a variety of songs: some are medieval, some are holiday music, and some are just for fun, such as a song about a hen. The King and Queen are seniors Ian Herrman and Megan Paxton, respectively. According to Herrman, their job is to "just look good." Of course, they must also lead the choir by starting and ending songs. They also have some speaking parts in between the songs and are in charge of coordinating ticket sales and planning skits. Paxton has been in Madrigal for four years, and Herrman has been in it for three. It is rare for a freshman to audition successfully for Madrigal, like Paxton did. "Being in Madrigal was odd during my freshman year, since I did not know most of the other people," Paxton said. "It helped though, because as I got older, I became more assertive as a leader. That comes in handy, since now I’m the leader of the group." The Lord and Lady are seniors Rex Fernando and Mary Woeste, r espectively. Their task is to introduce the Madrigal dinner and close it as well. The singers have morning rehearsals four days a week, as well as practices on Monday evenings. Even though there is a lot of hard work involved, Madrigal is a great experience for all of its participants. "The best part is we get to sing lots of fun music, expand our musicianship, and work with great people," Paxton said. "Dressing up in fancy clothes is also a lot of fun," Herrman added. Members of Madrigal have the responsibility of creating or obtaining their own medieval costumes, resulting in quite a few busy mothers. The females wear elegant, vibrantly-colored gowns that reach the floor. The males are clad in caps, tunics, tights, and black slippers. Each pair of singers strives to at least have somewhat matching costumes. After the last Madrigal performance, the singers are far from being done. They go caroling and have gigs over the next month, singing at places such as the Northcrest Retirement Community, the middle school, and the Rotary Club. Madrigal is a great experience, for both participants and observers. "There’s good food, good entertainment, and good company," Hermann said. "It is something that students must go to at least once during their high school careers."