Madrigal singers continue tradition

Madrigal singers continue tradition

As houses are adorned with Christmas lights and holiday spirit fills the air, a group of high school students have been waking up to sing carols and festive tunes every day at seven in the morning. Twenty eight singers trained hand in hand, heedless of the wind and weather, toward the performance, which was December 5th. These students had but one thing on their minds: the Madrigal Dinner.

A cherished tradition of Ames High School, Madrigal is an exclusive, all acapella group featured in three nights of good food, being merry, and jousting. Consisting of select singers from the concert chorale, Madrigal is known best for their extravagant costumes and musical precision. It takes a lot to be a part of this chic crew; including, according to senior Ben Hurd, “dedication, love of music, and vocal chords of steel.”

The audition is a long, hard process in which students must prepare two excerpts to be sung in front of judges.

According to director Steve Linn members are chosen “based on tone quality, intonation, musicianship, facial expression, [and] reliability.” So although a confident voice is necessary, Madrigal includes a strong theatrical aspect.

Due to the high number of graduates in the past year, the Madrigal 2k13 group is full of fresh faced underclassmen, including sophomore Alec Withers. “I thought it was going to be kind of intimidating singing with all these upperclassmen,” he said. “But everyone was accepting and welcoming into their special group!”

According to the queen, senior Megan Diesslin, this year differs from previous years because “a lot of the guys are new.” However, the lack of experience seemed to do no harm, as the men have “all really stepped it up” and were ready to impress on the first weekend of December.

Being the 25th anniversary of the Madrigal Dinners, the ensemble felt more nostalgia than groups past. “We have been blessed by so many great singers throughout the years,” said the director. In honor of the Ames High Alumni, the names of all those involved in Madrigal since 1989 were included of the program at the event.

Although they appeared to sing with cheer and ease, a massive amount of work was put in by these young musicians. “It’s all about being exactly what you’d expect, but better,” said Megan Diesslin. “Every detail [of the performance] matters, from the ending consonants to the smile on your face when you stop singing.” As stressful as it may sound, it all prevails in the end, when everything “clicks.”

The weekend of the Madrigal dinners would never be as successful without the immense volunteer work behind it. Parents of the singers put hours of effort in hand-sewing costumes, hanging decorations, and even lighting all 80 candles in preparation for the annual event. Along with the work of parents is the effort of many other Ames High students, including members of the band and orchestra, featured in the brass and string sections. Other choir students are involved as well, with the help of Peggy Dieter, the assistant choir director, the dinners are served by student servers – usually younger members of the choir.

Although it takes great natural musical talent to be apart of the madrigal singers, there is a lot more to the group than just fine arts. Because of all the rehearsal time, memories are made, inside jokes are born, and relationships spark. “My favorite part [of madrigal] would probably be getting to know people better and better,” said senior Josh Knight-Jones. “You kind of have to [make connections], we spend countless hours with each other.”

From the sparkly red jewellry to the mistletoe hanging above the entrance of the dining hall, from the songs of good cheer to the faces of pure festive joy, these singers are 150% holiday spirit. Madrigal was definitely a highlight during among this winter’s festivities.