Madrigal Feast concert continues medieval, Christmas traditions

Curran Nielsen, Editor-in-Chief

Hundreds of student voices echo from within the Chapman University’s Memorial Hall as Christmas trees and lights glimmer around the stage. The students, all members of the various school choirs, are dressed in colorful medieval attire reminiscent of a performance at a royal court.

The concert, the choral program’s annual Madrigal Feast, is a Christmas-themed night of entertainment, complete with a dinner and show.

Now in its 29th year, the concert continues many traditions that connect current and past choir singers. For example, songs such as “Come Thou Fount” and “Peace Peace” are considered some of the most important traditions during the show, choral director Justin Miller said.

“’Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing’ is a big opening number that is a really great tradition and we sing ‘Peace, Peace’ at the end and everyone links pinkies and we surround the audience,” Miller said. “It’s just a really heartwarming song that we sing at this time of the year.”

The show also features other traditions like the family crest shields of the Chambers Singers that line the concert hall. As the “royal court” of the performance, the Chambers Singers also select their own king and queen every year.

Senior Chamber singers also get the opportunity to sing wassails, a medieval term which means ‘to bring good health,’ during the dinner show before the performance. The wassails are a way for the seniors to show their gratitude to both their family, friends and teachers.

“…the senior chamber singers get the opportunity to sing a little tribute to friends and family as kind of a thank you,” Miller said. “It’s always tear inducing.”

Since the rehearsals for Madrigal Feast are usually long and run for about a week before the show, many choir memories are made both during the show and while backstage. 

“I like everything onstage, but I think the memories are truly made offstage when you just get to hang out, that’s my favorite part, just getting to know people,” senior Chambers singer Cammie Martinez said.

Mad Feast is also a tradition for many school families as a way for them to celebrate the holidays.

”It’s a joyous occasion where people come together and share a common love for music,” sophomore Concert Choir singer Tait Vigeland said.

Miller’s favorite tradition is when the entire choral program and audience get to sing together at the end of the show.

“Toward the end of the show, we always pick something that the audience can sing along to,” Miller said. “That’s always just kind of fun because, not only do we get the audience to sing, but every part of the show is also singing or playing, so this is the one piece that handbells is ringing, where the professional orchestra is playing, all the choirs are singing, the audience is singing, so it’s just kind of a fun little thing.”

Madrigal Feast runs tonight through Sunday. Tickets are $15 for students and $25 for adults; to purchase tickets, click here.