Madrigal dinner brings back Renaissance music

By Brian Park
Executive In-Depth Editor|
The Prospect Madrigal singers are bringing back music from the Renaissance era with knights and pages to the annual Madrigal dinner. Bristol Court Banquets will be hosting the dinner on Dec. 16 at 5:00pm. Anyone is welcome to attend, but mostly parents, families of the singers, teachers, administration and community members register.
According to choir director Jennifer Troiano, this event has been going on for over 20 years, thanks to the singers’ dedication. The Madrigal singers even take a class allowing them to work on their repertoire to perform in the best of their ability.
The group will be performing about 27 songs at the dinner, both holiday tunes and classic Renaissance music from the 1500s to the 1600s.
“And we throw in some Eric Whitacre and we’ll throw in ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ that didn’t come out until “Meet Me in St. Louie,’ which is much later,” Troiano said. “So it’s very ecletic. It’s a bunch of different types, but it’s a lot of singing.”
In the past, the event has been very successful, according to Troiano, and about 200 people attend annually.
The dinner will consist of 4-5 different meals, including salad, soup and dessert, with concerts in between. There will also be a swordfight between the red knight and the black knight for entertainment, as well as jesters, a band and some brass players.
“It’s a structured dinner,” Troiano said. “So one thing happens and the next thing happens, and it all has a purpose that must have been going on since the 1500s that people just always do.”
As one of the special features of the dinner, people will get the opportunity to write messages to Madrigal singers or other people at different tables. The girl Madrigal singers will dress up as pages to deliver mail as well as to serve tables. The boys will dress up as knights and will carry the boar head, bring in the wassail punch bowl, and introduce other themes throughout the night.
“People write out the letters and they seal them with a wax seal, and it’s kind of old-fashioned,” Troiano said.
Senior Caitlin Claytor is one of the 20 Madrigal singers that will be participating in the dinner. She first got involved in Madrigal singers her junior year.
Writing notes for pages in “Pilsbury dough” costumes to deliver to other people is the favorite part of the dinner for Claytor. For her, it’s just like old-fashioned texting conversations when her family sends her a note, like, “How’s it going?”
“That probably shouldn’t be my favorite part, but it is,” Claytor said. “You get little feather pens and you get to pass notes.”
Both Troiano and Claytor recommends that people should attend the dinner because it will be a great experience, especially with the holiday season right around the corner.
“It really puts you in the spirit, and the music is just fabulous,” Troiano said. “There isn’t a part of it that you’re just like, ‘wow, why am I here?’ It’s just really nice, and the kids work really hard; it’s an impressive event.”
“You get food, and a dinner and a show,” Claytor said. “We are a fantastic group of singers, so you really are never disappointed with any performance.”