The Saint Mary’s Department of Music will present their 44th annual Madrigal Christmas Dinner Celebration in the North Lounge of Regina Hall this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.According to Nancy Menk, the chair of the music department and the person responsible for putting the program together, the dinner — like other madrigal dinners — is a re-creation of a 16th century holiday feast. “The idea is that it takes place in a manor and the lord of the manor hosts guests from the community,” she said. “The dinner includes entertainment, instruments, dancers and there is sort of a little play going on during the dinner.”The choir group who performs at the dinner, or the “Madrigals,” have been rehearsing for the dinner since October, sophomore Riley Harber said.“I do women’s choir four hours a week and this is an additional two, which is challenging, but definitely worth it,” Harber, a member of the Madrigals, said. “It’s fun to be immersed in the middle ages atmosphere.”This year’s dinner will mark Menk’s 33rd year of involvement with the dinner at Saint Mary’s. Over the years, she said she has seen the performance change for the better.The Madrigals used to be a mixed group, including men and women from both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. This tradition changed 10 years ago to make the group an all-women’s choir.“We changed it to all women so more Saint Mary’s girls could be involved,” she said.The night also used to include an opera during the dinner.“Apparently, before I came they would do a little opera during the dinner — back then it was an extended evening,” she said. “Over the years we’ve added dancers, changed the scenery and have improved it.”Laurie Lowry, a senior lecturer for dance at Saint Mary’s, has been the choreographer of the dinner for the past five years. She said dance brings another element to the dinner.“I think it’s really fun to look at another element in the arts,” she said. “The audience can sit back and enjoy the music and the patterns.“Early dance like that wasn’t really elaborate, but it’s tricky. It puts a different take on what the audience feels and sees.”Menk said madrigal dinners used to be more prominent among schools, which is why its preservation at Saint Mary’s is imperative.“Maybe 20 to 30 years ago, there were more madrigal dinners taking place, but some of them have died away,” she said. “It gives the students a chance to sing repertoire from a different era, which we don’t usually do.”Lowry agreed the Saint Mary’s tradition should be preserved not only for the fun, but for the historical experience.“I think the ones that are in it get a sense of the history of music, the history of dance and so they have a true experience that is happening,” she said. “They’re not just studying it in a history book — they experience it.”Lowry said she uses this method of experience in her classes as well.“I make my students go to the dance floor to experience the genre we are working,” she said. “Unless you experience it, you don’t really understand that.”Lowry said the experience is not only for the actors, but for the audience members as well.“I think that our society right now is so far away from history that regenerating the reality of the tradition of that period gives a sense of what it was like to live back then,” Lowry said. “And it’s just a fun Christmas tradition — it’s different rather than going to a movie or the mall.”The menu includes traditional Renaissance foods such as Cornish game hen, roast beef au jus, roasted vegetables and “wassail,” a traditional hot apple cider.Harber said the dinner helps her get into the holiday spirit, and she hopes it does the same for others.“When I was a kid my dad would always take me to Renaissance fairs, and in high school I always thought it was cool but I never got to participate, so when I got the opportunity I thought I would take advantage of it,” she said. “The Christmas spirit is alive even though it’s not really close to Christmas. I hope people go and have a good time, eat some food, get some laughs and I hope they get the same magical Christmas energy out of it that I do.”Tags: Christmas Madrigal, nancy menk, SMC Department of Music
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Winners can be found online under their home state and town at www.walmartfoundation.org under “Community Scholarships.” Rotary Club names scholarship winner WHITTIER – The Rotary Club of Whittier awarded a $1,000 scholarship check to Rio Hondo College student David Livi. Livi’s goal is to become a firefighter, scholarship officials said. Groups donate books for library PICO RIVERA – The Whittier Sunrise Rotary club and the Rotary Club of Pico Rivera recently donated 1,000 new books to the Sgt. Arthur A. Mora Jr. Library at Obregon Elementary School. Officials said they were spurred to action after an article in this newspaper on the school library mentioned the shelves were “a bit bare.” Both groups raised a total of $2,150 for new books, and matching amounts were obtained through the Reading by 9 Foundation and Scholastic Books. The books were donated recently during the school’s annual open house, officials said. Local teens earn McDonald’s funds HOLLYWOOD – Two Whittier-area students were among 85 Southern California high school seniors recently awarded $2,000 scholarships by the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California. Jessica Carrillo of Whittier and Jasmine Reynoso of Norwalk received the scholarships for their commitment to academics, leadership and community involvement. This year’s recipients were chosen from a field of more than 1,800 applicants in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura. Since 1990, more than $2.1 million in scholarships have been awarded by RMHCSC to seniors through four programs. Host families needed locally LOS ANGELES – The Pacific Intercultural Exchange is seeking local families to host foreign exchange students between the ages of 15 and 18. Students are matched to host families through common interests and lifestyles during an informal in-home meeting. Host families can also review student applications and select a match. Host families can claim a $50 per month charitable deduction on their tax returns. For more information, call (800) 631-1818. If you have an event or notice deserving attention, write us! Send your notice to Tracy Garcia, education reporter, at 7612 Greenleaf Ave., Whittier, CA 90602. You may call the office at (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051, or send e-mail to email@example.comWant local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LOS ANGELES – Six Whittier-area students were among 66 throughout the county who were awarded $1,000 Sam Walton Community Scholarships by Wal-Mart. Local recipients were La Habra resident Jayson De Guzman of La Mirada High; La Habra resident Alyse Pivovarnik of La Habra High; Norwalk residents Desiree Bautista and Jacqueline Galvez, both of Glenn High; and Santa Fe Springs residents Franz Schweis of La Serna High and Ching Wong of Whittier High. An independent panel of judges from Scholarship Program Administrators selected the recipients based on financial need, academic record, ACT/SAT test scores, and school and community involvement. Wal-Mart is awarding more than $342,000 in scholarships to California students this year.