“Madrigal Feaste” A Feast for Ears
More than 70 people enjoyed a “Madrigal Feaste” put on by singers and staff at Hiwassee College Thursday. As Hiwassee College President Dr. Robin Tricoli said at the end of the applauded event, the production had been put on in previous years. She thanked everyone for attending.
It was slightly after 6 p.m. when the processional began. The singers – also known on occasion as the Shalom Ensemble – slowly walked past the diners as interesting medieval flute music played. The performers were naturally striking in their medieval attire.
“The time is 1655; the place is England,” said the “jester.” “So come alive and take a setting that is right … for all too soon comes ‘morrow’s day.”
The “Duke’s Fool” or “Jester” was actually Aaron Vanlandingham, who then read several rules of etiquette in the dimly-lit cafeteria at Rymer Student Center. The rules included “See that thy knife is clean and sharp” and “”Blow not on thy food” as well as “Do not roll meat around in thy mouth for companions to see.”
“Did you know that telling bad jokes can make you go deaf?” one of the performers said.
“I‘m sorry; I’m a little hard of hearing,” said the jester.
The “Duke and His Court” (besides Vanlandingham) were Brandon Keys and Mia Sage Lowry (the Duke and Duchess). The “Duke’s Singers” were Serena Carroll, Lauren Doyle, Nicole Hoover, Michael Armstrong, Abel Carrico, Wade Jolley, Bethany Allen, Kara Anderson, Kara Pomeroy, Ryan Queen, Micah Montague, and Rudy Valentino. Keys, Lowry, Watson, and Queen are Hiwassee alumni. The singers were led by Alan Eleazer, assistant professor of music, also dressed in appropriate attire.
The performers were in fine harmony as they opened with “Gloucestershire Wassail.” Next came “The Boar’s Head Carol” which was accompanied by a story. “Their voices are so beautiful,” said one woman at a table. A dinner of pork tenderloins followed, catered by Deborah Lail of the college food services and served by the Rymer staff and student volunteers. The singers went around the tables to see if everyone was festive. There was then pounding on the tables to signal the coming of another carol, which was “Joy to the World,” for which the lyrics were printed on the program.
More songs followed: “Master in This Hall,” “Carol of the Bells,” “God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen” (with Doyle as soloist), “Some Children See Him” (Hoover as soloist), Away in a Manger” (Carroll as soloist). There were two numbers from P.D.Q. Bach, “Throw the Yule Log On, Uncle John“ and “Good King Kong Looked Out.”
At the request of the Duke and Duchess, the jester quoted a humorous poem, “Twas the Night Before Solstice,” ending with the request, “Happy Christmas to all but get over yourselves!” When dessert time rolled around, “Fruitcake” was performed. The performers closed with “Coventry Carol.”
The performers sang in a slow moan as they exited. Dr. Tricoli then spoke, thanking the singers for the “Hiwassee tradition” and calling it an “unbelievable and valiant effort.” The singers received more applause as they returned to the room.
Also acknowledged for their assistance were Micah Montague, Instructor of Communications and Theatre; Dr. Eun-Suk Jung, Accompanist; Dr. Beth Scruggs, Vice President and Academic Dean; Dr. Curtis Chapman, English and Fine Arts Department Head. Katherine Frank, Assistant Professor of Language and Literature, also assisted.
“Oh, I thought it was excellent,” said Jack Porter of Madisonville. “Oh goodness. My wife said it was like attending your children’s recital.”
“That’s because we saw most of these kids grow up,” Mrs. Ruth Porter said.
“I enjoyed it,” said Cristal Harrill, also of Madisonville. “The food was great.”
“I had a great time,” said daughter Lucy Harrill, who came to the show to celebrate her 14th birthday. “I give it a 10.”
by Greg Altum
Courtesy of The Monroe County Buzz