When I was in college, one of the unique Christmas events was a series of madrigal feasts replete with Renaissance music, troubadours, jesters, and, of course, a meal that included the procession of the roast boar – in actuality, a large Indiana hog. Effective all the same.

The event originated in 1947 in what we now call the Early Music movement, and soon evolved into its Elizabethan splendor, drawing (as I recall) 550 people to each sitting over a two- or three-week period. And it was quite colorfully memorable.

Alas, by the beginning of the 21st century, the dinners had become history – in part, I assume, because of the academic pressures of a reconfigured semester that now ended before Christmas, rather than two weeks later. (A change I applaud, all the same – having finals hanging over you during your so-called vacation was tortuous, as was returning for two weeks, leaving, and coming right back to register.)

Still, it has me thinking of the many holiday events that now sustain American arts organizations – the Nutcracker ballet at the top of the list, of course, and the staged Christmas Carol or Holiday Pops concerts. As well as the big collapse most people seem to suffer for two or three weeks after.

4 thoughts on “MADRIGAL DINNERS

  1. The choirs in my high school did a grand Madrigal Dinner every year — must have been an Indiana thing. It was a lovely custom. Too bad no one seems to do it any more.

    As for holiday arts traditions, don’t forget Handel’s Messiah. Many communities have sing-alongs, which can be quite a lot of fun.

  2. I used to sing in a Madrigal Ensemble, and keep wanting to find some like minded troubadours to resurrect interest. Great memories! Thank you.

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