After 17 years, Wichita State brings back popular Madrigal Feaste

After 17 years, the Madrigal Singers of Wichita State University will host an Elizabethan-themed dinner and music program at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3 at the Rhatigan Student Center Beggs Ballroom.

The Madrigal Feaste is also produced and performed by WSU’s Madrigal Singers, one of four choral ensembles within Wichita State’s School of Music. In the past, the madrigal dinner was an important tradition for the Madrigal Singers, and the Dec. 3 event is part of the group's effort to re-establish it.

“I quickly learned that alumni and faculty had fond memories of the madrigal dinner tradition,” said Ryan Beeken, interim association director WSU School of music, director of choral activities and associate professor of music. “Having performed and produced them for many years, I was excited by this sense of nostalgia and was eager to look into how we might bring the event back to campus. As a newer faculty member, bringing the madrigal dinner back to campus was an attractive way to bring back old traditions while at the same time, looking toward the future.”

Dr. Teri Hall, vice president for Wichita State’s Student Affairs, was particularly excited at the idea of the Madrigal Feaste and its history at WSU.

“I thought a madrigal dinner would be a good community building event that would really showcase the talents of our amazing students,” Hall said. “When I found out that there was a long history of madrigals dinners at WSU, I was even more enthusiastic about helping to bring the tradition back.”

The events were originally created at WSU by conductor Harrison “Bud” Boughton in 1963. Boughton also started the popular Candlelight Concerts that are still produced at WSU today.

“Madrigal dinners, or Renaissance feasts, are a common holiday tradition for choirs across the world,” Beeken said. “They offer a unique way to usher in the holiday season with feasting, revelry and music.”

Despite the formal nature usually ascribed to traditional choir performances and on-campus dinners, Beeken says the madrigal dinner will be more like a combination Monty Python, blended with traditional holiday and Renaissance music.

“The dinners tend to be humorous and blend scripted acting with improvisation – especially as the performers strive to interact with the audience,” Beeken said. They are light-hearted, yet heart-felt.”

In addition to offering entertainment, the event will also raise money to support the choral program and its students. According to Beeken, there are more than 70 tickets left for event. Tickets are $55 for all university guests and $20 for all WSU students. For more information or to order your tickets, please visit the WSU Madrigal Feaste website.

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