For two nights, Center Grove High School will turn Renaissance.
The Hall of Excellence will be bedecked in banners, reminiscent of the time period. Diners will eat on fine china and drink from chalices.
Members of the CG Singers and Counterpoints, the school’s concert choirs, will serenade diners with Christmas classics “Deck the Halls,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and selected songs from the Renaissance.
For more than 15 years, the Madrigal Dinner at Center Grove High School has been a unique holiday celebration for residents and another way to teach for educators at Center Grove. The dinner is at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
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The Madrigal Dinner isn’t a fundraiser, as the cost of the tickets purchased go to pay for the costs associated with the dinner, choral director Jennifer Dice said. Instead, the dinner is a way to help serve and entertain the community.
“The community comes, and we get to celebrate with each other,” senior Katie Swaney said.
The dinner is a re-creation of a medieval feast. Sixty students will sing, serve and act out a Christmas-themed mystery for the diners. Madrigal dinners can be closely compared to dinner theater, Dice said.
“There are people who look forward to it every year,” she said.
Madrigal dinners are popular around the holidays, Dice said.
People are in the mood to attend themed events, and most madrigal dinner scripts and shows are holiday based, blending Renaissance music with Christmas carols, she said.
“It’s holiday time. People want to come to concerts and things of that nature,” Dice said. “It is just a unique experience, different than anything else.”
Madrigal dinners are becoming a rarity.
For about a decade, the now defunct Edinburgh Community Arts Council hosted a madrigal dinner, said Ruth Freese, a former member of the council.
The council searched for organizations that could take their their props and costumes. Center Grove was the closest organization they found who annually hosted a madrigal dinner, Freese said.
Madrigal dinners are unique and traditional, which makes them popular for people looking for a different aspect to their holiday celebrations, she said.
“Everyone loves to celebrate Christmas in a traditional format; that is one way to do it,” Freese said.
Hosting a madrigal dinner is a lot of work, since organizations have to find a caterer, learn a script and songs and get costumes and props for the performers, Freese said. The work involved is likely why madrigal dinners are rare, she said.
Center Grove’s madrigal dinner is a community and educational experience, Dice said.
The music literature the students study differs from what they perform in any other choir class. The madrigal dinner is likely the only time the students will see or perform some of the Renaissance music, she said.
That aspect of the dinner is why the annual event is attractive as an educational opportunity for the students, she said.
“It pushes the (students’) musical ability,” she said.
Only about 120 diners will be allowed at each show to conserve the intimate feel a madrigal dinner should have, Dice said.
“We want them to interact and feel like they are a part of the dinner,” she said.
What: Madrigal dinner
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Hall of Excellence at Center Grove High School, 2717 S. Morgantown Road.
Tickets: Get your tickets at www.centergrovechoirs.org/madrigal. Tickets are $10.