Madrigal music, from the 15th to 17th Halloween Costumes Outlet century in Europe, is typically sung a cappella and "polyphonic," meaning "the voices move independently of one another to create a tapestry of sound," said Hinsdale Central choir director Jennifer Burkemper.
Many people associate a Madrigal show with a Medieval feast in a castle, said Katheryn Vukson, music teacher and director of the Hinsdale South group, so serving just dessert after performances Friday and Saturday was a compromise. But the performance includes lavish costumes, court jesters, town criers and skits.
"It's serfewrfdfds more like a theatrical production," Vukson said.
South's Madrigals are 14 of the school's most highly skilled singers, who have to audition for the group. The students have to be able to read music and be very independent musicians, because not everyone is singing the same line at the same time, Vukson said.
They have to be able to hold their own part, while someone next to them is singing different notes, she said.
In Madrigals, blending with the singers around him is more important than belting out a song, said Evan Donaldson, a senior who has been in the group for three years.
"You have to learn a harmony," said Anna Lowery, a Hinsdale Central senior, and speak your lines with an English accent.
The Central students who perform the Madrigal shows in December perform as the chamber choir the rest of the school year. Instead of bodices and ruffled blouses with long flowing sleeves, the girls wear black dresses with pearls and the boys wear tuxedos with cummerbunds.
Like at South, it's the most select choral group.
Ever since seventh grade, Ella Heider of Clarendon Hills said she looked forward to being in Central's chamber choir.
"It's the choir that other choir singers strive to be in," Lowery said.
She and Heider auditioned for the chamber choir in previous years, but were not accepted until this, their senior year.
Lowery described the group as "a bunch of people who all want the same thing, to make beautiful music."
Her favorite song in their concerts is "We Three Kings," a carol she first learned in preschool, she said.
The version she sings with the Madrigals has "such a different and beautiful arrangement," Lowery said. "It makes me happy and reminds me of my childhood."
Heider's favorite is "Coventry Carol," about King Herod's order to slay infant boys in Bethlehem.
"It's a beautiful lullaby to the dead children. It's really touching and it gives me goose bumps," she said.
Other songs, such as "Counterpoint of the Animals," are more playful and sung with meows, bird chirps and stuffed animals.
"The tenors are the dogs, the altos are the cats and the sopranos are the doves," Burkemper explained.
In addition to performances at school, both Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South's Madrigals will perform at churches, country clubs and for organizations, such as the Woman's Club of Hinsdale.
Hinsdale Central's chamber choir also was accepted to perform for choir directors from throughout the state at the 2017 Illinois Music Educators Conference in Peoria in January.
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