Madrigals revive the Renaissance


Elizabeth Hsieh, Editor-In-Chief

Heartbreak, self-pity, and relationships. For three nights, the Madrigal performers reimagine these modern themes in the spirit of renaissance as they transform the stage into a medieval holiday castle.
Though anyone can participate, the cast is primarily the band and choir departments.
“We have our 16 Madrigal Singers, 13 Madrigal Ladies, and a slew of madrigal actors and madrigal instrumentalists,” Nathan Rancatore, choir director, said. “We have a whole recorder ensemble and trios of flutes and brass quintets that are playing music in that style and creating that soundscape people would typically hear during medieval times.”
The school’s first performance took place 40 years ago, but its roots trace back to the madrigal groups from the 15th century.
“These groups, known as the Madrigal singers, would go around and perform music that was popular at the time,” Rancatore said. “We see it as old music; however, the things that they sang about, the same things that our madrigals singers and ladies sing about, is as relevant today as it was 600 hundred years ago.”
The performance includes music from a wide time spectrum, ranging from medieval songs to modern Christmas carols.
“Thinking that our ancestors sang these songs, it’s like you can connect with people you never knew and come together through music,” Gabby Temko, senior, said.
To capture the spirit of the renaissance, Madrigal singers and ladies not only work on vocal skills but participants are also dressed in medieval clothing and take on roles such as King and Queen.
“We all have to interact with each other,” Suly Solano, senior said. “For this one song, ‘I Saw Lovely Phyllis,’ in the beginning it’s all lovely and cheerful and then there’s a switch and he’s angrily singing to her. We have to help portray that, so we look around across each other to give off that energy.”
Practice begins in the summer and continues until the week before the performance.
“Even though we’re here every day for hours on end, just spending the time with the people makes it all worth it,” Jenna Holman, junior, said.
Through one performance, the participants of madrigals hope to not only convey the spirit of the renaissance but the spirit of the music department itself.
“Students pass us every day, but they don’t necessarily know what happens down here,” Rancatore said. “It’s amazing for these students to see the talent we have here.”