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Singers share period pieces

December 10, 2012
Jodelle Greiner , Fairmont Sentinel

BLUE EARTH - The Blue Earth Area High School Madrigals will have a new look for their performances this month, said Paul Johnson, choir director.

The distinctive red capes and tams worn by the girls and green capes and tams for the boys have marked the group for decades.

Today, Mara Olson is planning to present the Madrigals with new costumes she made herself.

"The capes and tams we're wearing today were from the 1970s," Johnson said. "The greens have faded, buttons are falling off, some have stains on them."

He wants the group to look nice because they will be seen quite a bit.

Tonight, the 18-member ensemble will perform at 7:30 p.m. with the high school choir and orchestra in the BEAHS Performing Arts Center. Then they will appear from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday at First Financial Bank in Winnebago as part of an open house.

They will perform again in the high school performing arts center at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 and then at the Kiwanis luncheon at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at Hamilton Hall.

The group is a popular draw in the area.

"It's been a tradition in Blue Earth for a long time," Johnson said. "The group is very much featured in the community. We get requests from all over; they really like to see us. Every time I get a call, we try to work with them."

Getting to sing a lot is great for Emily Hynes, a junior, and Max Nagel, a senior.

"Once the Madrigals start, you know you have to bring out the Christmas tree," Hynes said. "When I was younger, I'd watch the Madrigals. They were so good and I wanted to be one so bad. Now that I am one, it makes me very happy to say I'm part of the Madrigals."

Madrigals are more prominent at Christmas because the groups tend to sing more traditional songs that match the season, Johnson said.

"I like the genre of music we do," Nagel said. "The old traditional music is fun for me to sing. It's really different from what I'm used to singing in middle school and the lower grades."

Not only does the Madrigals' appearance set them apart, so does their sound.

"It has to do with the time period of songs that makes it Madrigals," Johnson explained.

Madrigals sing a style of song that has more than one part, which was popular during the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and songs are usually sung a cappella -without accompaniment, he said.

"People who sang in a Madrigal would be in period dress," Johnson said. "We do capes and tams because it represents that era."

Madrigals don't go away when the holidays are over.

"The reason we're called Madrigals is we sing Madrigals' songs through the year," Johnson said. "I treat this group as my top chamber ensemble. In springtime, we do more advanced music for a smaller group."

He can switch things up because he has a versatile bunch of singers.

"Quick learners, all very good musicians," Johnson noted. "We can do advanced stuff and learn it with one rehearsal in a week."

"With Madrigals, I think it's easier because you're with more outgoing and better singers," Nagel said.

"I like the challenge," Hynes said, adding that mastering some pieces can be difficult, "but once you get it, it's 'Score!'"



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