Noblemen and wenches alike are invited to attend the Elizabethan Madrigal Feaste, two nights of food, drink, song and entertainment in the style of Renaissance England.
The Feaste will be held at 6:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow in the Mandela Room.
The Feaste, sponsored by the Binghamton University music department, will consist of both theatrical and musical performances from groups including Harpur Chorale, the Women’s Chorus and the Renaissance Consort. A wide range of foods will be served, including thick bean soup, roast beef, chicken with an orange glaze, chocolate cake, wine and a wassail toast.
Bruce Borton, an associate professor in the music department, is serving as the event’s director.
“It is an event that is unlike any other performance we do,” Borton said. “It is as much a theatrical as a musical event, being presented in costume and with a script. In addition to the music, there are skits, wassail toasts, presentation of the ceremonial boar’s head and a multi-course meal based on Elizabethan-era recipes.”
The Madrigal Feaste is an annual tradition that David Buttolph, a former choral conductor at BU, began in the mid-1980s.
Borton said that Peter Browne, director of the Harpur Chorale, and Molly Adams-Toomey and Jushin Choi, conductors of the Women’s Chorus, planned the musical performances for the night. Borton wrote the scripts for the performances and coordinated the logistics.
Adams-Toomey spoke about the peculiar challenges of planning musical performances for this type of event.
“Members of the Women’s Chorus often have to serve food or carry displays and presentations around the room as they sing, something we conductors have to bear in mind as we teach them the music,” Adams-Toomey said. “Both the Women’s Chorus and the Harpur Chorale are costumed for the Feast … we have to make sure everyone has a costume that fits, and figure in dress rehearsals. It feels in many ways more like preparing for an opera or a play than for a concert.”
Ari Hausman, a member of the Harpur Chorale, will be the “Lord of the Manor” — otherwise known as the evening’s host. This is the second year he is performing at the Feaste with the Harpur Chorale.
“Chorale plays the role of the royal court, including the King, Queen and Jester,” Hausman said. “Women’s Chorus is the servers [formerly called the ‘wenches'] who help serve the food. We sing two sets of Madrigals from the renaissance, as well as songs that open and close the night. We are also involved playing roles in an undoubtedly hilarious skit written by Dr. Borton.”
Both Hausman and Adams-Toomey said the Madrigal Feaste is a unique and special event.
“It’s a really fun event,” Hausman said. “You get to dress up in Renaissance-type clothes and sing. What else could you ask for?”