Covenant Hosts Madrigal Dinner
On December 9-10, 2011, Covenant’s music department will present its annual Madrigal Dinners, with dinner beginning each evening at 6:30 p.m.
Begun in 1969 by Dr. John Hamm, the Madrigal Dinners have become a community tradition, attracting hundreds of attendees from the local community as well as parents of students and alumni from around the country.
The madrigal dinner was a 16th century celebration and feast given just before Christmas by the wealthy for their court and friends. Castle dining halls were transformed with the reds and greens of Christmas. Feasts were prepared and entertainment planned throughout the meal. Guests dined, enjoyed music, danced and "made merry" until the hosts declared it an evening. This historical court feast was hosted by a lord and lady who presented a lavish evening for friends to begin the Christmas season celebration.
Some colleges follow the historical aspects more closely, such as dining without utensils - a tradition in the original madrigal dinner. Covenant provides eating utensils but remains close to the spirit of the feast, presenting the Christmas story in music and readings. The historical Great Hall is transformed into a castle-like atmosphere with wreaths, flowers, and hundreds of feet of garland decorated with fruit, herbs and ribbons. Nearly 1,000 candles are burned throughout the event. The lavish costumes add an exquisite touch to the beauty of the evening.
The lord and lady preside over the feast and announce each course, giving instructions to all to begin and enjoy. Courses include soup, salad, meat, roasted vegetables, pudding, fruits, cheeses, wassail and all the trimmings of a 16th century feast. For nearly three hours, guests eat a meal prepared by guest chefs, and served by servants attired in authentic peasant costumes. These peasants dance and lavish each guest with attention throughout the evening.
The Madrigal Singers are a highly skilled group of singers, dressed in authentic Renaissance costumes, who sing English carols, madrigals, and traditional Christmas music. The costumed Renaissance Consort plays throughout the evening using harp, flute, oboe, viola da gamba, mandolin, violins, percussion, and a harpsichord. The Madrigal Singers and Renaissance Consort are conducted this year by guest director Mr. David Long. The event is the product of over a hundred musicians, faculty, and support staff who work to make each evening a success. Throughout the evening, jugglers, solo singers, instrumentalists and other entertainment provide distractions in the tradition of Renaissance court life.
The beauty of the Madrigal Dinner is its presentation of the Christmas story and the birth of Christ in a setting that takes us back to times past. It is an evening of great food, time with friends, the beauty of winter colors and smells, costumed cast, and exquisite music - a true celebration of Christmas.
The dinner is $60 per person, and reservations can be made November 1-30 by calling 706.419.1453 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. While most tables accommodate eight guests, there are a few tables that seat four. A waiting list is available for those who call after all available seats are reserved.