Monday, February 28, 2011

MUSIC, IV---MADRIGAL FEAST

All photos from the Internet

Down at Eye-You, as Indiana University is called, there used to be the most wonderful series of evenings during the Christmas season called Madrigal Feasts, put on by the School of Music. I’d heard of them, and the first time we went, I’d won a “day-trip” from a tour company in a drawing at a local mall. It was just for a day-tour of somewhere close enough, and so we chose to go to Bloomington for the evening for the program.

And it was simply wonderful---on a crisp, clear-cold evening just before Christmas, we met the tour bus over in the parking lot of the mall, and we rode the highway through the sunset, with the great wide windows of the bus giving us lovely views of the countryside as the twilight deepened, whilst the guides led us in carols, and others passed around the peppermint sticks and lemon drops.


The whole banquet hall had been transformed into the revel-hall of a medieval castle, with an enormous fireplace, and a big throne-balcony up high, with King and Queen and courtiers.


The feast was wonderfully done by the cafeteria staff, and all the food was just delicious. Instead of the boar, for show there was an actual huge pink piggy-head, with the little tag in the ear, bought from a processing plant, and arrayed on an enormous salver, which was heralded by a flourish of trumpets and brought in on the shoulders of four servants. We were served a lovely Prime Rib, and salads and other accompaniments. Another flourish of trumpets after the table was cleared, and the servers brought in the bushel-sized flaming pudding, lofty and holly-decked, while smaller versions were placed on each table.
And all the while, the striking voices were singing the old songs and rounds and lays and melodies. Everyone was in court costume, and the music was magnificent, accompanied by members of the orchestra. And I would imagine that that was the first time most of the guests had ever heard the actual words to GREENSLEEVES, since we know it now mostly as What Child is This? I was also amazed to find some of the airs and words a bit familiar---they were nearly the same tunes of some of the old Hill Music, the melodies of my ancestors, but with a more elegant delivery than the old plaintive twang.
Down on the immense banquet floor with our tables were jugglers, jesters, magicians, fortune-tellers, minstrels and all sorts of other entertainers of the time frame.

We were still singing as we came out into the clear, frosty air, and on the bus all the way home.

But alas, it’s one of the sad facts of life that schools are having to “make cuts,” and one of the first activities to fall was the Madrigal Feast. We were dismayed to hear that the funding was no longer available, and amidst the local mumbles and rumors of new fieldhouses and coaches' salaries, we have it on good authority that as a parting gesture on the night of the very last Feast, the serving staff put earbobs and lipstick on the pig.



3 comments:

Romantic Dinner said...

Thanks for nice sharing .....

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

I hope everything is restored one day. I remember when my little girl waited every year to be old enough to go to camp like her brothers and sisters did..and when it came her time...suddenly that very year they said there was no more money and no more camp. It was over. I will never forget her little face. No tears..just resignation.
She grew up and became a school teacher...and a good one. She knows how to roll with the punches...she was born with that ability.
I sometimes wonder how it will all go for our schools..

Beverly said...

Greensleeves. I just heard it as the background music on something my husband was watching on television this weekend. I am not a lover of television, but I often sit and read while he watches. I heard the tune, and I looked up to see what was showing, but I can't remember what it was. Such is my brain.