by Carol Hutto
For those who attended the Christmas Madrigal Feastes at Peace Lutheran Church, near Edgemont, AR, the evenings began as they opened the church doors, to find themselves waiting to be ‘announced into the royal hall’ by the Herald for the evening, Pastor William Flemr of Peace. December 20 and 21 were the dates for these events, but preparation obviously began months before, music selection and preparation, menu created and food purchased, tickets and seating arranged, candles, holders, decorations. So much went into making these two nights such a success! That said, the fruits of everyone’s “labor” paid off well, as the seat-holders were indeed treated ‘royally.’ They enjoyed a delicious meal prepared in the Peace kitchen under the guidance and expertise of Sigrid Long – who has made quite a name for herself already in the area as a lady who certainly knows how to prepare delicious foods. (Anyone who attended theater events at the Bay View Club, which benefited the Fairfield Bay Library, can attest to that fact!) In addition to Ms. Long’s expertise, those in attendance were also treated to beautiful a cappella Christmas and seasonal music, sung under the direction of Analea Cook, Peace Choral and Music Director, and director/coordinator of the event. Ms. Cook began her work with the Madrigal Singers in earnest in October. The group of 18 singers memorized their 14 songs, processed by candelight and generally ‘acted’ the part of troubadours from hundreds of years ago. The church fellowship hall was transformed into a kingly space (in honor of “King Richard and Queen Millicent” – aka, Dick and Mollie Mills) by placement of hundreds of candles, numerous banners in various colors hung around the room (created by Kristi Edwards and faithful helpers among the ladies of Peace) and a general air of festivity, enhanced by beautiful costumes, Renaissance dancers, recorder and harpsichord music.
Eighty delighted guests enjoyed the festivities each evening – with a waiting list for others who hoped to get to attend! Family and friends of the participants filled the hall and no one left disappointed in what was hailed a delightful success by attendees. What is more, those who participated were lifted into the Christmas Spirit right along with the guests as they shared the music of the Season of the Christ Child. Even the servers and hostesses for the evening were swept into the joyful experience, smiling the whole while as they shared the wassail, the delicious meal, the music and happiness. Helping Ms. Long in the kitchen were Dwight Hutto and Larry Dietrich. Also pitching in as well as serving were Jim Calaway, Dee Cheak, Kathy Kidder, Joyce Klindt, Shirley Moller, Grant Olson, Susan and Roger Schuepbach, Bonnie Trahan-True and Kathy Williamson. Hostesses were Suzann Hipp, Judy Wieduwilt and Beth Workman. The Royal Housekeeper was Karolyn Anderson.
Musicians and Dancers for the evening included Joe McShane, Susan Todt, Ruth Weinstein, Tessa Peterson, Becky Peterson and Grant Peterson, as well as Susan Calaway, who not only played the harpsichord but also sang with the Madrigal Singers. Others of the Singers included Barbara Berkley, Larry Berkley (Royal Trumpeter for the evening), Kristi Edwards, William Flemr (Hearld), Susan Hipp, David Hoffman, Vernie Holdman, Carol Gray-Hutto, Rich Klindt, Joyce McMillan, Sandy Olson, Jackie Rohrer (Lady of Misrule for the evening), Thea Thompson, Carl Trahan-True, Judy Wheeler and Randy Williamson.
Tribute must be paid to Sallie Parish of Clinton, as the script for the evening was adapted from one used for ten years (1995-2004) at Clinton High School where Ms. Parish was drama instructor, Senior English teacher and coordinator for the very popular and well-received Madrigal Feastes. Then, as at this more recent Madrigal Event, a wonderful time was had by all. Memories were indeed made that will last a lifetime!