Holiday renaissance | SteamboatToday.com

Holiday renaissance

Mountain Madrigal Singers perform English traditions for holiday shows

Margaret Hair

The Madrigal Singers rehearse for their upcoming show in the music room at the United Methodist Church in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday.
Brian Ray

Steamboat Springs — A madrigal choral concert is an elaborate show: dresses with puffy sleeves and billowing skirts for the women, tights under short pants for the men, carefully balanced vocal arrangements for the whole group. — A madrigal choral concert is an elaborate show: dresses with puffy sleeves and billowing skirts for the women, tights under short pants for the men, carefully balanced vocal arrangements for the whole group.

— A madrigal choral concert is an elaborate show: dresses with puffy sleeves and billowing skirts for the women, tights under short pants for the men, carefully balanced vocal arrangements for the whole group.

After coming back from a hiatus last year for their first performance since 2003, the Mountain Madrigal Singers start a two-concert holiday season on Sunday with a traditional dinner at the Ore House at Pine Grove Restaurant. The group will perform the same set of songs in a holiday recital at the Depot Art Center on Dec. 16.

Nancy Kramer, who sings alto in the 14-person ensemble, said she has sung all her life and joined the madrigal group started by director Marie Carmichael in the early 1980s.

When the group restarted in 1984, Kramer said she got a phone call, went to one rehearsal and was back in. In its heyday, the group performed three or four holiday madrigal dinners a season.

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The group disbanded when its members got too busy to keep up with rehearsals and performances. For its 2007 concerts, the singers started rehearsing with new members about the middle of October.

“We come from all walks of life – we’ve got lawyers, doctors, computer people, counselors,” Kramer said, explaining the group’s time constraints.

Sunday’s dinner won’t follow all the traditions of a true madrigal holiday feast, Kramer said, but the group will keep singing carols for a boar’s head and figgy pudding. For a reception at a holiday recital the next week, Kramer has planned a spread of trifles, truffles and figgy pudding, too.

“It’s going to be a fun dessert reception,” she said after expressing some frustration at the difficulty of finding a good figgy pudding recipe.

Cheryl Hardy-Moore, an alto in the ensemble who also directs when Carmichael is out of town, defined a madrigal as a popular secular song from the 16th century. “Deck the Halls” is a well-known example, but most madrigals can’t be directly pinned to the holidays. She said the holiday concerts are “fun, uplifting events,” and Mountain Madrigal members new and old will be prepared to impress.

“I’ve been in since 1984, and I think the group is musically as good as it’s ever been,” Hardy-Moore said.