An Old English holiday

TUPELO – For centuries, music has been integral to Christmas celebrations.
The Tupelo High School Madrigals will bring age-old musical traditions to the here and now for the 2010 Singe Feaste.
From Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, the performers will transform All Saints’ Episcopal Church Parish Hall into the great hall of an English castle.
“We are striving to show how madrigal feasts were performed during the time of Henry VIII,” said Debra Atkinson, who’s co-directing with Calvin Ellis. “We are trying to show the tradition.”
The meal provided by Park Heights will include a mixed greens salad, roasted chicken, green beans and bread pudding. Each course will be announced with a song from the Madrigals.
After dessert, the singers will perform a concert of true classics, including “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Deck the Hall,” “Sing We Now of Christmas,” “Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming” and “Silent Night.”
“I enjoy all of the music I teach, but this is more of a treat for me,” Ellis said. “This is the music I enjoy most.”
Holly Harrington, 16, a junior member of the group, said the songs have been challenging to learn.
“In the madrigal pieces, each part sings something different,” she said. “It’s hard to learn them. When we finally do learn them, it’s an accomplishment.”
The difficulty and novelty combine to make it fun for the performers, said James Spencer, a 17-year-old junior.
“We’re changing things this year, too” he said. “We’re adding a skit, so it will be a new experience for people who’ve been before.”
Members of THS Thespian Troupe 1949 will perform a skit featuring a Jester, the Lord of Misrule and other entertaining characters.
“It’s all funny,” Atkinson said.
After those funny parts are over, there will be more fun to come. The Madrigals will be dressed in their Old English finery, and they’ll be ready to entertain with seasonal music that has stood the test of time.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” Harrington said. “You’ll definitely have fun when you’re there.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.

M. SCOTT MORRIS / NEMS Daily Journal