Our town is fortunate enough to have a music teacher who, for the last fourteen years, has produced wonderful Madrigal choirs from contemporary teen-agers from our local public high school. The Madrigal Singers feature Christmas songs from the 14th and 15 centuries. In an age when the secular press and others, insist that the political correct greeting in December is “Happy Holiday”, these youngsters actually sing songs in Latin, German and English that include such words as Jesus, Mary, Bethlehem and Son of God. Of course, the annual Christmas Madrigal Singers concert may not be held in the local high school where the youngsters attend due to the nature of the music, so the group preforms in the auditorum of the local Episcopal church to a packed crowd for at least three performances per Christmas season.
The members of the singers are from all ethnic backgrounds and from all religious beliefs. They take pride in belonging to this wonderful group who, over the years, has sung in such places as Longwood Gardens, PA, Grounds for Sculpture, NJ, and the White House, DC. They also have toured and preformed in England, Scottland, Germany, Austria and Italy.
While nearly all of the songs are of European origin, this year a new piece was added in the style of the Madrigal by a former choir member. The piece is called “Shalom rav”, quite possibly, the first Jewish Madrigal piece. For the last six years, a local parent has written a comical skit appropriate for these devoted, disciplined youngsters to perform as part of their show. Dressed in period costumes, the singers/actors frolic about the stage demonstrating that even in the Twenty-first Century, young people are capable of respectfully combining religious tradition with witty secular humor, delighting and enlightening audiences of all ages and educational backgrounds.
It is my hope that these committed young people will bring the dedication, discipline and tolerance learned from singing religious songs from long ago to the world of today that needs all of the virtues that they have learned and have practiced.