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Madrigal Dinner Spotlight

drexel students
Left to right: Corey Federovich – Senior: Biological Sciences, 5th year, Michael Zimmerman – Senior: Finance, 5th year, Ted Swanson – Senior: Graphic Design, 4th year, Laura Allan – Senior: Materials Sci & Engineering, 5th year.

February 8, 2016

The Drexel University Chamber Singer’s presented their first Madrigal Dinner in 1991. Since then, the troupe has presented this festive evening of traditional madrigals, chansons, lute songs, and lieds, accompanied by a rotating chorus of jesters, jugglers, trumpeters, and sword fighters. Every year boasts a different storyline, interjected with acoustically stunning singing and a Renaissance-themed dinner, served family-style at wide banquet tables, with the traditional Boar’s Head Carol and raising of the Wassail glass.

The Madrigal Dinner event was conceived and conducted by Steven Powell, D.Mus. for the last 25 years. While on sabbatical, his shoes are being capably filled by acting director of choral activities, Daniel Spratlan, D.M.A. Drexel’s experiential learning culture brings a variety of artists to campus, exploring how their distinct teaching methods can lead to new discoveries and challenges for the students. The seniors mention the excellent foundation laid for them by Professor Powell and have been surprised to hear their sound so impacted by Professor Spratlan’s style.

“It’s interesting,” Laura Allen, a senior who has performed with the group for five years, says of Professor Spratlan. “What conductors train a choir to sound like is similar to their own vocal style. Dr. Powell has a powerful, rich vibrato kind of sound, and Dr. Spratlan’s is crisp, very clean and modern; so we’ve gotten to experiment with different artistic goals.”

All four of the students agree that the Madrigal Dinner has been a fun, social part of their time at Drexel. From sword-fighting to improvised moments with the audience, the students feel camaraderie with their fellow singers that they hope to continue through other singing opportunities beyond Drexel. When asked if they will return to participate as members of the audience in the future, getting a chance to eat and celebrate from the banquet table side of things, they all nod, agreeing that if they are in the area, they would not miss it. “If I lived in Australia, I would come back!” Ted Swanson jokes.

The Madrigal Dinner remains one of the most unique events on the Drexel performing arts calendar, bringing together music, theatre, and dance for a truly memorable night. This year, the audience will be transported to 1586, the time of Sir Francis Drake and Queen Elizabeth, with courtly shenanigans, stories, and singing.

Tickets can be purchased here.