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Hinsdale South madrigal dinner is rooted in tradition

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While other freshman girls dreamed of becoming madrigal queen, or of which dress she would wear one day as a member of the royal court, Tatyana Murphy’s goal was to one day direct one of the many songs at Hinsdale South’s annual madrigal dinner.

As a senior member of the madrigal choir, Murphy will lead a chorus of more than 60 at this year’s madrigal dinner, set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7. She is one of three student directors, who join nearly 75 other student actors, singers and musicians, in the school’s annual nod to the days of King Arthur, court jesters and wassail.

For two evenings each year the cafeteria is transformed into the royal dining hall, where the king and queen have gathered their guests for a celebration of the holidays.

But something is missing from this year’s festivities.

“This year, we have no king,” said director Katheryn Vukson.

The absence of a king inspired this year’s queen, senior Patrice Batryn, to choose the name Queen One-is-not-the-Loneliest-Number as her moniker.

“I can be powerful by myself,” Batryn said.

Like many of the leading characters, Batryn is part of South’s drama program.

“It takes a lot of acting,” said junior Emma Webster, one of two jesters in this year’s show.

“It’s a huge opportunity,” said Webster, who along with Alex Gomez, is responsible for lending a healthy dose of humor to the evening.

As jester, Webster’s attire is decidedly less glamorous than the gowns worn by the rest of the female singers. Members of the madrigal choir traditionally get first pick of the school’s collection of Renaissance-era costumes. As is also tradition, the queen helps to design a brand new dress for the occasion.

Tradition oozes from every moment of the madrigal dinner, from the Boar’s Head Carol to the final sing-along to Silent Night. In between, diners are treated to music not only by the madrigal singers, but by the larger Village Choir, a recorder ensemble and a brass choir.

“It takes a huge amount of music,” Vukson said. “That’s why we start practicing back in August.”

The madrigal singers take their portion of the show on the road this time of year, performing at company gatherings, community events and meetings, such as the November gathering of the Willowbrook-Burr Ridge Chamber of Commerce.

The music, which requires many solos, teaches independence, Vukson said, and the students gain an appreciation for music written hundreds of years ago.

Students also tap into their creativity by helping to write the script and their acting abilities by taking on the persona of a lord or lady from so long ago.

Another tradition is to buy madrigal tickets early, Vukson said. The evening, which includes a meal served by members of the village choir, is always a sellout.

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