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Aiken Choral Society’s Madrigal Feast to welcome the holiday season in Renaissance style

November 10, 2018

The Aiken Choral Society will party like it’s the 1500s Nov. 30, and you’re invited – thou canst even weareth thine finest Renaissance attire.

The society’s sixth-annual Madrigal Feast – featuring early holiday music composed before 1600, skits, wandering minstrels and, of course, food – will be at The Reserve Club in Woodside Plantation. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the feast will begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $70. Guests also can reserve tables.

Tickets are available online at aikenchoralsociety.org or at the Aiken County Visitors Center at 133 Laurens St. N.W.

The Madrigal Feast is “something different than the typical Christmas concert” to start off the holiday season, said Dr. Maureen Simpson, the director of the Aiken Choral Society.

“It’s all very fun,” Simpson said. “We do beautiful early music that doesn’t get performed very often, such as the ‘Coventry Carol.’ We’re all dressed up, and we encourage our guests to come in a fancy hat, a vest or their own costume.”

Members of the choral society will not only sing but will parade through the tables, talking and mingling with guests.

“We’re your entertainment for the night. The guests are our focus,” Simpson said. “It’s a very relaxed dinner show. We don’t ask you to be quiet while we perform. We can be background music, or you can sit and listen to us.”

For the first time this year, the singers will parade a boar’s head with an apple in its mouth on a platter – not a real one, of course – through the hall while singing “The Boar’s Head Carol,” written in the 15th century for Yuletide feasts.

“It’s all about the fanfare for the host,” Simpson said.

Members of the Youth Wing at the Aiken Community Theatre will perform a skit, and Carl Purdy, with his family, will wander among the tables playing his antique hurdy-gurdy.

“It’s an instrument you carry around like an organ grinder would,” Simpson said.

Two knights in shining armor – in the form of cardboard cutouts – will stand guard at the door, and Aiken County Council member Andrew Siders will greet guests as the court jester for the evening.

Guests can make donations to FutureVoices , which supports local choral education through a choral conference for middle and high school students and a scholarship for a high school senior planning to major in music.

“It’s all about keeping the arts alive – literally live performances – for people to support,” Simpson said.

Guests also can buy friendly insults delivered by choral society singers in Renaissance language.

“They can throw a dollar in the basket, and we’ll insult the person of their choice with something like, ’You sanctimonious, sycophant, pot-bellied pig snout,” Simpson said. “It’s all about the fun and merriment of the season and welcoming in whatever season you welcome.”

The Madrigal Feast is sponsored by The Reserve Club at Woodside Plantation. The Aiken Choral Society is funded in part by the S.C. Arts Commission with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Want to go?

WHAT: Aiken Choral Society’s Madrigal Feast

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Nov. 30

WHERE: The Reserve Club, 3000 The Reserve Club Drive

COST: $70

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit aikenchoralsociety.org.

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