Jacksonville State University’s Office of Choral Activities will be performing its annual Renaissance Madrigal Dinner this Friday and Saturday evening in the Leone Cole Auditorium.
Dr. Patricia Corbin, who is director of Choral Activities at JSU, will be leading the JSU Chamber Singers and A Cappella Choir for two evenings of Renaissance-themed music and drama, accompanied by a multi-course dinner.
The annual event, which Dr. Corbin has organized for the past 14 years, sees members of JSU’s A cappella choir dress up in Renaissance-style costumes and perform a farcical dinner theatre for the enjoyment of those in attendance.
“Guests buy tickets, and during the meal they receive, a play is enacted by the Chamber Singers. Choral music is played throughout the evening, and some of it is Christmas-themed, but this year, not so much—it’s mainly Renaissance-themed,” said Corbin in an interview.
“The Chamber Singers is a smaller group within the A cappella choir, and they are the featured performers,” said Corbin. “They have the speaking parts in the play, and the A cappella choir acts as the wait staff for guests, but we will all be in costume and singing.
“It’s not very historically accurate—we take a lot of liberties with it, to be fun,” she continued. “Certainly, a lot of the people who come year after year feel that it jumpstarts their holiday season.”
Each year, Dr. Corbin gets together with four or five of her choral students and writes the story for the play. This year she was assisted by Kaitlyn Graves, Ellen Abney, Kaylon Gilley, Meg Griffin and Christina Booker.
“This year’s story is called ‘Triads and Tribulations: A Prince’s Sad Tale,’ and it takes place within the Kingdom of Jubilation, where everyone is kind of Stepford Wives-happy—except the Prince,” said Dr. Corbin. “So everyone in the kingdom tries to help cheer him up. It’s a lot of fun.”
Dr. Corbin also uses the annual dinner theatre as a chance to give students in her advanced choral conducting class experience directing a choir of their peers—while she will be conducting some of the music, most of it will be done by students.
Unfortunately, whereas the annual event was once a major source of fundraising for the Choral Activities office, it’s gotten to be less so in recent years.
“It’s gotten expensive because of the food—it used to be a pretty lucrative fundraiser for the Choral Activities office, but that’s not so true anymore... That’s why we’re really pushing the $5 non-eating tickets,” said Dr. Corbin.
Non-eating tickets will be available for purchase through the Office of Choral Activities until Friday at noon, but dinner reservation tickets—which came in two price levels, $32 and $55 and allowed guests to partake of the meal—are no longer
It’s important to get your non-eating tickets soon, because no tickets will be available for sale at the door.
While the evening’s entertainment will be light-hearted and fun—suitable for both children and adults—there is a social service aspect to it, too:
“All three of the choirs that I am in charge of participate in food drives—this event is the second of three. We’re asking guests to bring canned goods when they come, and it’s sponsored by the new student chapter of the American Choral
Directors Association at JSU,” said Dr. Corbin.
All of the goods collected at the dinner will benefit the Jacksonville Christian Outreach Center.