UCA makes plans for 2009 Madrigal Feast

“My intention was to bring a bit of beauty to the Central Arkansas community during the holiday season,” Erwin said. “At the University of Illinois, I was introduced to the concept. My thought was that I would provide everyone in attendance with an opportunity to escape the hectic pace of modern day and travel back to a simpler and slower time, when the beauty of the music and the poetry spoke more directly to the soul.”

At a Madrigal feast, the venue is most often decorated to create a medieval castle atmosphere. The chamber singers will don period costumes and serenade the audience. A jester will also entertain the crowd.

The audience is served a feast as the singers provide a concert of carols. The meal includes Florentine chicken, winter vegetables and a salad.

Flaming plum pudding and wassail will also be served.

“The beauty of the candlelight and the music is part of the formula,” Erwin said. “Visual and musical beauty go hand and hand for certain, and excellent food is a positive as well. All the senses are interdependent, but the music is the key element that speaks to the core of each person.”

Erwin’s legacy has spread throughout the years, as past students have gone on to start Madrigal feasts of their own throughout the state.

“I’m not certain, but I know of seven or eight communities that benefit from former students of the feast,” Erwin said. “There may be more.”

Two years ago, Erwin opted for his choirs to sing “The Messiah” during the holidays rather than hosting the Madrigal feast. It was the first time since 1975 that the feast was not held.

“The joy and happiness experienced by the audience and the participants during the feast bring great rewards,” Erwin said. “But as a musician, I look for opportunities to allow my students to experience as much musical growth as possible. I received several comments from people who were not happy that we weren’t doing the feast that year.”

Tickets are now available for the 34th Madrigal Feaste. The event – which is expected to sell out – will take place on Thursday, Dec. 3, and Friday, Dec. 4. Tickets are $40 and may be purchased at UCA Ticket Central, 501.450.3265 or www.uca.edu/tickets.

For the first time, the event will be held at Centennial Valley Country Club in Conway instead of McCastlain Hall on the UCA campus.

“It’s a very beautiful evening of candlelight, Renaissance costumes and beautiful voices,” Erwin said. “It’s an escape to the past. It’s nice to come to a place far removed from the everyday.”
For more information, please call the Office of the Dean, College of Fine Arts and Communication, at 501.450.3293 or e-mail [email protected].