JHS Madrigal Singers And A Cappella Choir Spread Cheer During the Holiday Season
The Jamestown High School Madrigal Singers, an elite vocal ensemble, spends much of its December giving back to their community by providing free concerts to brighten the holiday season. The Madrigal Singers are one subgroup, which also include the Men of Tomorrow and the Ladies of Today, of the JHS A Cappella Choir.
Each year approximately 25 members of the JHS A Cappella Choir are selected by audition for membership in the Madrigals. Under the direction of Norman Lydell, this group performs at 15 to 20 community functions in and around the Jamestown area during the holiday season. Their repertoire consists of sacred vocal selections, spirituals and lighter holiday songs suitable for a variety of performance venues. This year, the Madrigal Singers performances included: the Jamestown Rotary Club, the Marvin House and Lutheran Social Services Rosch Center, to name just a few. The community performances are important to the students involved.
“Our music program at JHS is so diverse and it is wonderful when we get to share it with the local community,” said Corin Derby, JHS A Cappella President and a member of the Madrigal Singers. “We love showcasing our talents and sharing with everyone our love of music and how much is speaks to us. It is such a great experience to sing with both the Madrigal Singers and A Cappella. I love being a part of A Cappella and Madrigal Singers because everyone accepts you for who you are. When I joined in tenth grade, everyone was so nice to me and I keep in touch with the seniors who welcomed me in my first year.”
In addition to the Madrigal Singers community performances in December, the 80-member A Cappella choir also holds their annual Vespers, a series of community musical concerts, which have been performed by the group for the last 94 years. Miss Ebba Goranson founded the A Cappella in 1924 and established a standard of excellence and many traditions, which are still celebrated today. Under the leadership of “Aunt Ebba,” the choir established a special place in the hearts of the people of Jamestown. The tradition and heritage of this choir has been maintained under the direction of Donald B. Bube, Brian A. Bogey, and currently, Norman D. Lydell. The concerts were a way for sacred holiday songs to be performed by Jamestown’s students for the community to enjoy. Next year will be the 95th Anniversary of the A Cappella choir and alumni will be invited to sing at the second Vesper Service. Alumni members are encouraged to call Lydell at 483-4248 for more information.
“I think it is nice for our community to come out and see the future of our town. We get an opportunity to show the community what the music program does for kids and it also leaves a positive message to the community around the holidays,” aid Asha deHarder, a member of Madrigal Singers and A Cappella. “A Cappella is special because of its rich tradition. When you walk into Vespers, you know that others have done it before you the same way for the last 94 years. You feel such a connection to the past.”
In addition to the annual Vespers, the JHS A Cappella Choir has showcased the amazing talents of JHS music students to people around the country and the world including performances. Performances include the National Shrine Basilica in Washington, D.C; New York City’s famed Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church; St. Michael’s R.C. Cathedral in Toronto, Canada; St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna, the Basilica in Innsbrook; the Cathedral in Salzburg, England’s Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral; Saint Anne de Beaupre and Notre Dame Basilica in Quebec City, Canada; New York City’s Saint John the Divine Cathedral, the famous Park Avenue United Methodist Church and the historic Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church; Boston’s Old North Church; Washington D.C.’s National Presbyterian Church; Chicago’s Queen of All Saints Basilica and Fourth Presbyterian Church; the Baltimore Basilica and the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church . The choir has participated in master classes at Harvard University, North Park University, and the University of Maryland. The choir has performed on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington, the Holocaust Museum, the Kennedy Center, Arlington National Cemetery, Fort McHenry and Disney World. In 2009, the Madrigal Singers performed with recording artist Kenny Rogers and in 2015, Cappella performed with acclaimed artist Jim Brickman.
“I spend a lot of time explaining the performance expectation, the history of the choir program, and the importance of maintaining our rich heritage to my students, said Lydell. “Only after performing with the choir do they truly understand what it means to sing for such an appreciative community. We have a large number of A Cappella alumni that are quick to tell the kids the meaning of choir membership back in their day, and how proud they are to know that the legacy continues even today. I am one of those alums, and I’m equally proud to be a part of today’s A Cappella Choir. Our story is a motivating force for both director and student; it inspires us to work hard and strive for excellence, while enjoying the making of music and the sharing of our tools and talents together.”