Story by Megan Auren
For the 24th consecutive year, Drake University’s Department of Music has collaborated with Sodexo to recreate a traditional Elizabethan England night of Christmas celebration known as The Christmas Madrigal Dinners.
The dinners will take place at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 8 in Olmsted Center.
The enchanted evening begins with the procession of the Renaissance Court through song and dance.
The six-course meal then ensues. Traditional Wassail, a cider, is served as a drink followed by harvest greens with blood orange vinaigrette, achiote marinated Cornish hens, chorizo and mustard green stuffing, baked apples, scones and figgy pudding.
At the conclusion of the meal , the evening transitions to a live concert. Drake Chamber Choir performs and dancers enhance the experience.
To capture even more medieval realism, Musica Antiqua, a group of musicians who use copied renaissance instruments, has been hired to be a part of the concert.
“Olmsted Center is almost unrecognizable. They do such a phenomenal job decorating,” said Dani Peters, a sophomore member of Drake Chamber choir said.
The dinner’s medieval ambience is enhanced with fresh pine and linen. Furthermore, all servers are in costume and character.
“We bring in a live boar’s head, and it is completely in aspect of medieval times,” said Karen Diltz, the Sodexo catering sales coordinator at Drake.
Aimee Beckmann-Collier, a professor at Drake and the director of Christmas Madrigal Dinners, said, “The Madrigal Dinners are a feast for the senses.”
Peters said the interactiveness of the event makes it enjoyable.
“People underestimate just how happy it can make you,” Peters said, “It’s not a typical concert where you just go and listen. It’s very interactive and therefore transcendent.”
Transportation to a different era and state of mind is an important component of the Christmas Madrigal Dinners.
The purpose of the Madrigal Dinners is to create an atmosphere and experience that allows people to stop all of their frantic activities so that they are able to reconnect with what is most important to them during the holiday season,” Beckmann-Collier said.
The Christmas Madrigal Dinners provide a way for students to get into the holiday spirit.
“It’s a pre-finals break for students to indulge in,” Beckmann-Collier said.
Tickets are on sale for $50 and can be bought through the Drake Fine Arts Box Office at 515-271-3841. For the first time ever, Drake students may use their flex dollars to pay for half of their ticket.
“It’s worth the money a hundred times over,” Peters said.