The student news site of Lincoln-Way East High School

The Winged Messenger

The student news site of Lincoln-Way East High School

The Winged Messenger

The student news site of Lincoln-Way East High School

The Winged Messenger

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April 25, 2024

Now is the Month of Madrigals



For many of the students in the music department, August is considered ‘audition season’. One of the biggest productions students audition for is Madrigals. A capella vocal ensembles, actors, and instrumentalists provide entertainment while guests dine, and for the first weekend of December, Lincoln Way-East is transformed into 16th century England, complete with British accents and period-typical costumes.

Madrigals is a huge production, and like any other production of this scale, plenty of people are involved in ensuring its success. Mrs. Kotze, Ms. Samawi, Ms. Vitucci, and Dr. Johnson direct the performers and combine the various performance elements into the show audiences see on December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  Recently, I reached out to Mrs. Kotze to gain further insight into the efforts that go into the vocal ensembles on a directorial end. Below are her responses.


Q:  Can you tell us a bit about the history of Madrigals at Lincoln-Way East?

A: Madrigals started at Lincoln-Way Central 35+ years ago back when Central was where the upperclassmen went to school, and East was where the underclassmen went to school. It’s been at Lincoln Way-East for at least 20 years.


Q: How long have you been involved with Madrigals at Lincoln-Way East?

A: I’ve been involved with Madrigals here at Lincoln-Way East since 2017, so that’s six years.


Q: What does the creative process of Madrigals look like?

A: The first part of the process is picking the theme. After that, we pick the audition song, a [four-part soprano, alto, tenor, and bass] piece. This year, we chose Now is the Month of Maying. Backing tracks and resources are provided to help students learn the piece, and a week or two before the audition we hold a prep session where we review the music and the acting sides.


Q: Each year, a different theme is chosen, and the song choices and script follow this theme. This year, the theme is four seasons. How do you select the theme and, subsequently, the songs for each year?

A: Seasons was picked because everyone has a favorite season. Because of this, many different songs are written about the seasons, the months of the year, and the emotions tied to them. Ms. Samawi and I consider the [musical] groups (Troubadours, Madrigal Singers, and Bel Canto) and our favorite pieces. The troubadours are singing one of Ms. Samawi’s favorite pieces, for example. We mostly choose historical pieces, but we like to tie in pop music that still fits the theme to spice it up. We might do a Pentatonix piece this year!


Q: How do you see individual and ensemble growth throughout the Madrigals season?

A: Students do a lot of work by themselves, which obviously helps with individual growth, but it also really helps the ensemble grow. Students must communicate a lot, which is so great for young people to learn, and, of course, we love that it’s through music. Organizational skills and memorization skills are also a big part of Madrigals.


Q: How does this year’s production differ from past performances?
A: This year, we are for the first time going to have the Madrigal dinners in the Griffin’s Lair. Obviously, it’s going to be decorated, but we hope it has the royal aesthetic of a royal manor or a castle dining hall.


Q: What do you hope the audience gains from viewing this performance?

A: We always hope it puts them in the holiday spirit. For many, it has historically been the start of their holiday season. And, of course, we hope the audience appreciates the hard work and talent of the students.


Junior Sarah Rehm also provided comment for this article. Last year, she was the section leader for the soprano twos in Bel Canto. She explained, “A section leader in Madrigals helps guide and teach the members of their group.” I also asked her about the growth of the vocal ensembles, and she said, “[w]hen they first come in, they can be quiet, timid, and uncomfortable. You can physically tell when they get more comfortable.” She went on to say that when the ensembles become more comfortable with each other and with the music, the rehearsal process improves overall.


The devotion from the performers and creative team involved with Madrigals is ever clear when the performance dates roll around. Tickets go on sale in November and can be purchased at Last year’s performance of Madrigals was incredible, immersive, and imaginative, and this production will certainly follow in its footsteps!

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