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Christmas Glorious

Ashland University's Chamber Singers is hosting an Elizabethan era Christmas special in Norwalk.
John Benson
Dec 9, 2013
The Towne & Country Players are hosting the Ashland University Chamber Singers for “Christmas Glorious” Dec. 12 at the St. Mary Parish in Norwalk. The 17-member college singing act will be taking audiences back to the Elizabethan era with costumes and props.
 
We talked to Ashland University Chamber Singers Musical Director Ron Blackley about this decidedly old-school affair.
 
What do you have planned for “Christmas Glorious?”
The Ashland University Chamber Singers have been invited the last several years to do a program in Norwalk. What people will be experiencing is a somewhat abbreviated version of our madrigal feast, which describes the music and the customs in England around 1600. So it’s a retro program, if you will. 
 
So if this is truly from the Elizabethan era, does that mean the audience won’t recognize any of the songs?
They’ll recognize some but not all. Part of it is of historical interest. The music they won’t recognize – the madrigal – was at the time the after-dinner entertainment for wealthy folks, frankly. They’d sit around the table after dinner, pull out sheets of music and just sing. It was just something to do. It’s entirely students from Ashland University, and we dress in reproductions of period costumes like a royal court.
 
So it’s music that William Shakespeare would have known?
Yes, but I’d expect he’d be one of the peasants entertaining the royal court. The illusion is that all of the people in the room are the guests of the king and queen of the royal court. So it’s summed up as this is your holiday dinner and you’re invited guests of this king.
 
Will there be college students playing a king and queen?
Right. They are seniors.
 
With the madrigal songs, does the show run the risk of being too esoteric for a regular Joe in attendance?
Yes, but we try to keep it balanced. It’s primarily a musical program with dinner. And we do have a set of Christmas carols that will also appear.
 
“Christmas Glorious” featuring the Ashland University Chamber Singers takes place at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at St. Mary Parish, 38 W. League St., Norwalk.