Entertaining Music and A Delicious Feast
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Travel back in time to the Medieval Era for an evening of entertaining music, a delicious feast, and jesters to “bring joy into the season.”That’s the promise that Ms. Stacy Cunningham makes of the annual Yuletide Dinner, one of the most prominent performances for our Leyden Chamber singers and GraceNotes.
As the Lords and Ladies, dressed in head to toe in long, velvet dresses and intricate tunics feast at the ‘high table,’ the guests are personally greeted and seated at round tables by the maiden GraceNotes. Festive garlands, red ribbons, and glimmering lights fill the room with warmth and holiday spirit.“We’ve been working for this for weeks and weeks,” explains senior Chambers singer Hadassah Moser. “The excited nervousness lingers in the air, as we stand silently outside the Little Theater. It’s pitch black except for the string of white Christmas lights that are draped along the wall and contribute to the medieval atmosphere. The doors are open, we hear the pitch, and then we go. One by one we go through the doors with the chords finally clicking into place as we gather into the arc at the front of the room. With a smile in our tone we relax, because finally, our hard work has yielded results.”
The 22nd annual Yuletide Dinner is “a dinner to kick off the holiday season…centered around Christmas time…[with] old English typical music from the Renaissance and Medieval periods and costumes,” Cunningham said. Taking place on December 2, 3, and 4, around 100 or more friends and family are welcomed each night to dine on chicken, roast beef, potatoes, and pasta, and enjoy dessert with warm, delicious apple cider, all while constantly entertained by the Chambers, GraceNotes, and jesters.
The night is filled with interesting and unexpected moments. “When I walk through the doors of the Little Theater, with the boar’s head in hand, and yell out that ‘We have good news!’ described senior Chambers singer Mason Becker, “everyone in the theater turns to the back in shock. Then… making our way through the crowd to the stage and then placing the head on the table in front…[as] the Chamber singers sing about the great feast.”
The Yuletide music varies from “slower songs that have more to do with creating a beautiful atmosphere,” explains Moser, “to funny songs to allow us a chance to connect with the audience and make them laugh.” There are also “classic songs that we sing to welcome the audience into our story.”
For example, “[a song] about love and how your heart is being offered to another person even though they let you down, you’re still in love with them,” junior Chambers singer Marilyn Fuentes shared.
After months and months of constant practice during summer and the beginning of the school year, the singers finally have the opportunity to sing for the community and present their hard work and dedication for a passion some hope to carry on. By the end of the night, “We reach the final song, silent night,” Moser describes. “The lights go out and all that can be seen is the faint glow of the candles we each hold. The chords ring, and we feel nothing but nostalgia. It’s over. The weeks of hard work have come to a close, and tears come to our eyes as the last “ooh” of the song is sung.”
As soon as the Chamber singers walk out into the hallway, senior Chambers Singer Miranda Flanagan explains, “[We] try to hold it together until we finish the song and the doors close and we all have this gigantic group hug.”
While learning over more than 35 songs for a one of Leyden’s traditional and unique events, the Yuletide Dinner also “brings you closer together with the people you’re singing with[because] it made us work together really hard to perform the best that we could,” Moser reflected.