Sickness in Harmony: Madrigals Perform Through Cold and Flu Season


Ainsley Black, Staff Writer

Around this time of year, the holiday spirit is spreading around. People are enjoying different activities like ice-skating, sledding, skiing, seeing lights, and performances. People are enjoying time with their families and looking forward to a break in busy school or work schedules. However, for the Highland Madrigals, the work does not end around the holiday season. It is just beginning.

The Highland Madrigals have a holiday season full of concerts, performances, appearances at local church parties, and many other places. They try to appear at as many places they are invited to, so that they can get the most out of their hard work by being able to show it off. Although many of the students involved would say that being able to perform is one of the best parts about Madrigals, it does also tend to add stress to teenager’s lives as they try to multitask the commitment to their choir and the rest of their commitments in life.

Highland junior and Madrigal, Mim DeWaal, loves her time spent with the rest of her choir, but also acknowledges some of the hardships that come along with it. “The hardest part is probably right as we start to learn a new song,” DeWaal said. “You have to get a feel for it but also keep track of the fifteen other songs we are learning at the same time. The memorization is hard at first, especially during the holiday season, but it gets easier after the first few performances.”

Alisha Slater, the choir teacher at Highland, praises her Madrigals for their hard work that they have put in. She explained that not only do they have a fourth period on B days to perfect their songs, but Madrigals are also expected to work by themselves at home to memorize parts of their songs before their next in school practice.

“It gets pretty tricky,” Slater said. “I give them a rehearsal schedule and they have to learn a certain chunk by next class. Then they practice at home, come prepared, we put it together in class, then we move on. It goes pretty quick.”

To prepare the Madrigals for their performances throughout most of December, Slater makes sure to have a set prepared (about 30-40 minutes or 15 songs). Slater makes it a goal to have both secular and sacred songs. “I do try to find a good balance of secular and sacred,” Slater said. “I hope people don’t feel discriminated against.”

This way when people email to ask if the Madrigal choir can perform, it is not a question of whether they’re prepared, it’s a question of whether they’re already booked that night.

As the Madrigals are very busy with their schedules, what would happen if a problem came up that prohibited them from performing?

A few weeks ago, the vast majority of the choir got sick. They performed in a winter concert along with Hillside Middle School’s choir where some people began to feel under the weather. About a week after their performance, the Madrigals performed in a night show, and the next day, only 8 out of the 24 Madrigals were able to make it to class. The next rehearsal after that was held over Zoom to allow everyone to get to feeling better.

“We held [rehearsal] over Zoom while slowly we all came back to class,” DeWaal said. “Some of our voices are still a bit craggily, but we are all back at school.”

Luckily, the choir didn’t miss a performance and they’re back to in person, healthy rehearsals. However, this did add to their stress as they did not want to have to miss out. After all the work they put in, none of the Madrigals want to have to miss a performance.

Even with all the stress that comes along with it, many agree that the rehearsals and stress are worth it for the reward of performing.

“Singing during the holidays is so busy, but it’s so worth it,” DeWaal said. “The songs are so fun to sing, and we all spend a ton of time together, always laughing, then performing, then celebrating. I love my Mads.”