The Shippensburg University Madrigal Singers opened up the Christmas season with their annual Christmas concert Friday, Nov. 30. Dinner was also provided, and the Old Main Chapel was packed for both the Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 shows.
One of the many things that was notable about the concert was the venue. The space was able to set the tone for the evening, as it was decorated with a huge Christmas tree, as well as other items to really give off a warm holiday vibe.
Elizabeth Shoenfelt, the director of SU’s choir and madrigal singers, made sure her singers put the effort in so they could perform the best show possible.
“The ensemble meets every week for two hours. We have been rehearsing for these dinners since the second week of classes,” Shoenfelt said. “During concert week, we rehearse towtothree hours a day almost every day.”
Preparing and practicing for such an event could prove stressful to some. For Shoenfelt, however, the choir and Madrigal singers’ director since 2014, preparing for the concert was an exciting experience and only got more so as the show dates got closer.
“I love hearing how the music really starts to take shape and come to life during concert week,” Shoenfelt said. “It seems that as soon as we start rehearsals in Old Main Chapel the week of the concert, the students start to get excited about the concerts, and it impacts their sound. It’s fun once we are in the concert space and can add our choreography and props.”
The members of the Madrigal singers can certainly attest to this. One of those singers is sophomore Erika Otthofer. Otthofer, a dual major in international studies and political science, believes teamwork is a prime part of preparing for a concert.
“Preparing for a concert is a lot about teamwork, defining musicality and how you can blend with other members of the group,” Otthofer said.
Otthofer was one of several singers who performed a stunning solo during a night full of beautiful music all around.
One major component of the concert was how both the singers and the audience members interacted with one other.
Throughout the performance, the singers often performed among the audience, which gave the show an intimate and personal touch.
On top of that, the audience members were also given a list of lyrics to sing along for a few songs.
“I’m looking forward to sharing my love for music with people of all ages. There’s people old and young that come. There’s also alumni that come, and students from the Shippensburg community,” Otthofer said. “They all just want to feel the warmth of Christmas.”
While watching the concert, it was clear that there was a strong sense of unity within the group — both between the singers and the director.
“The support system in our ensemble is really great,” Otthofer said. “[Shoenfelt] is really upbeat. She gives us really good feedback for how to make our pieces come alive.”
The songs performed during the concert change from year to year. However, it serves as a custom to perform some of the same songs every year.
“We begin and end the program every year with the same songs,” Shoenfelt said. “They have been traditions for decades and decades, and the audiences definitely expect us to honor those traditions.”
The concert is a one-of-a kind showcase that truly gets people in the holiday spirit as a great way to spend a night.
“It’s always exciting to see the chapel full of eager audience members and beautifully decorated for Christmas,” Shoenfelt said. “This is such a unique event — unlike any other concert that occurs at Ship — and we all love the festive feeling.”