Dec. 15, 2011
By Luke Baynes
The Champlain Valley Union High School Madrigal Singers are giving gifts this holiday season — just not the kind you wrap and put under the tree.
As the holiday season winds down, the CVU Madrigal Singers — an all-female vocal group composed of 14 juniors and seniors — will donate a few hours of their time when they appear at the Old Brick Church in Williston on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. as part of the Brick Church Music Series.
“Every connection they make with every person in the community is a gift,” said Carl Recchia, who is in his 24th year as choral director of the group. “These guys dedicate a lot of their time to give to the community.”
Despite the difficulties of balancing a demanding singing schedule with the rigors of schoolwork, CVU junior Gracey Delisle said it’s more than worth it.
“It’s really hard. I can almost guarantee that all of us get behind on our homework,” Delisle said. “It is hard to catch up, but for something like this, it’s worth it.”
CVU senior Ashley Strong had similar observations.
“It gets really intense at the end,” she said. “But it’s definitely worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
In addition to concert appearances at various venues around Chittenden County, the Madrigal Singers visit nursing homes and senior communities — spreading youthful holiday cheer to the sick and aged.
Alicia Phelps, a senior at CVU, said singing for the elderly is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of her work with the Madrigal Singers.
“I love it. Not just singing, but the people you get to sing with and how you can share the holidays with other people,” Phelps said. “That’s what the songs really do.”
Phelps added that while senior citizens are often moved to tears by their songs, the emotions run both ways.
“I know I’m equally as moved,” she said. “I get choked up all the time. I’m a sap.”
Delisle equated the communal nature of choral music with the familial warmth that permeates the holidays.
“There’s a lot of different things that people like, and don’t like, about Christmas, but I really like the sense of family and how music brings people together,” said Delisle. “It can be really stressful, especially when our season picks up, but we reach so many people and everyone seems like they always enjoy having us — so it’s fun to bring that feeling to people.”
To achieve their finely honed harmonies, the Madrigal Singers begin rehearsals in September — long before the snowflakes start to fly.
But that’s just fine with Delisle.
“I get called crazy for singing Christmas music in October,” she said with a smile. “But I love it.”
Tickets for the CVU Madrigal Singers’ Dec. 16 performance at the Old Brick Church in Williston can be purchased at the door, at the Williston Town Clerk’s Office or online through the Williston town website (http://town.williston.vt.us/). Ticket prices are $8 in advance or $10 at the door, with discounts available for seniors and children 12 and under.