Annual feast takes revelers back in time

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published November 22, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated November 21, 2012 at 1:57 p.m.
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The Arkansas State University-Beebe Music Department will open its annual Yuletide Madrigal Feaste on Nov. 29. This event brings together singers, musicians and culinary students from the school.

— While most holiday events involve carols, cookies and strings of lights, Arkansas State University-Beebe is going old-school to celebrate the season. The university is going Renaissance.

For the past 10 or so years (no one can quite pin it down), the school’s music department has kicked off the holiday season with its annual Yuletide Madrigal Feaste. The performances, set for 7 p.m. Nov. 29 and Dec. 1, bring together singers, musicians and culinary students from the university. The evening includes a meal from the University Cafe, set to music and skits by the school’s main choir. And, yes, there will be plenty of wassail.

“It was a tradition started by one of my predecessors that we continue every year,” said Timothy Bartlett, assistant professor of music at ASU-Beebe. Bartlett will direct the choir, with Brent Bristow serving as instrumental conductor and Mary Jo Parker as accompanist.

Bartlett said the term “madrigal” encompasses not only a popular style of vocal music during the Renaissance, but also a type of Italian love poetry that was committed to song.

“It’s a generalization for a lot of the musical styling during the Renaissance,” Bartlett said.

Sketches will also be performed between musical numbers, and students will be decked out in period costumes.

Though the performances come at the end of the semester when most students are scrambling with studying and exams, Bartlett said his students always enjoy preparing for the show. Around 25 students are involved in the performance. Each show saw a crowd of about 60 last year, and Bartlett hopes for an even bigger turnout this year.

Tickets to the Yuletide Madrigal Feaste must be bought in advance and are $20 per person. Tickets may be purchased at the ASU-Beebe Student Center information desk or by calling (501) 882-8951.

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or

Associate Features Editor Emily Van Zandt can be reached at .

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