McDaniel singers will enter the world stage as the McDaniel College Madrigal Singers step up for a performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during their Millennium Stage Series.
The Millennium Stage is the Kennedy Center's free concert series, where a diverse array of artists perform live shows every day. In addition to the couple of hundred Kennedy Center visitors watching the concert live, the concert is live-streamed for viewers throughout the world and stored on the Millennium Stage website, where music fans can search through its multi-year archive.
Margaret Boudreaux, director of the Madrigals said the last time the Madrigals performed at the Kennedy Center, both McDaniel College and the music series had different names.
"This was 1998, so it wasn't the Millennium Stage yet it was the Grand Foyer Series, and at the time we were still Western Maryland College," Boudreaux said. "We haven't been there since, for a large number of reasons and distractions. This last year I decided to make a special effort to see if we could get in."
The Madrigals is McDaniel's acappella vocal ensemble. They primarily perform Renaissance Madrigals, but they also perform world music as well as acappella versions of modern hits. Boudreaux said it was through sheer luck that the group was able to nab a slot so quickly. Another group canceled their Nov. 10 performance on the Millennium Stage, and it just so happened the group had availability on the same date.
Antoinette Martin, a McDaniel senior from Cape Coral, Florida, said the Kennedy Center concert was an exciting opportunity, and Thursday will represent her first trip to the famous theater.
"I started singing at McDaniel with the choir during my freshman year, and I just remember that at every choir concert where the Madrigals performed as well, I couldn't believe how awesome they sounded," she said. "They really inspired me to try and join in as well."
Martin's sister, Sakena, also a senior Madrigal performer at McDaniel, said it's a little nerve-wracking to take the stage not only at a historic theater, but in front of the entire world as they live stream and revisit the concert in the Millennium Stage archives.
"Margie has been telling us to stay focused and be prepared," Sakena said. "Anyone could walk into the concert, even the president of the United States."
Boudreaux said the Madrigals focus on the classic Renaissance spirit when it comes to their music. She said the performers sing just as much for their own enjoyment as that of the audience. They have performed throughout the county and state at churches, community events and at Renaissance festivals. During their performances, the Madrigal Singers dress in Renaissance clothes and occasionally invite the audience to sing along with them.
Antoinette said one of the challenges of the Madrigal choir is that it's much more intimate than the accompanied full choir.
"If you are even a little bit out of tune, you can throw everyone off," Antoinette said. "Because we're so small, if the tenors are singing one part and altos are singing another and they don't quite go together, you have to hear what you're singing, and tune out the different sections while also staying together."
Senior Jimmy Calderon, of Falls Church, Virginia, said he loves the blend of Renaissance-era music with contemporary songs. He said some of the songs he's most excited to perform Thursday are "In My Life" by the Beatles and "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap. The group will also perform "America" by Samuel Francis Smith for Veteran's Day, and "McDaniel College Alma Mater" because a number of McDaniel, choir and Madrigal alumni are planning on attending the event.
Antoinette and Sakena said they like the Renaissance aspects of the performance.
"I love the costumes so much," Antoinette said. "I'm a theater major, so costumes are pretty much my life. This gives audiences a chance to be taken back to a time to not see or hear every day."
If You Go
What: McDaniel College Madrigal Singers
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10
Where: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F. St., NW Washington, DC 20566
For more information: To watch the livestream, visit www.kennedy-center.org/video/upcoming