Evergreen Park Community High School’s Madrigal Singers are an auditioned group of the school’s top vocal performers who entertain the community throughout the holiday season and beyond by singing a cappella with Renaissance music.
By Kelly White
While living in uncertain times, Evergreen Park Community High School’s Madrigal Singers continue to ring in peaceful voices.
The Madrigal Singers are an auditioned group of the school’s top vocal performers who entertain the community throughout the holiday season and beyond. During the holiday season, they sang a cappella with Renaissance music and traditional Christmas carols.
“My favorite part about being a Madrigal Singer is the experience of putting music together,” said Hope Michalek, 17, of Evergreen Park.. “Each person is essential to make the group special and has an impact on our sound. Learning individual parts are important, but putting the parts together and hearing the connection is what makes it special.”
The group of 11 singers, ranging from freshmen to seniors, is led by Amy Kazin, the choir director at Evergreen Park Community High School. She is also the musical director, activities director, and the department chair for art, industrial tech, music, and world languages at EPCHS, 9901 S. Kedzie Ave.
“We strive to have balanced sections, but I never have a minimum or maximum number in mind when they audition,” Kazin said. “It’s more about finding the right blend of voices and an appropriate ability level.”
Kazin has been instructing the Madrigal Singers for the past nine years and said the closeness between the group of singers is what helps to make them so successful.
“The Madrigal Singers are a very tightly-knit group of students,” she said. “They have to be to achieve the blend necessary for the desired sound. Most of the things I do at EP involve large numbers of students. The choir averages between 60 and 80 members and our musicals typically have a cast of no less than 40. Working with a small group like Madrigal Singers allows me to get to know the students at a different level. Also, I enjoy watching them feel the joy of entertaining people during the holiday season. Each of our stops along the holiday tour is rewarding in its own unique way.”
During their seasonal performances, the Madrigal Singers dress in traditional Renaissance costumes that were handmade.
“Madrigals to me is being a family,” said Matthew Summers, 17, of Evergreen Park.
He isn’t the only one that feels that way. The Madrigal Singers have been a part of the high school for decades, bringing consistency, tradition and holiday cheer, along with over 35 years of consecutive first division ratings at the IHSA Solo and Ensemble Contest.
To join the unique group of vocalists, a student must submit a recorded audition at the beginning of each school year that includes tonal memory exercises, scales, triads, and a prepared piece. If accepted, they accept the responsibility to commit to a rigorous rehearsal schedule, independently prepare their parts prior to rehearsal, and to represent their families, their school, and their community in the best way possible.
The singers rehearse in the evenings throughout the fall semester and average about 15 performances in a two-week time period in December. Besides their traditional December performance, they also sing at assisted living facilities, senior citizen holiday parties, and many other community events.
Last year, they even provided some holiday shopping music at Meijer. In the spring semester, the Madrigal Singers become the Unaccompanied Minors, a pop a cappella group that performs at larger events like the Autism Walk at Soldier Field and the annual Beverly Breast Cancer Walk on Mother’s Day.
“My favorite part about being in Madrigals is being able to work with awesome people who care a lot about music to create really fun experiences,” said Jamia Head, 15, of Evergreen Park.
“I love the feeling of togetherness that everyone is able to share,” said Nicholas Jacobs, 18, of Evergreen Park.
Because of gathering limitations due to COVID-19, the Madrigal Singers held a Holiday Concert free during mid-December via YouTube. People can also follow them on social media or check the school’s website for more information.