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Madrigals to perform at Fantasy of Trees

Area schools will once again be participating in or donate to Children’s Hospital of East Tennessee’s annual fund-raiser, Fantasy of Trees, including Farragut High School and various elementary schools.

The FHS Madrigal Singers will perform a variety of music, ranging “from the baroque time period all the way through modern music,” choral director Kenton Deitch said. “It ranges anywhere between four- and eight-part harmony, and 75 percent of it is a cappella, or unaccompanied. We’ll have the piano, finger cymbals, hand drums, which are very typical of a madrigal performance.”

Those who attend the performance, set for 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 21, at Knoxville Convention Center, will hear both traditional songs and old favorites with a new twist.

“There are some familiar songs in the performance. One is ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas.’ We’re doing a unique variation of themes for ‘Jingle Bells.’ We’ve taken ‘Jingle Bells’ and put it into many of the melodies from ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet. We’re doing a variation in themes of ‘Deck the Halls.’ You’ll hear famous classical pieces like [Ludwig van] Beethoven’s ‘Symphony No. 9,’ Rossini’s waltz, with the words of ‘Deck the Halls.’ We’re doing a spoof on ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas;’ we’re doing “The Twelve Days after Christmas,’” Deitch said.

“Anytime I look for music for any kind of concert, I try to get a balance between old and new, sacred and secular. Then I look at the difficulty. I like to choose challenging music, but at the same time I like to choose music, and I hate to use this term because to me no music is easy, but I like to choose easier music that can be performed beautifully.”

To make into the madrigal group, the director said, “There’s an audition, and the students have to sight-read, which is their ability to read music without any help. [Inclusion in the group] is also based on their vocal quality, their participation in class, on their history throughout the chorus program. It is a very distinct privilege to be in this group. Most of the students are juniors and seniors; I believe we have just two or three sophomores who’ve made it in. It’s a highly auditioned and coveted group to be in.”

The group also will be performing at Celebrate the Season, which will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 29, at Farragut Town Hall. For additional information on this event, see the front section of this issue of farragutpress.

Other schools will contribute to Fantasy of Trees by decorating a tree to be sold during the event. Among them are Cedar Bluff Primary School and Cedar Bluff Intermediate School.

Nancy Hullander, CBPS chairperson for Fantasy of Trees, said, “Our [seven-foot] tree’s theme is Tennessee Christmas because the overall theme is [‘Holiday Cheer Down South’]. I guess the Amy Grant song, ‘Tender Tennessee Christmas,’ is our inspiration.”

CBPS’s tree will be decorated with student-made rocking horses, cardinals, candles in baby food jars and snowflakes, while the skirt will have decorated boxes and a train, also made by second-grade students.

“We explain to the children that the trees are decorated and then people go and buy the trees and the money is donated. We’ve told them [the hospital has] bought isolettes in the past with the money raised from Fantasy of Trees, and they can go and visit the tree to see how it turned out,” she added.

CBIS’s four-foot tree also has a nostalgic theme.

“The tree title is called “Christmas Remembered.” We’re going to be using old Christmas cards and making frames for them. We’re also going to have small pine cones that have raffia and little berries and greenery on them,” Cathy Dake, organizer of the Fantasy of Trees school tree, said. “[Third-grade students] actually make the ornaments, but we will have parents come in and help.”

Fantasy of Trees will be held from Wednesday, Nov. 21, to Sunday, Nov. 25. For additional information, visit the Web site


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