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Madrigals’ caroling gigs spread joy in community

Catherine Gagulashvili staff writer

The Madrigals singers have been caroling around the Beverly Hills and L.A. County communities to spread joy throughout the holiday season.

The caroling gigs are small community performances. Some shows, such as performing for the Los Angeles Lion’s Club, have been performed by the Madrigals for over 40 years. Other performances, such as performing at the Bold Holidays at Rodeo Drive are new additions to the Madrigals’ list of caroling spots. The carols include Christmas, Hanukkah and secular holiday songs.

The singers received the sheet music for the carols last May, when they found out if they had made the choral group. They have been preparing for the caroling performances, which also serve as a fundraiser since then. The money raised from caroling goes to the Madrigals ASB account and is later used to help cover the cost of the annual choral trip, will take place in Minneapolis this year.

“We sign up for caroling because the donations benefit our program. We put in so much work [that] it would be a waste if we didn’t get to share it with the community,” junior Dora Hewitt said. “I think it is a super rewarding and worthwhile experience to sign up for.”

The singers can be hired for events at a rate of $150 for 30 minutes. A minimum of eight singers form a vocally balanced group.

“It’s a balanced group. We’re singing at least four part music, which means you have to have a specific amount of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses. So the octet would [include] two sopranos, two altos, two tenors and two basses,” choral teacher Stacey Kikkawa said.

The singers by no means have to sign up for the gigs, but many volunteer simply because they enjoy caroling and its rewards.

“My favorite part of caroling so far has been seeing the faces of people that grew up with some of the songs that we sing; you can’t unsee that feeling of joy,” senior Alan Lubinsky said.

Hewitt agrees that the faces of the audience make the experience worthwhile.

“I love the looks on people’s faces when we sing and it’s beautiful to see people singing along. At one of the gigs I saw a woman crying when we sang ‘Angels We Have Heard On High,’” she said. “It was emotional for me to see how much our music can touch people. It’s a really interesting way to be able to connect with people through song, and just looking at the audience and smiling.”

Kikkawa finds that because caroling is student-run, it helps the singers develop skills such as conducting, dealing with and reacting to audiences, and becoming better performers.

“It’s all the job training. There’s no substitute for the job training and having to perform live all the time. [Caroling] gives [the singers] more performance education and shows the community that students can work in a professional entity,” Kikkawa said. “Any of these community organizations could have hired a professional group, [but they chose to hire the students]. It’s really nice to know that they are thinking about us and they are willing to hire and gift that job training and performance training to the students.”

Even though caroling allows students to become better as singers, the singers keep signing up because of the joy they are able to spread throughout the holiday season.

“I’m just really glad that I have been able to do something like this. It has been so beautiful to share live music with those around us and to brighten another person’s day just by singing to them and acknowledging them. It feels amazing to be acknowledged in return,” Hewitt said. “We did an assembly at Albion Street where we performed the carols and to see the way the kids just purely enjoyed themselves was a one of a kind event for me.” 

Click here to see an interactive map of the Madrigals’ upcoming gigs.

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