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Madrigal on the move: BSU’s Madrigal Dinner performances to take place at Concordia Language Villages

BEMIDJI -- Nearly half a century after BSU first transplanted its dinner guests to the days of chivalry, knighthood and royal feasting, the university’s annual Madrigal Dinner will take place at a new location.

For the first time, Concordia Language Villages will host BSU’s Madrigal Dinner. Five performances of the show, now in its 49th year, will run from Nov. 30 through Dec. 3.

Although organizers wanted to continue the traditions decades in the making, they also wanted to enhance the experience, as well as collaborate with other groups throughout the area.

“We had been talking about ways to continue to strengthen our relationships with the community and create sustainable ties,” BSU Choral Activities Director Dwight Jilek said about moving the Madrigal Dinner to Concordia.

According to the university, the Madrigal Dinner “recreates a yuletide feast in a renaissance castle in Elizabethan England,” including characters ranging from the king and queen to beggars.

In addition to strengthening ties to the community, Jilek said one of the driving reasons behind the move to Concordia was to intensify the illusion of taking guests back to another time in another place.

“What we were discussing was this idea of how to transport people, who are attending, to another place,” Jilek said. “This is essentially what the Concordia Language Villages are made to do….It’s complete immersion.”

The program will included the joined forces of some 75 individuals, which includes cast members, musicians and support staff.

The program first began in 1968 under the direction of former BSU professor Paul Brandvik. Until this year, the dinner had been held on BSU’s campus. This year, the event will take place in Concordia’s Salolampi Finnish Village, taking away the need to manufacture the sets that were needed to transform the space at BSU.

Since the dinner is hosted at a new location outside of town, there will be a complimentary shuttle available. However, seating will be limited.

While the traditional event may take a slight new flavor at the new environment, Jilek said it will still include many of the same qualities that fans have come to love throughout the decades.

“The traditional service music, the toasting of the wassail, the bringing-in of the boar’s head -- all of those remain,” Jilek said.