Choirs to perform in 20th annual ‘Madrigal Feaste’

Leena Hussein and Anna Feng

With elaborate costumes and festive music, Palo Alto High School Choirs will take the stage Saturday for the first of two weekend performances of the 20th annual “Madrigal Feaste”.

Students from Palo Alto High School’s choir program prepare during a dress rehearsal of the 20th annual Madrigal Feaste performance this afternoon in the Performing Arts Center. Paly choirs will have their first performance at 2 p.m. Saturday in the PAC. According to Spectrum Choir member Eloise Dumas, unlike the previous three years, which were affected by the pandemic, this year’s Feaste will allow students the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in their roles. “Last year, we were still kind of coming out of Covid and we hadn’t done an in-person Madrigal Feaste in a while and so this year … we’re going to be fully warmed up,” Dumas said. “We’re going to be even more confident in what we’re doing because we have that reference point of last year, and so I’m excited to see what people do with that.” (Photo: Leena Hussein)

According to choir teacher Brittney Kerby, the Madrigal Feaste is mainly a comedic play about King Henry VIII’s search for a wife, with musical acts throughout. The Feaste will include performances from all the Paly choirs where students will dress up in formal Renaissance attire and perform a variety of songs. 

“It [the storyline] is really just an excuse for us to wear our fancy … 18th-century attire and have fun playing sort of characters in that big time period,” Spectrum Choir member and junior Eloise Dumas said. “The plot is mainly there to establish the vibe and the ambiance.”

Senior Luz-Elena Pacheco, who plays Queen Catherine in the performance, said the plot enhances the meaning behind the music the choirs will perform.

“It [the plotline] adds more storytelling,” Pacheco said. “They [the plot and music] just go together really well and it just makes the music a lot more meaningful and emotional.”

Kerby said the Feaste has become a meaningful and well-known tradition at Paly.

The Madrigal Singers have been a foundation to the Paly community since the 1950s,” Kerby said. “In the last 20 years, we’ve had the tradition of putting on the Madrigal Feaste. It’s a festive, family-friendly event that has become well-known to our community and is unique to Paly.” 

According to Kerby, audience members will be able to enjoy a variety of small appetizers and hors d’oeuvres catered by Douce France to create an “English town” feel during the performance

Dumas said preparation for the Feaste began in October, following their fall concert, but most of the preparation took place this week. 

“First, we started learning the music, and then people got their roles a couple of weeks ago,” Dumas said. “For spectrum, it was quite a quick turnaround with learning the music, so I know a lot of us have one of our three songs memorized, but we need to work on the other two. So, a lot of people are feeling the time crunch.”

Students also had the opportunity to audition for various speaking roles throughout the concert, which Dumas said was a welcome break from the usual singing. 

“I got one of the four-line roles [this year], which is fun, and last year I had a line as well,” Dumas said. “Last year, it [the concert] had a number of single-line roles, so it’s always fun to just go on [the stage] and get to say something more.” 

For Pacheco, this is her first performance with a major role, and she is looking forward to playing Queen Catherine in her last Feaste as a senior.

“I’m just a lot more excited to see how we come together because all of us seniors I know are going to be emotional about it and putting in our best work,” Pacheco said. “I’m excited to see how we’re going to be able to make the magic happen in everything because it’s always so exciting to like hear the music and like feel all the emotions when we’re on stage.”

The Madrigal Feaste is especially unique because it allows audience members to experience a variety of concerts all combined into one, which Dumas said helps make the concert more engaging. 

“It [the Madrigal Feaste] happens once a year, and it’s not really something that you would experience in a lot of other places,” Dumas said. “It is quite interactive, which is another fun element of it because it’s not quite a choir concert, but it’s also not quite a play.”  

According to Kerby, the Feaste’s emphasis on creating a highly interactive and visual performance helps bring the community together.

What’s not to like,” Kerby said. “[We have] food, music, comedy, festive decorations and costumes. It’s unlike any other performance you will see. We love sharing our love for music with our community.” 

The Madrigal Feaste will take place at 2 p.m. Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 in the Performing Arts Center. Students can purchase tickets online at