Franklin High School Madrigals Selected To Perform In White House

The Franklin High School Madrigal Singers perform “Coventry Carol” Dec. 6 at the Hageman House. The group will perform in the White House on Dec. 22.

The 14 members of Franklin High School’s Madrigal Singers got a surprise easier this year when they received their performance schedules.

Menlo Park Mall, check. Franklin Township Library, check. White House.

White House?

“I didn’t tell the kids on purpose until I handed them their schedules,” said Tim Walton, the elite choral group’s director. “They were pretty excited. They said, ‘You mean THE White House?”

This will be the fourth time in the FHS Madrigal Singers’ roughly 28-year history that the group was selected to perform in the White House for the holiday season. The last was in 2002, Walton said.

The group will perform on Dec. 22, from 1-3 p.m., he said.

“They do holiday tours, and we’ll be like an exhibit on the tours,” he said. “We’ll be in one of the bigger rooms, and as the people walk through, we’ll be singing carols for them.”

Walton said the group has a 25-minute holiday program that consists of 13 songs.

“We’l put that in rotation for two hours,” he said.

After the concert, the group will be taken on a special tour of the White House, he said. He said they were told not to expect the First Family to be home.

“They are excited,” Walton said of his singers. “It’s a little nerve-wracking.”

Walton should know; he was part of the Madrigal group that sang in the White House in 1995.

The Madrigal Singers represent the best of the high school’s Concert Choir members, Walton said. To become a member, students must pass an audition in May, plus they must write an essay.

“It’s fairly serious,” he said. “I want to make sure they are focused enough to be in the group.”

“They have set pieces that they have to learn, and they do some sight reading,” he said. “I really do try to take the best of the vocal students we have so we have a certain level of integrity in the group, and also so I keep a consistent, more mature sound.”

Walton said there are several criteria he looks for in students before accepting them into the Madrigals: “A mature sound, a child with a good work ethic. We only rehearse once a week, so they have to take it upon themselves to put the work in. Someone who has a love of music, and who loves to perform as a way to express themselves.”

Walton is not apologetic for the strict standards to be accepted into the Madrigals.

“We’re performing at the White House,” he said. “They have a prestige about them. I want to maintain that.”

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