A Feast of Music

It’s a sad but true fact that each year at this time, the cacophony of retailers seeking to boost year-end sales by hijacking our biggest national holiday becomes louder, tackier, shallower, and ever more shameless. The best way to fire any remaining embers of nostalgia for the holiday season is often to block out the din by harking back to ancestral holiday celebrations – the Christmas that existed before it was usurped by the retailers, if there is such a thing.

The College of Charleston’s Madrigal Singers embrace that ancient idea each December with their annual Madrigal Dinners, when they invite guests to experience a holiday celebration the way folks of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance would have known it. This year’s sold-out feasts are already history, but you can catch the spirit of the Renaissance on Thurs. Dec. 21 at 7 p.m., when SCETV will air a broadcast of one of this year’s musical feasts.

Madrigal Singers Present: A Yuletide Evening will not feature any strings of blinking electric lights (originally meant to simulate candles), no fat, bearded men in red and white fur, no suggestion of elves or reindeer, or even gifts, for that matter – and absolutely no modern-day department store holiday music. What it will include are the authentic trappings of ancient Yuletide celebrations and beautiful music in the tradition of the earliest known Christmas songs. If that won’t get you in the holiday spirit, nothing will. –Patrick Sharbaugh

Heritage Awards

Got a favorite sweetgrass basket-maker you buy from every time you need a Lowcountry-flavored gift? Here’s your chance to give her the props you think she deserves. The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission has created a passel of new awards for local achievement, and they’re looking for nominees. The SCAAHC Preservation Awards were created to honor individuals and groups who’ve made significant contributions to preserving and interpreting African American history and culture in our state. The commission presents awards in four categories: individual, groups or organizations, projects, and lifetime achievement.

The SCAAHC represents all regions of the state and aims to “identify and promote the preservation of historic sites, structures, buildings, and culture of the African American experience in South Carolina.” Individuals and organizations may even nominate themselves, if they have no shame at all. To be eligible, prospective nominees must get a nomination form in by Jan. 8. Winners will be recognized at an awards ceremony on Jan. 26, 2007. For more information contact W. Marvin Dulane at 953-7614, or Michael Allen at 881-5516, ext.12. –Matt Gannon