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December 03, 1963 - Image 16

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1963-12-03

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I I

PAGE TEN

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8. 1963

TiUfSDARi~Y LLVCEMULlR 2 V,1U0R2

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Campus Cultural Festivities Spark Holiday Season

LOVE AND POISON:
Druid Rites Create
The Mistletoe Myth,

I

By GAIL BLUMBERG
Strong powers of concentration
will be the survival factor for the
next three weeks as the contagious
cheer of Christmas tempts reluc-
tant scholars to drop their books
for concert programs.
One of the oldest traditions on
campus is the University Choral
Union's performance of Handel's
"Messiah," on Saturday, Dec. 7
at 8:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec.
8, at 2:30 p.m.
Grew From 1879 Club
The present "Messiah" per-
formances are an outgrowth of a
Messiah club formed in 1879 by
singers from several of the Ann
Arbor church choirs. The follow-
ing year the group became known
as the Ann Arbor Choral Union.
This group of University and Ann
Arbor residents undertook the pre-
sentation of concerts\ in local
churches.

The University Choral Union,
working with the newly formed
University Musical Society, began
to direct the Ann Arbor Music
School.
It wasn't until 1929 that the
University began partial support
of this school. In 1940 tie Ann
Arbor Music School was officially
incorporated into the University
as its School of Music.
The Choral Union is still an
organization separate from Uni-
versity control, but its tradition
and close University cooperatior
is firmly rooted in the history of
the Music School.
Other Works Tried
Through the years the singing
of the "Messiah" has persisted.
Other works have been tried, but
none have received such a re-
sponse. In 1947 two performances
became a necessity and so it has
remained.

Today, the Choral Union hqs a
membership of about three hun-
dred University faculty and stu-
dents, Ann Arbor residents, and
people from surrounding cities.
Under the - spoinsorship of the
University Musical Society they
perform two hours of the "Mes-
siah", approximately two thirds of
the work, each year. Selections are
rotated with each new production
and professional artists perform as
soloists.
Featured Soloists
This year, Lois Marshall, Bev-
erly Wolff and John Craig of the
New York City Opera, and Rich-
ard Cross will be the featured
singers.
Renaissance music has always
lent itself admirably to the holi-
day season. The University Musi-
cal Society will present the Ses-
tetto Italiano Luca Marenzio, an
ensemble performing Renaissance
madrigals and Christmas music at
8:30 p.m. on Dec. 10.
The ensemble was created to
perform exclusively madrigal mu-
sic and to work toward the re-
vival of the masterpieces of this
form, many of which have been
obscured in archives and libraries.
Fidelity To Texts
Their main intention is com-
plete fidelity to the authenticity

of the ancient texts and the style
of singing. The group is seated
around a table, in the traditional
casual, Renaissance manner of
madrigal singing.
Madrigals by Luca Marenzio, for
whom the group is named, by Or-
lando di Lasso, Monteverdi, Vecchi
and Gesualado are included in
their repertory, as well as several
harmonic comedies by Banchieri.
The Sestetto Italiano Luca Ma-
renzio will be seen in a special
program of Renaissance Christmas
music by such composers as Pales-
trina, Willaert, da Victoria, and
Orlando di Lasso. In addition, a
selection from their regular reper-
tory will be performed.
This will be the second Ameri-
can tour for the prize-winning
Italiano Sestetto which has play-
ed in music festivals throughout
the world.
The Michigan League is discon-
tinuing its traditional Christmas
carol sing on the Diag. Because of
final exam pressure, groups that
usually participate in this event
are unable to do so this year.
It will be an open sing, with
song sheets and a Santa Claus as
leader, lasting as long as the en-
thusiasm does. In addition, guest
sing groups from the University
will appear.

i

By DUANE MACKIE
Mistletoe: the common name of
various parasitic shrubs of the
family Loranthaceae.
To Americans mistletoe means
much more than just a scientific
generic name. It is a part of
Christmas festivities that has a
meaning and place all its own.
While mistletoe has early be-
ginnings associated with the
Christmas holidays, it goes back as
far as the ancient Druids. With
elaborate rites, the Druids ven-
erated this berry when it was
found growing on oak trees. Pre-
pared as a draught, they used it
as a cure for sterility and an anti-
dote for poisons.
Scandinavian Mythology
Scandinavians were not quite as
enthusiastic about mistletoe as
were the Druids. Nonetheless, they
incorporated it in their mythol-
ogy.
Before Balden, the sun-god, was
born, his mother arranged with
other gods for his protection
against all elements on earth.
However, she neglected to include
the lowly mistletoe. As long as the
secret was kept, her son was safe.
As time went on, Balden incur-
red the wrath of Hoder, the blind
god. Hoder disguised himself as an
old woman and visited Balden's
mother. He was able to extract
the secret from her, and Balden'
was killed by a mistletoe arrow.
Mistletoe Tradition

Noo

tice had to be abandoned because
it was found to set young ladies
and gentlemen to reading mar-
riage service.
The church substituted holly
for mistletoe and eliminated kisses
altogether.
Mistletoe was moved to the kitch-
en and servants' halls where it was
hung up with great ceremony.
Whatever female happened to
stand under mistletoe, the young
man present had the right - or
claimed the right, anyway-to sa-
lute her and to pluck off a berry
at each kiss.
Parlor Mistletoe
The mistletoe was not destined
to remain exclusively in the kitch-
en. Soon it invaded the parlor and
drawing-room.
In America the mistletoe is not
the favorite evergreen for decora-
tion. Holly is more popular and is
often used as a substitute for
mistletoe.
Carol Begins
As Folly~ Song
The Christmas carol originated
in the 15th century as a part of
the mystery play.
The carol was usually sung in
ballad form and thus had its roots
in common society as a folk song.
Some songs generally regarded as
carols, such as "The Twelve Days
of Christmas," are not Christmas
songs at all but the products of
pagan festivals.

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'MESSIAH'-The University Choral Union will present Handel's
"Messiah" at 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 and at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 in
Hill Aud. The featured solosists will be Lois Marshall, soprano;
Beverly Wolff, contralto; John Craig, tenor; and Richard Cross,
bass.

k

7

Centuries ago, mistletoe was
used in churches, rather than in
homes. However, along with kiss-
ing at services, the mistletoe prac-

ARE

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