Medieval festival brings together music and history

Sean Dunleavy, Sports Editor

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  • History teacher Jeremy Pilver explains the purpose of the fair to an incoming group of students.

    Amanda Roth

  • History teacher Jeremy Pilver observes the project of two freshmen students.

    Amanda Roth

  • Senior Emily Williams, sophomore Kyle Wolkner, senior Catherine Steffens and junior Thomas Heath-Ringrose.

    Amanda Roth

  • Freshmen Joy Chen and Ananya Viswanathan present their project.

    Amanda Roth

  • Junior Allison Barone and seniors Dana Swidorsky, Jordan Ungiechajer, Ally Urban and Emily Turkeltaub perform at the Medieval Festival.

    Amanda Roth

  • Senior Emily Williams, Sophomore Kyle Wolkner, senior Catherine Steffens, junior Thomas Heath-Ringrose, and seniors Heather Kirkness and Jonathan Hammond.

    Amanda Roth

  • Freshmen Marin Quigley and Haoyi Wang.

    Amanda Roth

  • Junior Allison Barone and Seniors Dana Swidorsky, Jordan Ungiechajer, Ally Urban and Emily Turkeltaub.

    Amanda Roth

  • Music Department Chair Leslie Imse interacts with festival attendees while the Madrigals perform.

    Amanda Roth

  • Freshman Brett Zarmsky and Timothy Erlikh present their project to an attendee.

    Amanda Roth

  • Freshman Kathleen Griffin explains her project to festival attendees.

    Amanda Roth

  • Seniors Dexter Willett and Angelica Padua.

    Amanda Roth

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World History I classes took a trip to the library on April 13 during periods one through four to be greeted by a musical lesson about medieval history. Once there, students were able to visit booths and able to watch presentations about the time period all while songs from the era were performed.

Although the inaugural event only lasted a few hours, preparations had been in the works since last summer when Music Department Chair Leslie Imse and history teacher Jeremy Pilver decided that they wanted to design an interdisciplinary unit.  

“The idea was to give students a richer learning experience in one particular era that we could follow through both disciplines: history and music.  We had been planning it and meeting for it almost every single week since this summer to figure what kind of common experiences we wanted all of our freshmen students to have and what the culminating event would look like.  A lot of planning went into the one-day event,” Imse said.

One of the components to the event was to allow students who play new instruments to learn a different style of music and to show them how music can provide context for the state of the era and how people were thinking and acting at the time.

“I think all those things really add to the authenticity of the experience. They’re singing secular and religious songs, and I think it really created an atmosphere that fit well with the kinds of products and topics that the students were discussing and selling. I think it was a really enriching component and also provides them a window into the kinds of music and performances and arrangements and melodies that would be fitting to the time period, and it helps to broaden their overall knowledge of the medieval period,” Pilver said.

According to Imse, one of the main focuses of the fair was to show how the development of music can represent the growth of culture as a whole. She added that the mood and subject of a song can also be an important aspect of understanding the state of the people during a time period as it usually reflects their beliefs and values.

Some older students were asked to give performances and to dress up in medieval attire. Senior Jordan Ungiechajer served as a background style performer for the fair.

“I thought the preparation was a lot of fun for this performance because I was able to learn a new type of music and instrument. Also I was able to dress up and do something you normally don’t do in a school day,” Ungiechajer said.

In addition to the musical performances and presentations, a marketplace was set up to teach the students how to what was valued during the time period.  It also gave them a physical example of what someone who was living in that era would see and to show how much people had advanced from previous time periods.

“I thought that the marketplace was a very creative and effective method of simulating medieval society. I was able to learn how medieval townspeople needed powerful institutions and unique innovations of the Middle Ages,” freshman Ethan Grubelich said.

Based on how the fair went, and the feedback that they received, Imse and Pilver expect to continue this event in future years. They want to work with other departments to expand the fair to include more aspects about medieval times.

“Hopefully, we’ll make it kind of a school wide event, not just something limited to social studies, not something just limited to music, but to have all the core disciplines involved,” Pilver said.