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Madrigal group sings ‘for someone else’s supper’ at Lawrence Library


PEPPERELL — The Renaissance is being reawakened. That is, at least, for the patrons of the Lawrence Library.

On Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. the library is playing host to the Goodlie Companye, a 10-person madrigal singing group that will be performing a historical range of arias, from a chant circa 900 up to songs from several hundred years ago. They also discuss the history of the songs.

For consistency’s sake and to add to the show, the group will also be appearing in full era-appropriate garb, from the long feathers in their hats to the brocaded vests down to their full-length velvet skirts and breeches.

Much like a Renaissance group of traveling bards that they emulate, the Goodlie Companye does not charge a fee for their performance, rather they request donations. However, in a unique twist, the singers are not asking for monetary donations, nor are they asking for donations for themselves. Instead, the group is asking for nonperishable food donations to be given to the Pepperell Aid from Community to Home Outreach.

Ann Jakiela, founder of the group, said the Goodlie Companye has always encouraged its audience members to direct any donations to the local food pantry.

“We sing for someone else’s supper,” she said.

Since the Worcester-based group began performing 20 years ago, she said, they’ve directed potential earnings towards helping the community.

“Many of us work and earn our daily bread that way, so with money, it wasn’t question of needing it,” she said. “I felt it was a good way to take the money we might otherwise earn and put it to a better cause.”

The goodwill mission of the singing group extends to the venues they perform at, as well. For the most part, said Jakiela, the Goodlie Companye performs at nursing facilities, rehab hospitals and events that contribute to charity.

“Several of us (who are still members) sang in the original group, and we performed at nursing homes and (places) like that. The people were just dying for entertainment,” she said. “I always liked children and older people and it just seemed natural to get out and provide entertainment in particular to those people that couldn’t get out and see entertainment too much.”

This contributes to why the group doesn’t charge for their programs.

“Some nursing homes don’t have big budgets but that doesn’t stand in the way of the performance.”

The group began two decades ago when, after singing for years through community outlets and in productions in her church, Jakiela decided to take a page out of the book of 16th century singers by creating her own madrigal singing group.

“People would get together and sing for entertainment, for themselves. They would go to friends’ houses and hang out and sing,” said Jakiela. “They didn’t have TV or radio or anything like that; it was entertainment.”

And that’s how the Goodlie Companye operates.

“We’re just a group of friends who like to get together and sing,” said Jakiela.

Since the beginning, the group has been fluid, with members coming and going throughout the years. The youngest member was 16; the oldest was in his 70s.

“We’re very serious about our music but none of the people in the group are professional musicians. We get together in our free time,” said Jakiela.

The program is appropriate for audience members of all ages.

“We try to make it good for everyone. We try to not do things that are offensive or too risqué,” said Jakiela. “My hope is they enjoy a visual spectacle and some very lovely music.”