The Elizabethans

Our Director

The Elizabethans have had only four directors during their more than 35-year history. Current director Linda Krueger has been a member of The Elizabethans since 1991. She took over as director when long-time director Carolyn Orme retired in 2002.

 

Linda's love of music was nurtured growing up in a musical family with both parents being music teachers. She studied piano from early childhood through high school with her mother, and learned to sing madrigals as a member of the concert choir in high school under the directorship of her father. Linda received her bachelor's degree in music education from Northern Illinois University, where she studied voice with Edna Jordan. It was there she met her husband who was her partner in the NIU Madrigal Singers.

The Singers

All members of The Elizabethans have extensive singing experience, ranging from church and university choirs to oratorical and opera groups. Many members play musical instruments as well, including piano, flute, organ, hand bells, violin, guitar, cello, clarinet, recorder and fife. Several singers have college degrees in music and have taught music in elementary schools or give lessons to students.

 

Regardless of musical training and experience, all of our members love to sing and perform. As one member says, "The Elizabethans will be one of the last things I give up." Several members have been part of The Elizabethans more than 10 years.

 

You all looked like you were having such a good time, which, of course, we were, too!
                                    -Metropolitan Family Services

History

Love of singing was the genesis of the group now known as The Elizabethans, who first began singing together just for fun in 1970. In 1971, the Madrigal Singers, as they were then called, performed for the History Club of Wheaton, Illinois. That public performance was the first in what was to become a long history of concerts throughout the greater Chicago area. The singers renamed the group The Elizabethans in the early 70's.

 

One member became the official researcher and designer of the group's authentic Elizabethan era gowns, research which included a trip to England. "You can't always depend on costume books," she noted. Another member, an accomplished milliner, designed hats to complete the costumes.

 

We want to thank you for another splendid musical evening. 

Just as last year the evaluations were all "Excellent."
    -Lisle Public Library

Costumes

The elaborate, jewel-toned gowns worn by The Elizabethans are patterned after those worn by nobles in the court of Queen Elizabeth I.  Clothing indicated the social status of the person wearing a particular costume.  English Sumptuary Laws governed the clothing people could wear, and violating these laws was a serious, punishable offense.  These laws were announced by Queen Elizabeth in Greenwich, on June 15, 1574, and were known as the Statutes of Apparel. The intent of these laws was to keep a tight rein on how much people spent on clothes, and to maintain the social structure of Elizabethan England.

 

Only royalty could wear clothes trimmed with ermine. Nobles could wear clothing trimmed with fox and otter and other furs. Even the materials and colors used for clothes identified rank and privilege.  Purple dye was made by crushing thousands of tiny sea snails, obviously an expensive process and therefore limiting purple clothing to the wealthy class. Similarly, the color red was obtained by crushing a specific kind of insect native to the Mediterranean. Fine-weaved fabrics such as velvet, silk and satin were imported and costly; wool and flax were worn by lower classes.

 

There were no zippers or buttons in the Elizabethan area; dresses were laced much like shoes are today. And people did not know how to set in a sleeve; instead the sleeve was tied to the bodice of the dress by ribbons.

 

People usually wore all the jewelry they owned; that way no one could steal it while they were away from their homes. It was not unusual for a woman to have eight to ten rings on her fingers at one time. No woman ever went out of the house without a hat to match her dress.

 

Our gowns and hats were designed and made by talented members of the group. Of course, we've made some concessions to modernity. Our gowns are sewn by machine, not by hand!

 Your gowns were beautiful. I can't imagine the time that must go into them.

                                                - Metropolitan Family Services