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Madrigal Singers records

 Collection 0082-SCPA

The Madrigal Singers were organized at the University of Maryland in 1958 by Professor Rose Marie Grentzer to perform vocal and instrumental music dating from the pre-Renaissance period to twentieth-century America. The group's records include photographs, programs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, music, reels, and administrative records documenting the operation and performances of the Madrigal Singers.


  • 1958-2019
  • Majority of material found within 1959-1970

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research. Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment:

Duplication and Copyright Information

Copyright remains with the creators and rights holders. The University of Maryland Libraries is granted permission for the use in scholarly research by the Libraries’ patrons under fair use in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act.


21.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The University of Maryland Madrigal Singers records span the period 1958 to 1974; the bulk of the material dates from 1959 to 1970. The records consist of correspondence, clippings, publicity, student lists, performance-related documents, sheet music, audio recordings, photographs, and memorabilia. The major topics covered include requests, plans, programs, and notes of appreciation for concerts, especially the State Department tour.

Administrative History

In the fall of 1958, a group of musically-inclined students at the University of Maryland at College Park began gathering during the noon hour to sing madrigals for their own enjoyment. Madrigals are secular polyphonic songs with parts for four to six voices, usually having no accompaniment; the style developed in Europe during the Renaissance. In 1959, the group was officially recognized by the university and became known as the Madrigal Singers, under the direction of Rose Marie Grentzer, a professor of music and chairperson of the Music Education Division of the University of Maryland.

Due to the nature of the music, the group remained small over the years, ranging from twelve to twenty-two singers and musicians. The students, both undergraduates and graduates, came from various academic departments on campus. Membership was gained through audition, and singers slowly joined the group after a "warming" period. The Singers performed concerts of music from the Middle Ages up to the modern day, though the focus was always the Renaissance. They used Renaissance-period instruments and wore Renaissance costumes specially crafted by the Home Economics Department.

The Madrigal Singers performed locally and internationally. Local highlights included concerts at the White House, the headquarters of the Organization of American States, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. Performances were also held on the University of Maryland campus and at other schools, libraries, museums, and organizations, as well as at national meetings, such as the Music Educators National Conference. In the late 1960s and in 1970, the group gave several personal performances for the author Katherine Anne Porter with selections from the author's own song book.

The Madrigal Singers also sang on television and radio and made recordings for distribution to other countries. Beginning in 1960, the group performed each Christmas season on Baltimore, Maryland, television as the WBAL-TV Carollers.

Their success as a musical group reached its pinnacle in 1964 when they participated in a U.S. Cultural Presentations Program tour sponsored by the State Department. For fourteen weeks from February to May, the Madrigal Singers performed over ninety concerts in eleven countries in the Near East, North Africa, and the British Isles.

The Madrigal Singers disbanded after Rose Marie Grentzer's retirement in 1974.


This collection is organized into eight series:

  1. Administrative records
  2. Production files
  3. Correspondence
  4. State Department tour records
  5. Audio recordings
  6. Photographs
  7. Memorabilia
  8. Scrapbooks

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The records of the Madrigal Singers were transferred to University Archives in July 1974 by Rose Marie Grentzer. The collection was transferred to Special Collections in Performing Arts in August 2010.

Related Material

Rose Marie Grentzer papers, Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland.

The Recorded History of the UMD Madrigal Singers online exhibition, Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland. Curated by Vincent Novara and Alice Rogers, with help from Cindy Zhao.

Processing Information

Originally processed in 1974, the collection was re-organized in 1997. Duplicates were discarded. Paper clips and metal fasteners were removed and replaced with plastic clips. The materials were placed in acid-free folders and reboxed in acid-free boxes. Photographs and memorabilia were separated and moved to their respective storage locations within the department. Lastly, the guide was enhanced and reformatted. The collection was reorganized in 2010 to incorporate newly acquired materials. Similar processes were applied at that time, with the exception of plastic clips, which were removed.

Madrigal Singers records
Originally processed, October 1974; edited by Patricia J. Rettig, April 1997; re-processed by Amanda Koss May, October 2010 (Ms. May's work supported by the Rose Marie Grentzer Fund)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2020-05-06: Added series/descriptions of recordings from Digital Collections; cross-referenced inventory with online exhibition and linked exhibition to finding aid; Rachel Ruisard, May 2020

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States