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Being a Madrigal feels magical for Lincoln-Way East senior

Kayley Smetansenior her Madrigal costume Lincoln-Way East High School Frankfort.  |  Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media

Kayley Smetana, a senior, in her Madrigal costume at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media

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Updated: January 11, 2013 6:01AM



Kayley Smetana is appearing in one of the holiday season’s most eagerly anticipated musicals.

The Lincoln-Way East High School senior is a member of the Madrigals, the school’s elite choral ensemble that performs Renaissance-period holiday music throughout the community.

Smetana, 17, said she is merely following in the footsteps of her older brother, Ryan, 18, now a student at the University of Illinois. He was a Madrigal while at Lincoln-Way East.

“When I first saw him perform in costume, I said, ‘I want to do that when I’m in high school,’ ” Smetana said.

Not only did she fulfill that desire, she carried her musical talent to many more levels.

Smetana started singing in kindergarten, then took a break after third grade until middle school. Despite the interruption, she said, “Music has always been a part of my life. A free way to express yourself, and you can express any emotion with music.”

As a freshman at Lincoln-Way East, Smetana auditioned for the Madrigals and made it. As a sophomore, she auditioned for and made the grade for the ensemble, “Ladies.” This year, she is a member of the jazz choir, Blue Revue, Troubadours and the Singers, which is a top-level ensemble for boys and girls. Smetana also is the pitch-piper for the latter.

Audiences in the Lincoln-Way area flock to see the Madrigals perform as part of their annual holiday tradition. Many may not realize the hours of preparation that go into the performances or that students are working on holiday music as early as July to be ready for their seasonal performances.

This summer, while new choir director Matthew Granger was getting acclimated to Lincoln-Way East, Smetana stepped up and took on a leadership role in Madrigals.

“I love everything about Madrigals,” she said. “The people and the music and the traditions that have grown throughout the past year ... I love the holidays and the holiday music, festivities, the performances. And all the things we do get me in the mood for the holidays.”

Smetana said music will always be a part of her life. Next year, she plans to take the first step to ensure that it is. She would like to attend the University of Illinois or Illinois State University and pursue a degree in music education.

Her goal is to become a chorale director for a high school — just like Alysia Lambert, the choir director at Lincoln-Way East last year.

“She was the one who inspired me to want to go into music education for a career, and she always taught us to be a good person and be the best musician we could be and treat everyone with respect,” Smetana said. “Mrs. Lambert just really inspired me, and I can’t imagine a profession that didn’t have anything to do with music. I like teaching people how to do things, and combining those two would be ideal.”

Smetana also is a senior class representative for student council and is vice president of the executive board. This year, she is joining Best Buddies, a program for kids with physical and mental disabilities.

“You meet and hang out and go to activities with them. I just always loved spending time with those kids, and one of my friend’s little sister has Down syndrome and they just brighten my day. I want to be more involved,” Smetana said.

She said her parents, Mark and Karen Smetana, of New Lenox, keep her focused.

“My parents always try to keep me on track to prioritize my list of things to do, and with all of my work and my music, (it) helps me stay on track and keep busy and do all my work,” she said.

Madrigal Dinners are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7 and 8, with seating beginning at 6 p.m. A matinee also is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Dec. 8. If tickets are still available, order forms can be found by visiting lwemusic.org.

Free Madrigals performances can be seen at several local venues this week: Mr. Benny’s restaurant (a toy drive ensemble), at 19200 Everett Lane, Mokena, at 7:15 p.m. Dec. 10; the Mokena Public Library, 11327 W. 195th St., at 6:15 p.m. Dec. 11; and the First United Methodist Church, 215 Linden Drive, Frankfort, at 9 a.m. Dec. 16.



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