a madison tradition

The Wisconsin Union Tudor Dinner Holiday Concerts

Together, the Philharmonic Chorus of Madison and the Wisconsin Union put on an annual series of holiday dinner concerts, known as the Tudor Dinners.

We present to you fine dining, old English pageantry, and choral presentations in the ambiance of the Great Hall.

Attend the Tudor Holiday Dinner Concerts and be a part of the warmth, fellowship and history that defines the Wisconsin Union.

View the gallery from this year’s performances.


A brief history of the Tudor Holiday Dinner Concerts

In 1972, the first year The Philharmonic Chorus of Madison performed the Tudor Dinner Concerts, alto Marie Ellingson prepared a history of the Tudor programs by beginning with the following text written by Mrs. Raymond Dvorak and printed in a 1967 Tudor Singers dinner program:


The Tudor Singers were organized in October of 1933 as a social group singing for fun. Eight students in the University of Wisconsin School of Music led by Florence Hunt (Mrs. Raymond Dvorak) and Katharine Lee (Mrs. Edward Schantz) asked the late Professor Edgar B. Gordon to be their leader. The name Tudor Singers was chosen because they wanted to sing madrigals of the Tudor period. The original intention of the group was not to give public performances, but they were persuaded to sing a Christmas program at the University Club and a week later at the Wisconsin Union in December, 1933.

Since that time, the group has annually presented the Tudor Dinner Concert in December as well as concerts of non-seasonal repertoire throughout the year. Professor Gordon was the beloved director until 1959 when Professor J. Russell Paxton took over the leadership. In 1962 the Tudor Singers became a student group as a School of Music course for credit. Since 1965 when Professor Paxton retired, their director has been Mr. Vance George. Under Mr. George’s direction the group has performed Chamber Music from all periods. This year the Tudor Singers for the first time recreate the atmosphere of a banquet in Tudor England with the addition of period costumes through the generous cooperation of Wisconsin Players.

The spirit, imagination, love of music, and performances of Tudor Singers 1967 is a continuum of Tudor Singers of 1933.

Marie Ellingson continues by saying that after Vance George departed from Madison, the 1971 Tudor Dinners were under the direction of Mr. Lawrence Roebler, choral conductor of the School of Music staff.

In 1972 Professor Samuel M. Jones directed The Philharmonic Chorus of Madison at Tudors; the Chorus performed only four nights, using a 'platoon' system of singers. In 1973 the event was called the Tudor Holiday Dinner Concert (sic) and the Chorus performed six nights. The holiday occasion became known as the Tudor Holiday Dinner Concerts in 1977. In 1979 the Chorus was performing seven nights, in 1981 with Monday night breaks. Professor Jones led the Philharmonic through the Tudor Dinners of 1994, after which he retired as director.

In 1995 Dr. Patrick Gorman became the director of The Philharmonic Chorus of Madison and has continued the performances at the Wisconsin Union Tudor Holiday Dinner Concerts to the present.