Winter Wonderful History

Donald Oglesby joined the University of Miami choral faculty in 1977, coming from doctoral studies at Indiana University. Oglesby formed the Collegium Musicum that year, which became well-known for its annual Madrigal Dinners (now known as Winter Wonderful). At the time, participants made elaborate Renaissance costumes and banners. They made clips and also half-hour holiday shows for local television stations, including WTVJ Channel 4 and Classical South Florida. Alan Corbet featured the Collegium on his show on Classical South Florida. These events featured music from the Madrigal Dinners.

The first of the Madrigal dinners started at the University of Miami’s cafeteria. To create ambiance, everyone pitched in to get the room decorated. The event had some Renaissance dances as well as choral singing. In addition, Arnold Grayson [adjunct professor at UM] developed and led the school’s early music instrumental ensemble. He was well known nationally for his work with early music.

A few years later, the Madrigal dinners were moved to a medieval-themed restaurant, in which the name is lost to history. Soon after, the dinners were moved to the Biltmore Hotel, where it stayed for a number of years.

In 1993, Jo Micheal Scheibe, the director of choral studies at the time, expanded the concept to include all the UM choirs and changed the name to Holiday Dinners.

Under Dean Shelton Berg’s leadership beginning in 2007, the Holiday Dinner was renamed to Winter Wonderful. The event became larger with more instrumentalists joining the choral ensembles. Since 2010, Winter Wonderful had taken place at the JW Marriott Marquis in Downtown Miami. Currently, it is going through some restructuring due to COVID-19.