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Dickens Dinner

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This annual musical event was initiated by Andrew Harper, chair of the Division of Music, in 1968. The event was inspired by the Indiana University Madrigal Dinners and used Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol as a setting for an evening of entertainment. The format was a fruit punch served from a wassail bowl with small groups of costumed singers serenading the guests. It was followed by choral and instrumental selections mixed with readings from Dickens' works. Proceeds from the sale were used for merit scholarships for music students. The first dinner was held on December 6-7, 1968. Three of the University Singers appearing were Jose Contreras, Jane Tagtmeyer and Mike Trulock. The event was directed by a master of ceremonies known as the Master of the House. David P. Onwood was the first such Master. Jeff Gibson handled the role in 1977 and 1978 and Larry Bower from 1979 until 1984. In 1981 the title was changed to Lord of the Manor and Michael Hayden assumed the role in 1985, and Joseph K. Meyers took over until the event was discontinued in the early nineties. From 1968 until 1973 the dinners were held at the Fort Wayne Women's Club located at 402 W. Wayne St. In 1973 the Walb Memorial Union became the site. Between 1968 and 1970 the Division of Music hosted "Tiny Tim Snacks," which was a mini version of the Dickens Dinner performed for the benefit of students in Kettler Hall where cookies and punch were served. The performances went on the road during several years doing a benefit performance at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana. The tradition was dropped in the early nineties as a result of shifting priorities, financial and personnel constraints.
Sources: Current (November 1988), 23-24; Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (12/14/68)

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