Saturday, May 28, 2011

2011 Charitable Donations and Scholarship winners -- Announced!

The Stairwell Carollers at Xmas
The Stairwell Carollers, an Ottawa Choir quite unlike any Other

by David Rain, Tenor

Single file, they stride purposefully up the deep stairwell and gingerly place themselves across the narrow church steps, resplendent in their hand-made green and red Christmas cloaks.  An enthusiastic round of applause erupts as a goateed gentleman with heavy black shoes follows them into view and bows humbly in acknowledgement.

He deftly pulls out a shiny tuning fork and with a wide grin strikes it solidly across his right temple.  “Do, sol, mi, do”, he chants to the others, as he steps back to join them in line.  Then, with a subtle lifting of his left eyebrow, the group responds as if one and the joyous strains of “Oh Come, all ye Faithful” are heard ringing through the pews, much to the delight of the gathered throng.
Pierre giving our notes

'Tis a scene repeated time and again each Christmas by what used to be one of Ottawa’s best kept secrets: the 25-voice Stairwell Carollers.

This choir is quite unlike any other. From their very humble beginnings in the stairwells of the University of Ottawa, this tiny group of singers has grown to become one of Ottawa’s premier a cappella choirs, with five Christmas CDs and one Renaissance madrigal CD professionally-produced this past decade.

Their Director, Pierre Massie

Their dynamic founder and director, Pierre Massie, a man of many hats, leads the choir.  For over 20 years, his day job has been music teacher with the Ottawa Carleton School Board, and he is currently Head of Fine Arts at Glebe Collegiate High School.  He has also found time to indulge his passion of leading the Stairwell Carollers since their inception in 1977.
Pete at Cumberland church in the '80's

Pierre is renowned for his unusual style of conducting from within the tenor section itself.  He uses everything imaginable within his reach -- his eyebrows and his eyes, his head, his music book, his nose, his ears, and even his teeth!

Musical Excellence: Provincial and National Recognition

Pierre is also an award-winning composer, twice having won first prize in the prestigious Toronto Amadeus Choir “Christmas Carol and Chanukah Song Writing Competition.”

Pierre, at left,  directs the choir from within

In addition, in the spring of 2010 Pierre led the Stairwell Carollers to receive both provincial and national recognition for their artistic excellence.  They placed First in the Ontario Music Festivals Association choral competition and Second in the National finals, competing with choirs from across Canada.

A Choir with a Difference: Giving Back to the Community

The Stairwell Carollers are not just about music, however.  Right from the get-go, they have been a true community choir in the best sense of the word; and their community has been a vast one indeed.

In addition to the hundreds of concerts performed in the Ottawa-Gatineau area itself, the choir ventures far afield each year, singing in small towns across the Ottawa Valley.  Places like Cumberland, Carp, Pakenham, Almonte, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place, Ripon, Shawville, Merrickville, and Alexandria.  Like the proverbial mailman, neither sleet, nor snow, nor freezing rain can prevent this group of dedicated singers from reaching their distant destinations and audiences.

At a little church in Quebec

Many of these same performances have been benefit concerts for churches or local charities.  This has been an important theme of the choir’s from the outset, and has included singing for convalescing patients in area hospitals and cheering up the less fortunate at soup kitchens.

A Choir with a Difference: Fulfilling a Charitable Mission

The Stairwell Carollers are a registered charity, with a philanthropic mission.  They are an energetic and enterprising group indeed, raising funds for their community through concert ticket sales, an anniversary cookbook and profits from their 6 CDs.

From these proceeds, they have made donations totalling $43,500 to a wide variety of deserving charities in the Ottawa and Gatineau area.  This includes a $2,000 donation to the VON in Ottawa -- to be announced at their upcoming June 18, 2011 concert.

First Place in Ontario 2010 OMFA
A Choir with a Difference: Planting Seeds for the Next Generation

Since 2004, The Stairwell Carollers have established an annual award, the Stairwell Carollers  Scholarship; given annually to a talented Ottawa-Gatineau area high school student who is seeking to pursue post-secondary music studies at a Canadian university.

To date, the choir has awarded the Stairwell Carollers Scholarship to nine gifted graduates – singers, guitarists, tuba players, and composers – each of whom has demonstrated a very special love of music.  They represent a wide range of local high schools, including Nepean, John McCrae, Canterbury, De La Salle, and Ashbury College.

This year's two recipients will each receive $1,000 at the choir’s June 18, 2011 concert, bringing the total awarded to $9,500!


The Stairwell Carollers have brought joy to thousands of Ottawa area music lovers, they’ve given a real boost to many deserving local charities, and they’ve helped inspire and motivate the next generation of Canadian musicians.  They’ve been singing the song of philanthropy for 34 years now, and provide a unique musical perspective to charitable giving in the nation’s capital.

Stairwell Carollers Charitable Donations

Ottawa Civic Hospital, Breast Cancer Unit-----------May 12, 1998                     
Ronald MacDonald House------------------------------September 30, 1998      
Shepherds of Good Hope------------------------------- September 30, 1998      
Bruce House----------------------------------------------September 30, 1998      
Gamma Knife Foundation------------------------------ December 14, 1998         
Cornerstone le Pillier------------------------------------May 23, 2001                 
Shepherds of Good Hope------------------------------- May 23, 2001                 
Multiple Sclerosis Society------------------------------May 23, 2001                  
Ottawa Chapter (Autism Society On.)------- March 3, 2004                
Le chapitre francophone d’Ottawa de la
 Société de l’autisme de l’Ontario ---------------------March 3, 2004               
Le Gîte Ami----------------------------------------------- March 17, 2004            
Élisabeth-Bruyère Health Centre----------------------November 16, 2005     
La maison Mathieu-Fromont-Savoie-----------------May 26, 2007                 
Trait d’Union Outaouais, Inc.------------------------- May 26, 2007                  
Abbeyfield Houses Society of Ottawa---------------- December 15, 2007     
Immigrant Women Services Ottawa------------------December 15, 2007      
Bruce House----------------------------------------------December 20, 2008      
Dépanneur Sylvestre -----------------------------------December 18, 2009       
Ottawa Mission ----------------------------------------- December 18, 2009       
Shepherds of Good Hope------------------------------ June 5, 2010                     
Alzheimer Society of Ottawa & Renfrew County---June 5, 2010                     
Harvest House Ministries------------------------------December 18, 2010      
VON Ottawa-Carleton ----------------------------------June 18, 2011                  


Stairwell Carollers Scholarship

Selina Mcdonell, John McCrae HS--------------------July 4, 2004                  
Corey Payette, Canterbury--------------------------- August 31, 2005           
Genevieve Colletta, De La Salle---------------------- July 22, 2006                 
Corey Arnold, of Ashbury College----------------------2007                    
not awarded
Andrew Burn, Canterbury-----------------------------August 27, 2008           
Geoffrey McNeely, Nepean----------------------------August 27, 2008              
Adel Kerkadi, De La Salle------------------------------October 7, 2009           
Gabrielle Porter----------------------------------------  September 15, 2010   
Celina Hawkins, Canterbury -------------------------- September 8, 2010       
Dahlia Al-Khafajy, Béatrice-Desloges (Orléans)----June 18, 2011              
Nicolas Galuban, Earl of March (Kanata)------------June 18, 2011               


1 comment :

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You can also email your questions to me - info (at) stairwellcarollers (dot) com.
Holly :)

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