Saturday, December 31, 2011

CD SPOTLIGHT -- Mourning Dove -- Christmas CD #3 -- Feb 3, 2003

CD cover Photo by Denyse Mageau, all rights reserved.

                     Icicles are both dangerous and beautiful, but no one could imagine that sparkling frozen water could stand in the way of a CD recording. Warning signs point to the icicles that form every year from St. Columba's roof line and 2003 saw a bumper crop of those watery daggers. We arrived at the church, Jay set up the sound equipment and the choir was all ready to start the first song. Jay heard a strange sound through his earphones, but we went ahead, all bundled in coats, hats and mitts in the chilly church (no heater on to avoid furnace creaks and groans). We recorded a few songs and then the sun warmed the roof -  the welcome rays through the windows helping us endure the icy room.

However, before we could continue, the melting icicles rang out an unwanted metronome beat  and we all ran outside to stare at the roof in order to come up with a solution.

Of course, someone had to go up and stop the dripping.

An old rug, a couple of brave Stairwellers scaling the roof and a lot of patience later, we managed to get a few more songs in -- drip drop free.

Mourning Dove CD liner notes

Mourning Dove CD song list and artist names

Mourning Dove CD tray back with song list
A selection of videos of pieces from the CD (concert performances)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hark the Herald Angels Sing and We Wish You a Merry Christmas -- The Stairwell Carollers

Relief of "Mary and Child" at S. Barnabas Church, Ottawa

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "We Wish you A Merry Christmas" (an exclusive arrangement for The Stairwell Carollers by Sir David Willcocks) are performed by The Stairwell Carollers and the alumni on Dec 15, 2007 at their "30 Years of Song" concert.  The Stairwell Carollers are an a cappella Ottawa choir, formed in 1977 by director Pierre Massie. A non-profit organization, they raise funds for local charities through concert, CD and cookbook sales.

Buy our CDs!!! These versions of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing & We Wish you A Merry Xmas" are available on our "Qui creavit celum" and our "I Saw a Swete Semly Syght"CDs respectively.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Les Anges dans nos campagnes - Traditional -- The Stairwell Carollers, 30th Anniversary Concert

Rehearsing the Stairwell Caroller Alumni for the 30th concert
"Les Anges dans nos campagnes" performed by The Stairwell Carollers -- joined by Stairwell Caroller alumni on Dec 15, 2007 at their "30 Years of Song" concert.

The video begins with Jose Roy and Joel Haslam calling up the "ex" Stairwellers to sing the finale with the current group. They also join in, as both were Stairwell Carollers at one time:)



The Stairwell Carollers are an a cappella Ottawa choir, formed in 1977 by director Pierre Massie. A non-profit organization, they raise funds for local charities through concert, CD and cookbook sales.



Your Ottawa Region article -- "Choir group gives back to the community"

Pierre, "What song do do you guys want to sing now?"
Kristy Wallace wrote a very nice article on us, embedded below, based on a phone conversation she grabbed with me between concerts and caroling.
Thanks, Kristy!



Friday, December 23, 2011

CD SPOTLIGHT -- Noel Nouvelet - French Canadian Carols

CD cover Photo by Denyse Mageau, all rights reserved.
In 2005, we released Noel Nouvelet, our French Carol compilation, after many requests from our French Canadian listeners. Many of our French audience remarked that a good recording of French Canadian Carols did not exist! Noel Nouvelet includes all our French Canadian carols previously released on our other Christmas carol CDs -- all on one CD in this rare collection.
From another cd recording session, Jay Fee and Pete dissect the sound

Read the CD Review by Valérie Lessard of Le Droit 






Noel Nouvelet CD back with song list

Noel Nouvelet CD insert interior with member names and song details
Choir Bio en Francais for Noel Nouvelet CD
A selection of pieces from the Noel Nouvelet CD...

A social network Christmas -- two youtube videos


Two versions of the Nativity from the view of social networking.
The first is serious, the second a bit tongue in cheek.
No worries, the humour is appropriate.
Enjoy! -- and Merry Christmas!


Christmas Traditions -- Caroling, Wassailing and Holly

Leah, soprano, from our 1993 Regional Contact episode for CTV
I did this originally as a guest-post on the Blog, "Keeping the Christms Spirit Alive, 365" -- another great blog by Natasha in Oz

Decking the halls with holly and wassailing all around the town...

Holly, Mistletoe and even our Christmas tree are most likely vestiges of a pagan heritage that some Christians would rather forget.To avoid persecution from the Romans, Christians adopted a number of the traditions usually practiced for Saturnalia. This helped them blend in with the pagans and avoid harassment for their christian faith.
Holly leaves and berries are often added to wreaths because of a folk tale dating back to the first century that said the crown of thorns was mixed with holly. John McCollister

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly

Though most of us now live in modern homes rather than great vaulted halls, we still (deck) decorate at Christmastime. with holly, wreaths, candy canes and ivy.

There is evidence that this old carol originated in Wales but the words are believed to be American. If you wonder why American lyrics would celebrate old English customs, the answer is simple. The lyrics were written in 19th century America when Mr.Washington Irving was glorifying English customs and Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" was at the height of its first popularity. 
Abridged text from the Readers Digest Merry Christmas Songbook


Christmas Caroling
 "It may seem strange to us today that carols were originally used for dancing, since to dance in church smaks of irreverence. ... The Franciscan Friars were particularly devoted to dancing, and it may be that they brought the carole and its associated dances to England in the early 13th century."
From The Book of Christmas Carols, Fairmount books, inc.

The earliest carols were plainchant hymns from the middle ages.Modern choirs prefer many voices, so these songs are rarely sung. Holy Songs, 1582, by J. M. Neale collected the best carols of the Medieval period. Through the centuries, hymns and songs of Christmas, originated throughout Europe, were in vigorous use until a sudden decline of interest in the 18th century. It was reversed with the new idea of a  "congregational hymn" encouraging multiple voice parts to lift the songs to exciting new heights.
From the New Oxford Book of Carols (easily the most exhaustive Christmas carol book on the planet!)

Wassailing from house to house, involved carrying a wooden bowl filled with spiced wine as a gift for the household.
Stairwell Carollers carrying a wassail bowl --That's me on the right. This is also from our 1993 Regional Contact episode
 SOMERSET WASSAIL


"Somerset Wassail" was performed live in concert by The Stairwell Carollers on Dec 18, 2009.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ultimate Dog Tease and Jinglebell Pets -- enjoy!! Merry Christmas :)

Laura's doggy, Casey -- photo copyright Holly Massie, all rights reserved
First, Pete made me watch the funniest video  
The viral vid of 2011 -- ULTIMATE DOG TEASE....




and then, we have PETS singing Jingle bells...
Christmas cheer doesn't get better than this!!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pinning and Singing on the weekend Pinterest Party -- Peace On Earth

Post created originally for 5 minutes just for Me, a spectacular blog by Natasha in Oz, who hails from Australia. This is a re post with her permission. Please visit her blog -- you won't be sorry:)

I'd like to thank Natasha for inviting me as a guest blogger for her Pinterest party -- Peace On Earth.

Being a part of a charitable choir, The Stairwell Carollers, whose focus from September to November is preparation for Our Xmas concert season gives me a special connection to our theme this week

PEACE ON EARTH

We spend a lot of time singing the words "peace on earth", but I want to challenge everyone out there to really stop for a moment and think about what those words mean.

Is it peace in your heart from your faith that you share with others as easily as you breath?


Is it the wind whispering through the trees and the leaves whispering back that they are forever one with life?


Is it the knowledge that the cost is so dear because Peace is worth the whole world?

Is it that the Earth's beauty is almost to much to bear?

Or that Love is the proof.

Or is it that you Love the world and the creatures that are in it?

Or is it simply in the eyes of a child?

And in the hands of the children.
Source: google.com via Deb on Pinterest

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rogers TV -- Christmas with the Stairwell Carollers -- on all this week on cable 22




 

Recorded live at our 2011 Woodroffe Church concert, "Stille Nacht",  this Rogers cable TV Special is an hour and a half of traditional and brand new Christmas carols to enjoy all this week on Ottawa's Rogers cable channel




Stairwell Carollers Christmas Special   

8:00 - 9:00 pm  Monday Dec 19th 

7:00-8:00 pm Wednesday Dec 21st 

3:00 -4:00 pm Friday Dec 23rd

1:00 2:00 am Christmas Eve

Eya, eya gaudeamus - Pierre Massie -- The Stairwell Carollers, 30th Anniversary Concert

Photo copyright Holly Massie, all rights reserved




Pierre Massie's award winning original composition "Eya, eya gaudeamus" placed first in the Amadeus Carol Competition in 2007.  This performance by The Stairwell Carollers took place on Dec 15, 2007 at their "30 Years of Song" concert. The Stairwell Carollers are an a cappella Ottawa choir, formed in 1977 by director Pierre Massie. A non-profit organization, they raise funds for local charities through concert, CD and cookbook sales.

Buy our CDs!!! This version of "Eya, eya gaudeamus" is available on our Laudemus cum armonia" CD.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

FINAL CHRISTMAS CAROL CONCERT THIS SATURDAY -- DON'T MISS US!

The Stairwell Carollers last Xmas concert of the 2011 season is this Saturday at St Columba Anglican Church, 24 Sandridge Rd, Ottawa.
 

Ottawa choir sings a charitable tune this Christmas
Women’s shelter to receive $2,000 gift

Each Christmas, you can hear them in churches throughout the Nation’s Capital, crafting their special a cappella gems for appreciative audiences on both sides of the Ottawa River.

They’re called the Stairwell Carollers and they’ve received both provincial and national recognition for their singing excellence – but the gifts these singers bring are not all packaged in purely musical wrapping paper.

Under the leadership of their award-winning director, Pierre Massie, this 28-member choir has transformed income from concert tickets and CD sales into $50,000 of donations to 20 local charities and 11 high school students going on for further studies in music.

This December, the Carollers are very pleased to announce that Harmony House – Ottawa’s only second-stage women’s shelter – has been selected as the 2011 recipient of our special $2,000 Christmas gift.

The choir recognizes the great service that Harmony House provides – offering safe, affordable transitional housing for women and children who are survivors of violence.

“We are so thankful for the support of the Stairwell Carollers”, says Harmony House Director Leighann Burns. “Their generosity will help us continue to assist women and children find freedom from violence.”

The Stairwell Carollers will make an official presentation of the gift to Harmony House as part of their annual Christmas Fundraising Concert, “Stille Nacht”, December 17, at St Columba Anglican Church, 24 Sandridge Rd (N end of St Laurent Blvd) at 7:30pm.

Tickets are $15: available at The Leading Note, 370 Elgin St, two Compact Music locations, 785½ Bank St and 190 Bank St, Books on Beechwood, 35 Beechwood Ave, and at the door.

To learn more about Harmony House, visit http://www.harmonyhousews.com/index.html.

 David Rain, Tenor
- 30 -

 PS

St. Columba has beautiful acoustics and, to date, we have recorded all our CDs there rather than in a sterile studio. The wooden interior provides a resonance ideal for live concerts and for recording.

We expect a full turn-out, and there is no reserve seating, so make sure you arrive early.

Doors open at 6:45pm and the concert will start at 7:30.

Hope to see you there!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mourning Dove - a Christmas carol by Pierre Massie -- Stairwell Carollers

Mourning Dove on our backyard deck


"Mourning Dove", an original Christmas carol written by Pierre Massie, performed by The Stairwell Carollers on Dec 15, 2007 at their "30 Years of Song" concert.

Listen for the call of the dove in the melody line.

The Stairwell Carollers are an a cappella Ottawa choir, formed in 1977 by director Pierre Massie. A non-profit organization, they raise funds for local charities through concert, CD and cookbook sales.

Buy our CDs!!! "Mourning Dove " is available on our "Mourning Dove" CD.

O Little Town of Bethlehem - Arr: Vaugh Williams --The Stairwell Carollers, 30th Anniversary Concert

Crèche



"O Little Town of Bethlehem" performed by The Stairwell Carollers on Dec 15, 2007 at their "30 Years of Song" concert. The Stairwell Carollers are an a cappella Ottawa choir, formed in 1977 by director Pierre Massie. A non-profit organization, they raise funds for local charities through concert, CD and cookbook sales.

Buy our CDs!!! This version of "O Little Town of Bethlehem " is available on our "Laudemus cum armonia" CD.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

CD SPOTLIGHT -- I Saw a Swete Semly Syght -- Well-loved Christmas carols

CD cover Photo by Denyse Mageau, all rights reserved.
Our second CD, "I saw a swete semly syght" (pronounced  EE SAW A SWAY-TUH  SAME-LEE SEEKT ) was recorded February, 2000 at St. Columba church -- here in Ottawa.

The title is in Old English and means " I saw a sweet and seemly sight". It is also the title track -- an original carol Pierre wrote in the summer of 1999. He went on to win First Place for this original composition in the Toronto Amadeus Choir's International Christmas Song Competition. The lovely carol premiered Dec. 5, 1999 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in Toronto ( now the Toronto Center for the Arts)and was broadcast nationally on CBC radio on Christmas day.

When the decision was made to record a second CD,"I saw a swete semly syght" seemed a perfect choice for the title track and started a trend. Each of our Christmas CDs to date are titled for one of Pierre's original carols.

Back cover of I saw a swete semly syght with list of Carols
Known as the "Purple CD" or just "I Saw" to choir members, sales were so good that we had to do a second pressing. Various theories abound, but I think it's the list of carols represented. There are so many old favourites on this CD, that if people buy only one CD, they often choose "I Saw."

Inside cover fold I credits  for "I saw a swete semly syght" CD


"I saw a swete semly syght" -- Song credits

Includes translations for  songs on "I saw a swete semly syght" CD
A few songs from "I saw a swete semly syght" CD  performed live in concert by The Stairwell Carollers



Ottawa Citizen article -- "Carollers to donate $2,000 to Harmony House"

From our first rehearsal -- Carols in September


The Ottawa Citizen has finally recognized that we are a force for good. Thanks guys!
I have to point out that this year is unusual, in that we would normally give up to three $2000 gifts. We are saving up to record our first Sacred CD in the new year, which would then raise money from and spread the joy of our music to an even wider audience.

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