Saturday, September 29, 2012

Un flambeau Jeanette, Isabelle -- Pierre Massie arrangement sung by The Stairwell Carollers

Un Flambeau

                                              Ottawa choir, The Stairwell Carollers, perform "Un flambeau Jeanette, Isabelle".  

Our 100th upload is a  16th century carol -- arranged by our director, Pierre Massie.  Videotaped at our Stille Nacht concert at St. Columba Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Dec 17th, 2011.

Audio: Tom Barnes - live concert recording.
Videographer: Andrew Mason. 
Editing: Pierre Massie

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An a cappella group, The Stairwell Carollers were started in 1977 by Pierre and is ranked amongst the best of Ottawa choirs by choral critics. 

Genevieve and Michel sell CDs at a concert
A non-profit organization, we raise funds for local charities through concert, CD and cookbook sales. 

This version of "Un flambeau Jeanette, Isabelle" will be available on our next Christmas CD -- to be released October 2015. 

Buy our CDs and help charities reach their goals!!!  


Pre-order our new CD, CANTATE DOMINO - a selection of Renaissance Sacred choral pieces.
Cantate Domino is dedicated to the memory of Paul Churchill, Tenor, whose voice and heart will be forever remembered.

Cantate Domino will be pressed in October -- if you live in the Ottawa area, you can purchase our CDs directly from choir members. 

You can also buy them at Ottawa area stores, online, or at our live concerts.

Visit our blog or our website  for updates. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Recording a CD -- Cantate Domino -- Part 5 - Solo

Morgan prepares for his solo
  Wednesday night, May 23rd, was very upbeat. 
Helen loves her new phone

Pete and Susan strategize
                  A regular choir practice night, we were all long-trained to be ready to sing until 9:00 pm and this night proved no different. We were well on schedule, in fact, so much so most of the choir left a bit early, while a few of us stayed to watch Morgan record his solo.      
One of the many works of art at St Barnabus
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Adam's shirt message seemed appropriate.

Still in high school, but mature in his musical discipline for his age, Morgan nailed the solo in just a few takes.

Extremely focused yet relaxed, Morgan watches Jay for his cue to start





You can pre-order CANTATE DOMINO HERE


 
Cantate Domino is dedicated to the memory of Paul Churchill, Tenor, whose voice and heart will be forever remembered.

Cantate Domino will be pressed in October -- if you live in the Ottawa area, you can purchase our CDs directly from choir members. 

You can also buy them at Ottawa area stores, online, or at our live concerts.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

In The Bleak MidWinter -- Rossetti / H. Darke - performed by The Stairwell Carollers

Finch in winter storm - photo copyright Holly Massie, all rights reserved
               Ottawa a cappella choir, sings "In The Bleak MidWinter " - words: Christina Rossetti (1872),  arr.:Pierre Massie of a Harold Darke setting (1909). 



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The Stairwell Carollers, formed in 1977 by director Pierre Massie, has earned the distinction of being ranked amongst the best of Ottawa choirs by choral critics. They are a non-profit organization, and raise funds for local charities through concert, CD and cookbook sales.

This version of "In The Bleak MidWinter" will be available on our next Christmas CD -- to be released  October 2015.

Buy our CDs and help local charities reach their goals!

Visit our blog
or our website for updates.

Audio: Tom Barnes.  Recorded at St. Columba Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Dec 17th, 2011.
Videographer: Andrew Mason.
Editing: Pierre Massie

Sunday, September 16, 2012

DA CAPO -- Stairwell Caroller History -- CFMO FM, Gord Atkinson and a vinyl record in aid of Ronald McDonald House !

Record album cover Christmas with the Stairwell Carollers
Dawn, Pete, Mike, Simon, Donald, Liz,
Holly, Diane, Denyse and Marjorie
pose in front of the fireplace at Ottawa's Ronald McDonald House
        On the eve of our 7th CD, Cantate Domino, I want to go back and take a fond look at our very first recording on vinyl. In 1986 we made an album for CFMO FM, "Christmas with the Stairwell Carollers", which made over $53,000 for Ronald MacDonald House and inspired our charitable mandate.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

One Christmas, in the late 70's, our tiny group of 10, as yet unnamed, carollers took a bus to the Bayshore shopping center to do some strolling and caroling.  In those days, there was no need to inform malls or ask permission, and we did not collect money, so we were usually just encouraged and welcomed by everyone who happened to be there.  
Stairwell Carollers singing in Rideau Center overpass
Singing in the overpass at Rideau center when there was still a good echo to be had
Gord Atkinson, one of the most famous radio celebrities for the FM Oldies radio show on CFMO was also there, heading up the Xmas Exchange Broadcast, a charitable event that raised funds to help needy families at Christmas.
Gord's wife, who was shopping at the same time, heard us and told him that there was a caroling group there in the mall perfect for the broadcast.  He called us over during a break and asked us what we called our little group.

How embarrassing -- we HAD no name.

After an awkward moment or two, one of our altos and my long-time friend, Dawn, piped up -- "The Stairwell Carollers" and that was it -- our name forever cast in radio history, as Gord introduced us for the first time ever over the airwaves. I can't remember what carols we sang, but Gord claimed us as his own discovery (right up there with Rich Little) and it was a bit of a whirlwind from there.
Stairwell Carollers sing for the 1989 Xmas exchange broadcast
Gord Atkinson introduces us on live radio on the 1989 Xmas Exchange Broadcast
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With Gord Atkinson as our DJ mentor, we were on the radio quite a bit over the years, and became acquainted with other other radio personalities. Of course, we sang for  every Christmas exchange broadcast for many years to come.

CFMO had already produced a vinyl recording of carols to benefit local charity, and Gord suggested they produce a recording of the Stairwell Carollers to benefit Ronald McDonald House at CHEO, Ottawa.



 It's amusing to see where the album still turns up on the 'Net. Amazon, Ebay and other venders usually have a couple available. Here is the Google search if you want to try to get one. I personally still have two copies, but one is warped. I believe they only did one large pressing.




For those who are not aware, The House provides a comfortable home-type environment  that can house entire families for a nominal fee per night (free if they cannot afford it) who want to stay near their critically ill children while they receive treatment at Cheo.  
McDonald's funded the original construction of the Ronald McDonald Houses, but aside from the occasional fund-raising campaign, do not pay for any of the upkeep.
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You can pre-order CANTATE DOMINO HERE

Cantate Domino is dedicated to the memory of Paul Churchill, Tenor, whose voice and heart will be forever remembered.

Cantate Domino will be pressed in October -- if you live in the Ottawa area, you can purchase our CDs directly from choir members. 

You can also buy them at Ottawa area stores, online, or at our live concerts.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Recording a CD -- Cantate Domino -- Part 4 - The Rhythm of the Night

Jay Fee recording engineer keeps an ear on us
                        Recording in the evening was a stroke of genius. 
Our second session Wednesday, May 16 started at 6:30 and ran till 9:30. On the following Saturday -- May 19 , we pulled out all the stops and sang from 5:00pm to 1:00 am.

No more rain, no more steady afternoon traffic -- now all we had to deal with was keeping the energy up as the evening wore on.

Being a night person with a biological clock that resets every weekend despite my up before the dawn weekdays, I was still perky at 10:00 pm.

At 10:01, however, all the standing in one place started to get tough and a coffee break would have done wonders.


No time to run down to Bridgehead at that point, so instead, I alternated falling asleep standing up and giggling at nothing.
Altos and Sopranos take a break

oh.. and singing.
ready to record
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Thank goodness we could take  occasional (quiet!) breaks when Jason and Pete had to listen to each complete take. 

Pete grabs a healthy bite
Felicia and Rene compare notes





Some took powernaps, some relaxed with tea and a chat -- everyone was so at ease with each other. 
Josee and Paul pose for a sweet pic

And, despite the lateness, everyone snapped to attention as Pete and Jay signaled each song "in the bag".
Martha stretches out

Just that accomplishment gave us the extra burst to continue. 


Like eating an elephant 
-- ONE. BITE. AT. A. TIME. 







No elephant was injured  during this recording. 


























You can order CANTATE DOMINO HERE









Jump ahead to.. Part 5 - Solo

Cantate Domino is dedicated to the memory of Paul Churchill, Tenor, whose voice and heart will be forever remembered.

Cantate Domino will be pressed in October -- if you live in the Ottawa area, you can purchase our CDs directly from choir members. 

You can also buy them at Ottawa area stores, online, or at our live concerts.


 Recording a CD -- part 1   part 2  part 3

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Recording a CD - Cantate Domino Part 3 - the singers prepare...

Emotions are high and giddiness ensues
             Yes.. at this point we were a bit giddy. 
 Not halfway there yet -- but we had a PLAN. 

The following guide was drafted by our director, Pete, who sent the PDF to us the week before we started recording. 

We now know how true, how true! Now, I will turn this post over to Pete --

HOW-TO prepare for

a SUCCESSFUL recording session...

FOOD & DRINK
Josee and Diane during a break.
 
• Bring lots of liquid, water, tea, whatever works for you.


• Watch out for thermos type containers with pressure release mechanisms. We had arecording delayed for quite some time trying to find out what the heck was making thatweird popping sound.
Jay foils the ticking clock by removing the battery

• Bring munchies


• Bring your dinner with you if we are recording over a dinner hour. It is hard to sing on a full tummy, so best to make wise food choices.


• Leaving during the dinner break to go home and eat or to pick something up is not suggested. I would ask that all of you bring your food with you. Leaving the recording session can introduce a whole new host of problems and delays. Let’s all stick together throughout please. No problem going outside to get some air or to unwind, but no extended excursions.

David arriving carrying light poles and Josee helping


VERY IMPORTANT: We have a couple members who have anaphylactic reactions to sunflower seeds or oil, and all nuts. Please avoid these in the foods that you bring with
you.

 



WHAT TO WEAR
• Dress comfortably but also watch for the kind of clothing you wear. Some clothing makes noise when you move.


• Wear comfy footwear; preferably something that won't contribute to the audio track ofthe recording. Squeaky shoes for instance.

• Bring change of clothing to maximize comfort. Sweater to warm up or t-shirt, shorts, to cool down.


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• Do not use any perfumes or scents.


• Be careful of creams you use on your skin, shampoo, hair gels or any other makeup
products. Almost 90% of the ones claiming to be scent free are not. Your nose will
reveal the truth about these. I also have a tough time with newsprint so please avoid

bring newspapers and local rags to read.

YOUR MUSIC AND YOUR VOICE

• Bring lozenges if that helps you. Whatever makes your voices work better do it.
Adam grabs some winks

• Get lots of rest before the recording. Arriving tired will affect intonation and pitch. You have to have lots of energy when you're doing this sort of thing.


• Prepare your music to minimize page turns.


• Know your pieces well. I direct the pieces during the recording so you have to watch me as well as your music.


• Warm up your voice prior to start time.


BEHAVIOUR & RECORDING PROTOCOLS
 
• Keep a positive attitude throughout. Positivism is infectious. Negativism is more infectious.

All smiles even after hours and hours...

• If you're beginning to feel negative, don't share. The recording can be a very long process and you may spend an hour on just one section of a piece. This can easily lead to a negative attitude and that negativism is much more infectious than positivism.


• To start a song we first sing the first note to get the pitch right. The engineer gives us the ok, and we start. When we stop, it is important to count to 5 before moving or speaking or breathing, especially in a church like St-Barnabas where the echo will ring quite a while after we’ve stopped.


Our director gives us the first note
• If you make a mistake while recording or mispronounce a word, do not stop. If it’s
something really obvious, more than likely I’ll catch it and stop the recording. If i don’t
stop it’s still very important that you mention the error immediately after the take, so I can check the recording in case we need to redo.


Jay Fee, sound recording engineer extraordinaire


• Our engineer has a pretty keen ear and will listen for external problems or noises that may influence the recording. He may indicate for us to stop and redo a take as well.


Pete (from the actual notes given to choir members)


You can pre-order CANTATE DOMINO HERE



Cantate Domino is dedicated to the memory of Paul Churchill, Tenor, whose voice and heart will be forever remembered.


Cantate Domino will be pressed in October -- if you live in the Ottawa area, you can purchase our CDs directly from choir members. 

You can also buy them at Ottawa area stores, online, or at our live concerts.

 Recording a CD -- part 1  part 2 

Oooo skip ahead - part 3  part 4   part 5  part 6

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ottawa choir, The Stairwell Carollers, perform the lively Christmas carol "Wassail Song"

The Stairwell Carollers on Sparks Street, Christmas, 1979


            Ottawa choir, The Stairwell Carollers, perform the lively Christmas carol "Wassail Song" - arranged by our choral director, Pierre Massie.

This version of "Wassail Song" will be available on our next Christmas CD to be released on October 2015.

Audio: Tom Barnes.  Recorded at St. Columba Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Dec 17th, 2011.
Videographer: Andrew Mason.
Editing: Pierre Massie

Formed in 1977 by director Pierre Massie, The Stairwell Carollers acappella choral group is ranked amongst the best of Canadian choirs by choral critics across the country.

A non-profit organization, our choir raises funds for local charities through concert, CD and cookbook sales.

Our CDs make great Christmas gifts and help charities reach their goals. A gift that gives twice!

Visit
Our blog and Our website  for updates.



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Listen to excerpts from the Stairwell Carollers BRAND NEW CD -- CANTATE DOMINO

Stairwell Carollers "Cantate Domino" 2012  CD cover -- final
                       Enjoy these preview cuts from our new sacred Renaissance choral CD, Cantate Domino.

Cantate Domino is dedicated to the memory of Paul Churchill, Tenor, whose voice and heart will be forever remembered.

Cantate Domino will be pressed in October -- if you live in the Ottawa area, you can purchase our CDs personally from choir members. 

You can also buy them online at local venues or at our live concerts.

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