Monday, March 4, 2013

The Stairwell Interviews -- René Voyer, bass -- and Steering Committee President

René, bass, with his sister Huguette, soprano -- also with the Stairwell Carollers
The Stairwell Interviews: René Voyer 

Here, in 
(mostly)his own words,
 is the tale of René's journey into the Stairwell.
2007 -- singing in an Ottawa U residence stairwell
"I did not choose choral music. I am addicted to it! My family is at fault. They exposed me to choir singing when I was a small child."

 "My parents both sang in the church choir -- and the children, we had to stay in the church after the mass, while they were rehearsing. Soprano, alto, tenor and bass, was already known at an early age. "

"My grandparents, uncles and aunts all sang and played musical instruments at family reunions, so, as a child, I thought everybody had to learn to sing and play."

"My three sisters and I sang together in four-part harmony while doing the dishes and it has been the tradition to sing together when we meet, still today."

"I have sung many styles and forms, but, for me the small a cappella group is the ultimate choir experience. It requires: discipline, control, independence and humility to blend, assurance and courage to attack when it is needed -- without relying on others --  listening for subtle changes of mood created dynamically by the choir, staying on the right pitch."
Rene at left, carolling in Byward Market 2011

"All these things make a cappella singing more demanding and so rewarding when it is achieved. The small choir is nimble, and can express better feelings and moods than the big choir with orchestra. "

"I also like working closely with the musical director. It is a great learning process that I never experienced in larger choirs."

"I first saw/heard the Stairwell Carollers in a Kiwanis competition. My jaw dropped. They were too good. One evening, at a Xmas concert in 2004, Keith announced that the choir was looking for a bass 2 (low bass). I decided to try -- quite prepared to be turned down. "

Obviously, he was not turned down -- his audition blew us away and René has been a bass 2 ever since. 
At the National Gallery of Canada, Rene stands tall

with the Stairwell Carollers, 
René has
sung --
inside the Parliament Buildings, 
at a funeral,  
in a mall, 
while walking,  
for an audience of less than 5 people,  
for a packed house,  
on YouTube on the Stairwell Caroller channel,  
in a fast-food establishment and in a bar,
“Happy Birthday” to a random stranger in a bar,
and, of course, in almost every Stairwell Caroller concert and appearance since he joined in 2005.

René also has some astute observations about our director, Pierre -- and some heartfelt wishes also.

"Pierre is a very competent and capable musician and pedagog. He is so generous with us -- and in return, all choir members want to do their best, and more, to please him and get an "I love you guys!" at the end of a song!" I feel extremely privileged to be one of his "disciples".

Pierre directs the basses
Now, I can't move to another city because of him!"

"This choir is a jewel in the National Capital Region and it is most likely unique -- in the sense that Pierre is both founder and  director. He puts everything into it. Most other choirs seen to have hired directors who are there for a short while and then go. 

Pierre Massie
That makes a big difference. This is Pierre's choir and we need to support him as much as we can to keep him going -- to relieve him from the many worries and tasks related to the logistics of the choir and keep him motivated, inspired and satisfied for many years to come. I also wish that he will find more time to dedicate himself to composition."

*René  did not mention his important contribution to the choir as a long-standing member of the steering committee, in recent years bearing the mantle of President. A future blog post will detail the responsibilities and duties of this post. He also did not mention the guidance he has given The PR committee -- always reminding us that we are a bilingual group with audience on both sides of the Ottawa river.

Thanks for everything you have done for Les Chanteurs Stairwell, René ! à bientôt! 

You can hear  René's deep bass voice on our new CD, Cantate Domino.

Order Cantate Domino Here  

Listen to excerpts of  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.

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.


  1. Thanks for this great interview René! I love the image of you and your sisters singing while doing the dishes.

  2. I think these interviews are going to be a smash!


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

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