Saturday, March 18, 2017

Solo Saturday - The Stairwell Interviews - Martha, alto 2

Martha stands left of our Director, Pete - after the Carillon Concert
This is a long time coming! I have so many Stairwell Interviews to catch up on - so look forward to getting to know your favourite Stairweller better.

No worries, I won't share who that is. What is said in the Stairwell, stays in the Stairwell.

Do I have favourites? I am only human, so... yes -- but I won't make a list here. Except, I have to admit, Martha's near the top! 

She not only sings alto 2 beautifully and has an A+ for attendance (forgive me, I was a teacher), she does layout for our fabulous Email Newsletter and sends it out. A natural fit since she also manages the mailing list database - Friends of the Stairwell Carollers. She is team leader for our concert MC's and writes many of the scripts used. She is also on the P.R. committee and does many online listings for concerts.

Much has changed since she answered my questions back in 2013, but the important things haven't. Thanks for all you do Martha!

My questions and comments are in RED.


1. I, _____________have been/was with the Stairwell Carollers for __________ seasons. I sing __alto 2_____ Is a "season" one year or one "semester"? I'm either in my 2nd or 4th season, depending on how you count it. (2 Christmas seasons and 2 spring seasons = 2 years).
Martha in 2011- in rehearsal for her first concerts with us

2. Some people play golf, throw pottery on a wheel, write Blogs -- why did you choose to sing?
I sing because I love it!! I have sung in choirs my whole life - school choirs, the Nepean Youth Choir, various Anglican Church choirs, and a women's choir when I lived in Finland. Every time I'm in a new place I try to seek out a choir. It's something I can immediately have in common with strangers, and helps me meet new people.

It's also a spiritual experience. The ancient words of scripture and the Christian liturgy have inspired composers for centuries. The sacred repertoire in particular touches my soul and connects me to the ongoing human conversation with the divine.
Windows at Knox Presbyterian, Ottawa
3. Why choral music? Why not Hip-hop or Opera? What is different about singing a cappella? Aside from the obvious -- that there is no piano or orchestra...

There's something special about singing in a choir, particularly an a cappella group - it is so much more than the sum of its parts. There is no relying on the accompaniment to get you through. All you have is your voice And that goose-bumpy feeling you get when it all works perfectly is what keeps us all coming back!

4. What brought you to the Stairwell Carollers?

I first heard the Stairwell Carollers when I received an album as a gift from my neighbour, former Stairweller Chris Burn. I liked both the sound and the repertoire. I knew the choir rehearsed just a few blocks from my house, so when I was looking for a new choral challenge, it seemed like a logical group to try. Good choice! (And I LOVE being able to walk to practice!)

Tech-savvy Martha sometimes opts for an iPad over a music binder
5. We’ve had a few interesting singing experiences – highlight yes or no to the following... then choose one (or two or twelve) and tell me more.

Be aware I only listed experiences that I’ve had, so feel free to add to this list – remember this is ONLY with the Carollers – not like, in your shower, um.. etc..

With the Stairwell Carollers,

I sang on a moving bus NO

I sang on Parliament Hill NO

I sang inside the Parliament Buildings NO 

I sang in pouring rain/freezing drizzle YES, in the Byward Market

I sang at an old age home/in a hospital corridor/at a funeral/at a wedding NO 

I sang with a raging fever NO

I sang while tears ran down my face NO

I sang live on radio YES!
Martha chats with Denyse and David before singing on CFRACFRA Christmas exchange broadcast from a local mall




I sang in a mall YES
Stairwell Carolling in the Rideau Center, 2011

I sang while walking YES
Crossing the street for a Byward Market caroling appearance


I sang for an audience of less than 5 people NO

I sang for a packed house YES
Another full house -- 2016, St. Stephen's, Chelsea

A drunk guy tried to dance with me/sang along/yelled in my ear/tried to convert me while I was singing Um, NO (You don't know how lucky you are)

I sang beside Santa - Does Paul in his Santa hat count? YES
Paul always added a cheery note to our events

I sang on TV/TV special/live TV YES
TV promo for 2015 concerts

I sang in a convent for a room full of nuns (sweet) NO

I sing on YouTube (-- on the Stairwell Caroller channel) YES -- Here's just one...
I sang in a fast-food establishment/bar YES, pretty sure some singing happened here...
End of year Choir pub get together 2013 - New Edinburgh Pub

I sang “Happy Birthday” to a random stranger in a bar MAYBE

Clearly I haven't been in the group long enough yet!! I look forward to expanding my list of bizarre choral experiences...

Well, I found a few - not bizarre, but unique...

Martha accompanies Andrea McCrady at a choir Christmas party

Helping out at the Stairwell Caroller stall - Manotick Farmers Market

Martha is in the front row -  Great Hall, Christmas at the National Gallery

6. Have you had a Stairwell Caroller “Ah-Ha” moment you can relate?

My "ah-ha" moment happened at my third practice. I hadn't taken the audition process very seriously, thinking I'd be fine given my previous choral experience. (Sorry Pete!) During my first two "trial" rehearsals, I had chatted with the woman next to me, another newbie going through the audition process. We were both enjoying the group and she seemed to be fitting in just fine. Then, at the third rehearsal, she was gone. I don't know if she didn't "make the cut", or if she just decided it wasn't for her, but that's when it hit me - it's a privilege to sing with this group, and it could just as easily have been me who didn't come back.

7. Sum up our director, Pete, in three words or less... or more...

I am constantly amazed by Pierre's command of pitch. He'll sing "this is what you just sang" (and you think, yeah, that's the right note - what's your point?) Then he'll raise the pitch just a fraction of a semitone and sing "but this is where you should be", and it's like the whole world gets brighter and feels lighter, just in that moment. It gets me every time!



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