Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sharing the Gift of Song

Choir performing at the National Gallery of Canada (photo credit: Farris-Manning Photography)
(Originally published in Intersection, the internal employee newsletter of Employment and Social Development Canada, on Wednesday Nov 12, 2014)                          
Find out how Martha Patterson, a manager in ESDC's Learning Branch and Stairwell Carollers choir member, has found a way to give back to the community through music.

Many would say that music can warm the heart and feed the soul. The same could be said about charitable giving. The Stairwell Carollers, an award-winning Ottawa choir, have found a way to combine the two by donating net proceeds from their concert ticket and album sales to local charities. 

The power of song

“I'm so fortunate to have found a way to give back to the community by doing something I love,” says choir member Martha Patterson, a manager in the Learning Branch. To date, the Stairwell Carollers have raised over $66,000 (UPDATE: now over $117,000! ) for organizations in the Ottawa–Gatineau area, and for the choir's post-secondary music scholarship program.

For Martha, who has been singing in choirs for most of her life, joining the Stairwell Carollers has been deeply satisfying. “The feeling you get from being part of such a beautiful sound is amazing. And knowing that all of our hard work is benefitting the community just makes it all the more special.”
Martha Patterson singing in a rehearsal

Since joining the group four years ago (now seven), Martha has participated in the choir's first-place finish at the Ontario Music Festival Association competition, recorded an album of sacred music and performed at the National Gallery of Canada. (“The acoustics in there are incredible,” she notes.)

Originally founded in 1977 by a small group of students carolling in the stairwells of the residences at the University of Ottawa, the Stairwell Carollers are known for their beautiful renditions of Christmas carols of all styles and eras. The choir performs entirely a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment) and in the style of chamber music ensembles (without a conductor standing in front of the group).

Learning opportunities

Like ESDC, the Stairwell Carollers strives to be a “learning organization.” Director Pierre Massie, a life‑long music educator, has made it his special mission to bring in talented high school and university students to enrich the choir’s sound and to advance the students’ musical education. These students join voices with the other singers, including some of the group’s original founding members, to form a truly multigenerational ensemble. The Stairwell Carollers is also a fully bilingual choir, aiming to perform equally well in both English and French.

The Stairwell Carollers will be performing in various venues in the Ottawa–Gatineau region through most of December.

About The Stairwell Carollers:

Pierre Massie started our a cappella choir in 1977 while a music student at Ottawa University. The Stairwell Carollers are ranked with the best of Ontario choirs, winning both the 2010 and 2013 Ontario Music Festival Association competitions. 

A registered Canadian charity, we help local charities with our concert, CD and cookbook sales.

Please DONATE to for our 40th year events! 
All Donations receive a charitable receipt.

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

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