Wednesday, June 29, 2011

DA CAPO -- Stairwell Caroller History -- Genesis of a Committee -- NOTEable Mention

Singing at the NAC, Dec 16, 1986 -- Mike is second from left beside Pete, then it's me and Dawn
When we started this choir, back in the '70's and '80's, the group was small -- about 10 members -- and most administrative tasks were split between Pete and Mike Ouellette. Mike was great at writing letters and took on that huge responsibility.  The choir archives are full of correspondence from every venue and organization that requested the choir to perform. Mike organized performances from those at churches and community centers to our appearances at the tree lighting ceremonies on Parliament Hill.

Michael was really our first unofficial treasurer, but as he wore so many hats, and there was no steering committee yet, he had no official title.

A much younger Me and Dawn in 1977
Mike and his wife Dawn -- a life-long friend -- were both in the choir for many years.

In fact, Dawn is the one who named the group!  Even back in University, his entrepreneurial style was developing and now Mike is a scientist who works at the National Research Council and Dawn and Mike together run a working farm and sell poultry in the spring that they raise themselves.

Holly ;)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BEHIND THE SONG -- Proposed Cover and track list for first Stairwell Caroller Sacred CD, Cantate Domino

Cantate Domino (400th anniversary of death of Hans Leo Hassler)  
-- to be recorded Spring 2012

1) Exultate justi in Domino - viadana
2) Misere-Lotti
3) Alleluja – Purcell
4) Ave Maria - da vittoria
5) Regina Coeli - Aichinger
6) Adoramus te - Palestrina
7) Deo Gratias - Byrd
8) Missa Secunda - Hassler
9) Vexilla regis - Irribaren
10) Alleluia - Palestrina
11) Crucifixus - lotti
12) Jubilate Deo - Lassus
13) Jesu dulci - Vittoria
14) O vos omnes - Vittoria
15) Pater Noster – Handl
16) Missa Brevis - Lotti
17) Gloria in Excelsis Deo - Goudimel
18) Ave Maria - anonymous
19) O Jesu Christe - Berchem
20) Cantate Domino – Hassler

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stairwell Caroller AUDITIONS -- Basses and Sopranos please email us NOW to book ahead!

The Stairwell Carollers in 2004 -- remembering old friends
As happens occasionally, one or two of our staunch Stairwellers may have to say goodbye and pursue their musical fortunes elsewhere.

We plan to record our first Sacred music CD, "Cantate Domino" in the spring of 2012, and to do that with the same level of quality and balance we must have the correct compliment of voices in each section.

For this reason, we will be holding auditions  on Wednesday. August 24 from 5:30pm till 8pm, as well as before our AGM on Wednesday. August 31 from 5pm till 6:30pm. We are looking primarily for Basses and Sopranos, but keep tuned to the Blog to see if the need for your special voice (be it suited to the Alto or Tenor section) arises.

Please email Andrea at  to book your audition.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

After-Concert Gleanings and Thankyous -- St. Barnabas excellent choice for Spring

St. Barnabas on James Street Ottawa

Stained glass at St. Barnabas

The concert was wonderful. The audience was warm and receptive, and the St Barnabas representatives were very helpful and told us they were impressed with both our  music and our organization. We awarded two $1000 scholarships to talented music students and donated $2000 to the V.O.N. for their long history of wonderful work in Ottawa.

Tom Barnes recorded the concert and Pete will post some video on our YouTube channel for those who could not be there.

Jose Roy our MC congratulates our Scholarship winners
Thanks to Jose Roy for being the best MC on the planet. Her warmth, wisdom and wit are in perfect balance with an impeccable bilingual delivery.
John and Diana tapin' it DOWN
Thanks to our Tech crew, and our new Wrangler, Diana -- who made sure we kept out of Pete's hair (pun intended) and got everyone where they were supposed to be with "signs, signs everywhere are signs"

Useful signage
Nicole, Rex and Diane busy laying out the eats
Thankyou, Nicole  for organizing the food and thanks to everyone who brought yummies for the reception after.
Thanks to Susan again for bringing the risers and the "sandwich board" sign.

Thanks to Andrea for all the posters, brochures and flyer printing, and everyone who helped distribute them.

Thanks to my lovely husband, Pete, our Director, without whom there would be NO Stairwell Carollers and my life would be soooo different, I can't (and don't want to ) imagine.

In conclusion...
St. Barnabas has wonderful acoustics, amazing history and artifacts, but is deceptively small. It was just the right size for an intimate spring Concert, but would not fit half of our usual numbers we get at a Christmas concert. So, on with the search! Committee meeting and then summer hiatus. 

Don't worry though -- no blog slowdown -- I have masses of entries in draft  and a podcast or two coming up.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Final Stairwell Caroller Spring 2011 Concert this Saturday, June 18

Don't miss us! Final Concert of the 2011 Spring Season this Saturday

Saturday June 18th

St Barnabas' Church, 70 James Street, Ottawa, 7:30pm, (613) 232-6992
Tickets can be purchased at the door for $15, children 12 and under free 
 also available at
Leading Note, 370 Elgin St., Suite No. 2
Compact Music, 785 1/2 Bank Street.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A beautiful church for a wonderful Mass -- and our Spring 2011 Group Photo

The father welcomed us to his church with a warm smile

It was a wonderful afternoon at St Joseph's in Gatineau.

We had a full congregation for the Mass and they were very enthusiastic about our performance. Our program is here 

My favourite part is always the Mass itself. I love the music that Hassler wrote and know it by heart. It's very meditative to sing while the priest is preparing the offering.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

BEHIND THE SONG -- Preparations to sing an entire Mass

Stained Glass window at St. Joseph's

Below is the program for this Sunday June 12th  Mass that we will be singing at  Cathédrale Saint-Joseph,  245 Blvd Saint-Joseph, Gatineau

You may find it interesting to see how early we arrive for a "show" (generally one and a half to two hours before depending on whether we've sung in the venue before.)
Sunday June 12th
245 Blvd Saint-Joseph, Gatineau
14:00 Call time for Choir members. 
All are expected to arrive with proper black attire and music binders organized and ready. The half-hour time before practice begins is usually needed to unravel the unexpected. 

(For instance, two of the Stairwellers live in Orleans and for last Wednesdays concert,with the wild storms that swept through Ottawa, we were fortunate they could attend.)

14:30 Practice (finish at 15:15 approx.) 
After dumping our bags and wardrobe in a practice room, we head up to the church so that Pierre can assess the acoustics and arrange us where we will perform. Every performance space is different and he shuffles us around to get the best sound balance and to make sure we look good :) A Stairwellers height often is a major concern in placement -- us short girls always get to be in front.We then go back to the practice space  and start with a warm-up. Pierre runs us through pieces that he believes are most challenging and the final step is to do the few beginning bars of each piece. this serves to fine-tune our beginnings and get our heads in the game, so to speak.
And, at last, time for last minute bathroom breaks and wardrobe malfunctions to be fixed.
15:35 We take our positions in the church.  
Depending on the Priest's wishes, we either enter after the people are seated, or are already seated in place before they arrive.
15:40 Start singing! 
We usually  sit between songs to bring the focus back to the service. The priest cues us to start each piece at the appropriate times

Before the Mass
C2    Ave Maris Stella,  verses 1 et 2  -   Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
B4   Miserere  -   Antonio Lotti (1667-1740)
F2   O vos omnes  -   Vittoria (1540-1608)
G4   Pater noster   -  Jacob Handl (1550-1591)

The Mass
Entrée:  G3   Regina Coeli   -  Gregor Aichinger (1564-1628)
Kyrie:    D1   Missa Secunda – Kyrie  -  Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)
Gloria:    H2   Gloria-Fanfare   -  Martin Shaw
Psaume:  B2   Adoramus te   -  Palestrina (v.1514-1590)
Acclamation avant l’Évangile:   A2   Alleluja   -  Purcell (1659-1572)
Offertoire:  C2   Ave Maris Stella,  versets 3 et 4   -  Claudio Monteverdi
Sanctus et Benedictus:  D2, D3   Missa Secunda – Sanctus & Benedictus -  Hans Leo Hassler
Doxologie (après le “En lui, avec  toi, etc. et avant le Notre Père): H4   Amen   -  Newbury
Agnus Dei:   D4   Missa Secunda – Agnus Dei -  Hans Leo Hassler
Communion : Pendant la communion   E3   Gloria in excelsis   -  Claude Goudimel (v. 1520-1572)
Après la communion (Action de grâces):   B1  Deo gratias   -   William Byrd (1540-1623)
Sortie: G2   Cantate Domino   -  Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)

After the Mass
Pierre will decide whether we will sing an additional piece and which one it will be (we always have a one of two encore pieces waiting in the last section of our binders).

Holly ;)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Two Ottawa area students win prestigious music prize

For the love of music: -- The Stairwell Caroller Scholarship
Pierre leading the warm-up -- this is "Mi"
For Immediate Release

(Ottawa) What do a University of Ottawa singer, a Concordia guitarist and a McGill tuba player all have in common?

They are all past winners of the Stairwell Carollers’ Scholarship, given annually to students pursuing music studies at a Canadian university who demonstrate a very special love of music.

“This year’s winners – flutist Dahlia Al-Khafajy and clarinettist Nicolas Galuban – were so talented, we had to give each of them the same $1,000 scholarship!” smiles Pierre Massie, the choir’s director since its founding in the stairwells of the University of Ottawa in 1977.  

“Previously we’ve had winners from centrally located high schools such as Canterbury, De La Salle, and Ashbury College,” he notes. “This year, we’ve ringed both sides of the city, as Dahlia attends Béatrice-Desloges Secondary School in Orléans, while Nicolas is from Earl of March in Kanata.”

These two young musicians will receive their awards on June 18, at the Stairwell Carollers’ gala spring concert at St. Barnabas Church, 70 James St. (at Kent).

This concert, titled O Vos Omnes (“O all ye who pass by, pay attention and see”), is in honour of the hauntingly beautiful Renaissance motet by Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria, whose death 400 years ago is commemorated this year. The audience will also have the pleasure of hearing the Carollers’ a cappella renditions of Italian and Elizabethan madrigals, French chansons and a Latin Mass by German composer Hans Leo Hassler.

The Stairwell Carollers, recognized provincially and nationally for their singing excellence, are very proud of their philanthropic initiatives. They raise funds through concert ticket sales, their cookbook, and profits from their 6 CDs. In addition to the $9,500 granted in music scholarships to date, the choir has contributed over $43,000 to a wide variety of local charities. This includes an upcoming $2,000 gift to the VON in Ottawa, to be donated at the June 18 concert.
Amore Musica!

NB: The June 18 concert starts at 7:30pm. Tickets are available in advance from The Leading Note (370 Elgin St.), and at the door, for $15 (admission is free for children 12 and under). A reception will follow.

 David Rain, Tenor

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

FREE Concert at The National Gallery's Rideau Chapel this Sunday June 5th

Stairwell Caroller concert spring 2010 Rideau Chapel
Anyone interested in attending our Spring concert at the National Gallery this Sunday, June 5th at 3:00 pm should know that the concert is FREE.

Advertised as free with Gallery admission, we just found out that, on Sunday, the Gallery is having a special "Doors Open Ottawa" day for the NGC (National Gallery Collections)  

Therefore, our concert, being within the collection in the Rideau Chapel, is a free entry.

We will be doing a special selection of religious pieces in keeping with the chapel's atmosphere and a surprise encore piece, as well.

The National Gallery of Canada 380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa
Hope to see you there!

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