Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Amor Vittorioso - an Italian Madrigal -- Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi -- sung by The Stairwell Carollers, Ottawa.

Bleeding heart and bee from our backyard

Ottawa choir, The Stairwell Carollers, perform "Amor Vittorioso"by Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (1554 -- 1609), an Italian composer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods.

Recorded at St. Barnabas Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 18th, 2011.

Audio: Tom Barnes.
Videographer: Zoe Hart.

Monday, August 29, 2011 -- LIVE Classical concert streaming broadcast

This is a very cool website I ran across. They broadcast LIVE Classical concerts in real time. There is a subscription fee, but for REAL lovers of classical music this looks like the best access online.

You may need to refresh the page if it flips to their subscription window.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Adoramus te - Palestrina - Sacred music performance by The Stairwell Carollers, Ottawa.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stairwell Carollers 2011 Christmas Carol Concerts -- Gatineau and Ottawa

Stairwell Carollers in concert at St. Columba, Ottawa
Here it is -- Live from our official concert listing page. The Stairwell Carollers 2011 Christmas Concert Season.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Associated Press: Facebook's spam program catches activists

Stairwell Carollers (we are not spammers) Rank First Place in Ontario (we are human beings)
I've included two articles here. Thanks go to Brian Fisher for finding this :)


We're in good company -- I've been getting the same message while I was just casually promoting the choir on Facebook I'm waiting for my apology and fear it may take a while.

Oddly, I am only occasionally blocked from posting to a wall. It's like the algorithm that has fingered us as "spammy" can't quite decide...
Perhaps there is hope yet.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

CHOIR HOW-TO -- Costume -- Part Four: Period Wear -- Medieval/Renaissance to Victorian Era

Period wear at Rideau Hall
Pierre and Holly at Rideau Hall, 1901 -- uh, I mean, 2001
Who doesn't love to dress up? Lots of people, I guess. Luckily I jump at the chance to wear costume. At least I used to. When I was ... younger. Anyway, this post features one-shot costumes. All period pieces -- all for specific occasions.

Doing costume for theater productions at Ottawa U taught me some invaluable tips and shortcuts.

1. If it can't be seen it doesn't matter. Always have safety pins (for sudden costume malfunctions), petroleum jelly (for shining shoes, slicking hair etc) and duct tape (for hems and edges) on hand.

2. For Period costume -- I always teach my Drama students to look at the Silhouette of each period. The web page below from the National Arts Centre explains this better than I could here.

3. Do some research! Here's the link for a great page. They have tons of info -- and are master costumers.

4.Dig through available closets and jewellery boxes -- use your imagination before you spend money.
Medieval dressup at the National Arts Center
In Renaissance-inspired costume rented for a song from OLT From Left -- Pierre, Mike, Dawn, Me, Diane, Marjorie, Denyse, Donald and Simon
At Dow's lake for the Tulip Festival. Handmaiden to Queen Denyse
We were on Regional Contact so many times, and we usually wore our regular scarves and sweaters. But for one show, in 1993, we got to dress up in a range of outfits from Medieval to Victorian . Costumes again provided by Ottawa Little Theatre. The only difference was, I didn't have to drive down to OLT at King Edward Ave and Rideau Street to pick up the outfits myself.  Joel Haslam had the costumes there, all ready for us to try, when we arrived at the Billings Estate to start filming.

In 2001 we were invited to sing at the Governor General's skating party at Rideau Hall. FUN! Costume fun, anyway...but that little bit of local gossip will have to wait. We're focusing on COSTUME here. Focus.

The men wore OLT's tail tuxedos and we girls raided our wardrobes, my schools costume cupboard and local thrift shops. I reminded the girls that "VICTORIAN" means COVERED from top of the head to the toes. Cinched waists, High necks, ruffles, bustles and gloves maintained the proper silhouette for the Victorian Era. "Good enough for Jazz", as my dad used to say.
Victorian wear at the Rideau Hall skating party
More details on former Governor General Adrian Clarkson and the Rideau Hall skating party gig in a future post.

NEXT... Part 5 our now-famous Christmas CLOAKS become reality thanks to a wonderful Vogue pattern!

The Choir Costume series links :)

Choir Costume Part 1 - what NOT to wear?
Choir Costume Part 2 - Gowns or Gownless Evening Straps?
Choir Costume Part 3 - Girls in Tails
Choir Costume Part 4 - Period Wear -- Medieval/Renaissance to Victorian Era
Choir Costume Part 5 - Cloaks are all the Vogue
Choir Costume Part 6 - Spring Pastels to Basic Black

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

CHOIR HOW-TO -- Costume -- Part Three: Dressing the Choir, Girls in Tails

Tuxedos and Tails - so classy!!
On and into the late 90's, where we depended on the generosity of Ottawa Little Theatre, and Costume Mistress, Sue McKinley, for tailed tuxedos. Well-cared for, basically antique, tuxedos.We looked fabulous -- and very festive, as well as formal.

Another confession -- I always wanted to dress in "Tux 'n Tails", and these were authentic! Once a theater person, always a theater person.

I still own a tickle trunk.

The venture was inexpensive as well -- me and my shoe-string budget brain again.

$10 rental per  tuxedo -- and we returned them to OLT unlaundered (they always handled costume cleaning)

$10 per red bow tie (purchased)

$20 per tux shirt -- I measured each singer and picked up the shirts at a local menswear store(they reimbursed me).

The Carollers supplied their own black shoes and socks/nylons -- and I was a bit more strict on the footwear to keep the formal and uniform look

Everyone was very good about the total cost per outfit and we wore the tuxes for 1997 Xmas and for the 1997 - 2001 Spring seasons. New members only had to buy the tux shirt -- and we made sure to choose a classic style that was still available from year to year.

We got so many complements! As I thought, many people liked the fact that the ladies wore the same suit as the men and how flattering they were.

However, some of the choir members were not as thrilled as I -- they squirmed under the tight collars, and perspired under the wool on stage. I've always believed one has to suffer for their art, but even I can't get my way forever, and we shifted to new ideas. Who said a change is a as good as a rest? I mourned the loss of our tuxes, but, unbeknownst to me, we were moving toward our costume destiny.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CHOIR HOW-TO -- The Choir Secretary -- NOTEable Mention -- Andrea Walton, the Magnificent

Andrea, on her cell, getting everyone where they should be for A CBC radio spot
Andrea Walton, soprano, and my dear friend, has been the most efficient and exhaustive secretary any organization could have.  I prefer to think of her as administrative manager because she handles so many of the administrative tasks necessary to the smooth running of our choir machine.

From the recording of the Minutes and clarifying Action Items at each Steering Committee meeting to taking attendance at each rehearsal, Andrea does dozens of tasks in between. I've touched on some major ones in this post.
A Steering Committee meeting can last all afternoon. Andrea helps focus the team while she records the Minutes.
As any good manager knows, clear and regular communication is key to an efficient operation.   She supplies each choir member with a regularly updated phone and email list of the membership in both xls and pdf formats.

Before the Fall season starts we do auditions. Sorry, ANDREA takes all the calls, sets up and organizes the audition nights.

We just show up.

For many years, at the beginning of each season, Andrea gave each choir member a package that she had organized the reproduction and collation of. The package includes the sheet music, an up to date phone and email list, the season's song list and rehearsal dates, and info sheets on Stairwell Caroller performance, costume and commitment requirements (attendance and preparation). Quite the document! Now, the choir members go to a special link on our website and download and print their own.

Database and email queen that she is, Andrea was the first to have a signature promoting the choir on all her emails. Most of us now have adopted that simple yet effective promotional device. She further created and manages the email database of the "Friends of the Stairwell Carollers" -- our Newsletter fan list. When concert time nears, Andrea shows up to rehearsal with programs and posters, flyers and tickets, all printed and collated into individual packets to help each choir member promote the concert and maximize ticket sales. We each get an envelope with 10 tickets and simply  return the envelope with money and any unsold (never!) tickets to Susan, our Treasurer.

A CD door prize results in names for our mailing list
After the concert, Andrea can't wait to gather up the new names for the Newsletter database.

Outside CD tray Proof for our Madrigal  CD, Audite Nova

CD production has been largely in Andrea's hands, whether finding the right company for the graphic design or circulating the proofs to the Steering Committee to ferret out typos or correct colour choices.

Recently, Andrea took on Events Coordination. This involves everything from communicating with and meeting church or venue representatives and confirming event details, to investigating new venues and opportunities for appearances. Suggestions are now handed over to her.

Listening attentively to our Director, Andrea is as meticulous in her vocal work as she is with her paperwork

In every task that Andrea has taken on, she has performed above and beyond what was asked, and is always available by email or phone. She completes everything in record time, making the choir run smoothly and efficiently. Pierre, our director, praises her commitment and passion for this huge responsibility, that, for years now, she has borne  with a winning smile.

Every choir NEEDS an Andrea Walton, but, sorry, we got her and she's worth a million to us.

Maybe two million..

Monday, August 1, 2011

Exultate justi in Domino by Lodovico Grossi da Viadana - sung by The Stairwell Carollers, Ottawa.

St. Charles Church, Ottawa

Ottawa choir, The Stairwell Carollers, perform "Exultate justi in Domino" by Lodovico Grossi da Viadana (1560 -- 1627). He was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance.

St-Charles Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 8th, 2001.

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