Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pierre Massie wins prestigious Ottawa-Carleton District School Board "Arts Recognition Award"

Pete with his Glebe Offbeat group at Winterlude 2010
Exciting News!

The director and founder of the Stairwell Carollers, Pierre Massie, has been chosen as the recipient of the OCDSB (Ottawa-Carleton District School Board)  Arts Recognition Award for Secondary Integrated Arts for 2010-2011.

An excerpt of the email Mr. Jim Mcnabb, chair of the Awards Committee, sent Pete the other day informing him of his win is below.

Dear Pierre Massie.
It is with great pleasure that the Advisory Committee on the Arts of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board announces that you are the recipient of the Arts Recognition Award for Secondary Integrated Arts for 2010-2011. Your nomination from Principal Pat Kulka was assessed in relation to other applications and was deemed by the Committee to be very worthy of this award. Your enthusiasm and long hours of hard work as the Arts Department Head and a Music teacher inspiring your students and your fellow Arts teachers have been outstanding for years. Your mentorship of the strong Visual Arts and Drama programmes, along with your wonderful instruction in the Music Department which creates the highly appreciated Music Nights, inspires all those around you at Glebe Collegiate Institute. Most remarkable is your unique OFFBEAT group which integrates a variety of arts to produce an amazing rhythm ensemble. Your passion for the arts has enriched all your students immeasurably. Please accept our heartiest congratulations.

Jim McNabb, Chair, Awards Committee ACA
Michael Wilson, Judy Kirsh, Co-Chairs, Advisory Committee on the Arts
Cc Pat Kulka, Principal, Glebe Collegiate Institute
Greg Wysynski, Instructional Coach: The Arts, OCDSB

Congratulations from all the Stairwell Carollers Pete, on this achievement. You've worked long and hard to earn the recognition it represents.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Le chant des oyseaux -- Clément Janequin - The Stairwell Carollers, Ottawa.

Purple Martin -- spring 2011, Gillies Lake boardwalk, Timmins, On

Ottawa choir, The Stairwell Carollers, perform "Le chant des oyseaux"  by Clément Janequin (c. 1485 -- 1558) a French composer of the Renaissance. He was one of the most famous composers of popular chansons of the entire Renaissance.

Audio: Tom Barnes.  Recorded at St. Barnabas Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 18th, 2011.
Stills: Holly Massie
Videographer: Zoe Hart.
Editing: Pierre Massie

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Place your Ad in our 2011 concert playbill - all season for one price. Book for 2012 now .

Sponsorship opportunity for corporations and small business owners.

It's that time again  for  companies to reserve their ads in the Stairwell Carollers concert playbill.  Any company or organization, anyone wanting to promote an event or celebration, is more than welcome to buy space in the concert booklet. 
UPDATE: 2011 offer now closed -- pre-book your ad for 2012 NOW.  

Many of the ads we have had in the past were local Beechwood area businesses, but any business in the city could benefit from placing an ad.  We perform in a variety of locations throughout Ottawa and we use the same playbill for all our concerts, so any business that does put in an ad will have it viewed by attendees at every performance location.

At left is our new 2011 Xmas season Playbill cover. The cover is printed in colour on glossy stock and the interior is printed in black and white. 
The size is 5 1/2" x 4 1/4" (folded 8 1/2"x 11"). 
Ads are mixed through the playbill with the concert info to encourage a good view of our sponsors ads.
Ad Prices
Business Card ad = $100
Half-page ad = $150
Full-page ad = $250
Example Page

Last year's ads
Campbell Douglas Keyboards - 1547 Merivale Road
Clocktower Pub, 575 Bank Street
CD warehouse
Books on Beechwood
Christopher Wheeler Heating & Cooling
Great Books Great Gifts Ottawa U Book Store
Lester's Barber Shop - 13 Beechwood
Fraser Café - 7 Springfields at Beechwood
New Edinburgh Pub
Hampton Wellness Centre - 1419 Carling

Charitable Contribution 

If you would like to make a tax deductible contribution to the choir in someones memory, or have a Christmas message placed, you can either supply your own artwork which we will scan or we can do it for you. Please describe the look you would like (font, type of clip art) as best you can, with the proper wording for your message, and Holly will design it accordingly.

We have room to double the number of ads in our booklet this year.   

Please contact us at to book your ad 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sept 2011 issue of CAMMAC Ottawa-Gatineau newsletter is out

The Stairwell Carollers 2011 group photo

For all us Canadian amateur musicians out there, the CAMMAC (Canadian Amateur Musicians/Musiciens Amateur du Canada) Ottawa-Gatineau newsletter has just come out.

Through the magic of embedded webpage code, I have included it below. Since it is a multi-page pdf, you may have to wait a moment for it to download. Be patient -- it will appear -- like magic!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Missa secunda, Hans Leo Hassler -- performed by The Stairwell Carollers, Ottawa

Side aisle detail in St. Barnabas Anglican church, Ottawa

Ottawa choir, The Stairwell Carollers, perform "Missa secunda" by Hans Leo Hassler (1564 - 1612), a German composer and organist of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras.

Audio: Tom Barnes. Recorded at St. Barnabas Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 18th, 2011.
Stills: Holly Massie
Videographer: Zoe Hart.
Editing: Pierre Massie

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ave Maris Stella - Claudio Monteverdi - The Stairwell Carollers, Ottawa.

St. Barnabas Anglican church, Ottawa

Ottawa choir, The Stairwell Carollers, perform "Ave Maris Stella" by Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi (1567 - 1643) an Italian composer, gambist (a player of the viola da gamba), and singer.

Audio: Tom Barnes. Recorded at St. Barnabas Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 18th, 2011.
Videographer : Zoe Hart.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Miserere -- Antonio Lotti - by The Stairwell Carollers, Ottawa.

St Barnabas -- gorgeous pews and arches

Ottawa choir, The Stairwell Carollers, perform "Miserere" composed by Antonio Lotti (ca. 1667 - 5 January 1740), an Italian composer of the Renaissance.  Camera: Zoe Hart.  Audio: Tom Barnes.  Recorded at St. Barnabas Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 18th, 2011.

Friday, September 2, 2011

CHOIR HOW-TO -- Costume -- Part Five: Cloaks are all the Vogue

Caroling in capes in the Byward Market, 1997

One sunny Saturday afternoon in December, 1997, we were booked to carol while strolling through the Byward Market (here in downtown Ottawa.) The market administration supplied one-size fits all fleece capes (deep grey-green with attached red scarves) for us to wear, in keeping with their Caroling in the Market theme. The whole choir loved them because they were cozy, festive and surprisingly clean (Holly, the clean freak, always appreciates clean costumes.)

Being a natural ripoff artist, and knowing many of the choir members were fed up with the tuxedos, I searched pattern books for the same look.

Wouldn't you know, Vogue had the perfect pattern.
The Vogue pattern -- no longer available -- naturally, I still have it


Since I was sewing them myself, I wanted them to "fit" the current members of the choir. I took arm length measurements and measurements from the neck to the back of  the knees. Some cloaks had to be shorter in length or arms, some longer.With these adjustments, the women's cloaks were made according to the original pattern. For the men, I added a back center panel .  This fulfilled the need for necessary extra shoulder width and arm length without compromising the overall shape of the cloak. Once again, my experience with costume held up -- I am comfortable adapting and even combining patterns if necessary to get the look I want.

Now I had the tools to judge how much fabric to buy.


Running down to my favourite fabric stores, Bouclair (now defunct) and Fabricland, I searched through the materials looking for the right weight and drape. Working with costumes in theater taught me that any costume has to look right under lights and must move the way you want. I had the winter cape image in my mind and finally settled on fleece. Available in almost any colour (since it was all the rage in 1998) I found the perfect Christmas green and red.
Fleece yet to become choir Cloaks
I wish I had a photo of my ancient Honda Civic filled above the headrests with fleece. I needed a whole bolt of green and about eight meters of red. It was a challenge to drive it home, since Pete had fleece filling his rear-view mirror, I navigated.


Red buttons -- a challenge to get enough of all the same button. I fear I will never find the exact button again if I need replacements!

Matching thread --  So important! Buy the BEST quality you can afford and match it to the fabric exactly in natural light right there in the store.
Red acrylic Yarn --Easy care is important if you want to add details. You don't want the item to come out of the wash with dye running or material shrinkage!
Red wool for edging

I laid the fleece out on the dining-room table to cut, and found I could do no more than two layers at a time due to the thickness of the fleece. Luckily the paper pattern stayed put and I had no need to pin it, avoiding damage to the delicate tissue pattern. After all, I had to make over twenty-five cloaks . (am I nuts, or what?)


Fleece doesn't need to be hemmed, but, to strengthen the edges, I did a single line of stitches 1/3 of an inch all round -- on the scarves too.


A bright red button on both sides holds the cloak halves together without inhibiting the drape of the fabric.
Cloak button -- and edge stitch
I LOVE Vogue design!

Stairwell Carollers ready for... carolling!
The cloaks are not "slimming", so I decided to do a large blanket stitch by hand down the front edge of each cloak with a matching red acrylic yarn to create some vertical interest. The result seemed to "finish" the look nicely.
 hand-lettered Stairwell Carollers on attached scarf of choir cloak

I finished the scarves with a hand-written "Stairwell Caroller" logo on each using liquid writer gel. I designed a sample and then worked each one referring to the sample. A bit nerve-wracking, considering this was the finishing touch to each cloak and if I messed up, I would have to replace the whole scarf.

I also used the writing gel to scribe each person's name in their cloak for convenience. Now that so many people have come and gone, the names are assigned to new people according to fit. One of those choir members has since passed on -- and his name is in a way memorialized in the cloak.

 No, I didn't mess up. On the scarves anyway. I can't  tell you how many times I had to pick pattern pieces apart because I sewed them together backwards or upside down! Assembly line production can be hypnotizing at times and Pete had to literally drag me away from the machine for meals when I really got going.

By the way...

Don't let anyone tell you that you need a fancy sewing machine to do make beautiful items.
Best sewing machine on the planet --  the 221 Singer Featherweight
I used my old Singer 221 Featherweight electric for everything. I acquired this machine from a secondhand store while at Ottawa University and Pete has helped me keep it working ever since.  I have sewn wedding dresses (my own and Dawn's,) and all the bridesmaid dresses for both weddings. I've sewn costumes, promotional flags, you name it, but those are other stories... for a different Blog :) That I haven't created... yet. (Collective sigh of relief)

In the end, I had enough fabric left to make some children's cloaks for a special concert. Yes, I also made a few extra adult cloaks before running out of fabric. I cross my fingers every season that I will get all cloaks back in one piece -- so far -- so good. This post better not jinx it.


The choir cloaks -- or as David Rain calls them , our "Cloaking Devices" have turned out to be both comfortable and versatile. Onstage, most of us wear a light weight shirt underneath and, since churches tend to be on the cold side, most of the singers find them cozy but not too warm. For an outdoor venue, such as Sparks street, the cloaks are perfect, protecting our throats -- important when singing out in the cold air!
Cozy in our cloaks, carolling on Sparks Street, Ottawa
Thirteen! years later, the cloaks still look new, and even with machine washing and drying at the end of each Christmas season. 
The Cloaks at nine years -- still looking great

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

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