Monday, September 23, 2013

So ben mi ch'ha bon tempo -- Orazio Vecchi - The Stairwell Carollers, Ottawa

Pierre calls out the door prize winner after the concert

One of my absolute favourite madrigals (I seem to have a lot of those) is "So ben mi ch'ha bon tempo" by Orazio Vecchi (1550 --  1605), an Italian composer of the late Renaissance. 

I guess it's because it's so much FUN to sing... and then a joy to listen to later.

Here is the video of our performance at St. Barnabas Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 1st, 2013. Audio by one of Ottawa's top live recording engineers, Tom Barnes.

Visit our official website for updates.
Videographers: Valérie Auger-Voyer, Kevin Millington.
Video Editing: Pierre Massie

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Exultate Justi in Domino - Lodovico da Viadana, The Stairwell Carollers, Ottawa

Our new Sacred CD, Cantate Domino

New on YouTube -- our most recent live performance of Exultate Justi in Domino. 

This is one of our favourite Sacred pieces that we recorded this past spring for our first Sacred CD, Cantate Domino.

"Exultate Justi in Domino"is a popular Renaissance choral piece by  Lodovico Grossi da Viadana (1560 -- 1627), an Italian composer, teacher, and Franciscan friar of the Order of Friars Minor Observants.

Audio: Tom Barnes.  Recorded at our Spring concert at St. Barnabas Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 1st, 2013.

Videographers: Valérie Auger-Voyer, Kevin Millington.
Editing: Pierre Massie

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mini Blog Challenge Party -- Friday -- Family!

Mom, our biggest fan

Challenge for Saturday -- How my Family Reacts to my Blog

Mostly they react well, thank you -- although most don't read it. 

My husband (our director) always does -- when I remind him.

I suppose it would be different if I were posting personal family photos and dishing dirt about them to the faceless internet, but since this blog is semi-personal, semi - formal and, most likely, semi-read I've had no hassles so far. 

(I am the online face of The Stairwell Carollers, and must use some discretion.)
insert funny caption here
...Except that one family member on facebook who complained that I was emailing updates from my ruddy choir constantly. Wrong end of the stick there-- they had their FB email notifications on and that was facebook's fault.

Now I'm going to get in trouble for posting that -- I can't win.

Of  course...
2012 Stairwell Caroller Xmas concert
Choral music is a Niche "like" and I don't expect my family to read my blog, much less come to concerts. 

Mom, sister and Dad -- waay before Me
My Mom was our most supportive family member, but she is in heaven now with Daddy and her beloved cat.

My eldest sister took her place in the pews and gives us standing ovations at every concert she attends.

Buy our new Sacred CD HERE
So, it's all good.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Mini Blog Challenge Party -- Choir How-To -- 10 tips to help your choir be AMAZING!

The Stairwell Carollers present a $2000 cheque to a local Ottawa charity

Friday's Challenge -- Helpful list post -- 10 Choir Tips for Choirage Amazingness


Pierre finds a note
1. Choose a director with vision, commitment to excellence and confidence in his ability to teach and lead. If YOU are the director -- sit down and decide what kind of choir you want before going further.

Start with style -- a cappella, accompanied, Pop or barbershop? These all require different skill-sets and the director should be comfortable in the style chosen. The director should know what he wants and go for it with passion and energy.

2. Hold auditions. There are lots of choirs out there that do not require auditions, but to perfect a specific style, and to have control over the choir's sound, auditions help choose the perfect voices for your style.

3. Have regular rehearsals and TAKE ATTENDANCE. A choir striving for excellence cannot be a drop-in experience. Over time, the great people who are truly dedicated to the work will always be there.

Relaxing at Cantate Domino recording session
4. Keep it light. A sense of humour is paramount to a good experience. When everyone is trying their best, crabby criticism by stressed out choir members is the last thing anyone needs.

The director should set the tone and let everyone know they can laugh about mistakes and move forward.

Pete often makes us laugh at rehearsal

5. Do Warmups. Vocal warmups can tune up rhythm, timing, listening -- and, of course, get the voice ready for the two hours of singing ahead. In addition, a warmup can be a bonding ritual for the group that can have a meditative effect.

6. Be prepared. Learn as much of your music part before the rehearsal. The time can then be spent on dynamics and enjoying the harmonies and music as you are singing. If you are just focused on learning each note, you will miss what makes rehearsal so rewarding -- the group experience.

7. Have a Mandate. No -- not a date with a man... a purpose for your choir, aside from learning some songs and singing together. Do you want to sing at Carnegie hall -- or the local homeless shelter? Do you want to make money for choir trips or for diabetes research?

Forming a choir committee to discuss why the choir exists and even to write a constitution will help everyone be on the same page.

8. Post video with QUALITY SOUND on YouTube. It really is worth it to hire someone to audio record your concert. This can be synced with your video recording and will sound MUCH better than the video's sound.

Remember, YouTube may be where many people get their first impression of your choir.

9. Set Goals. Having a well-organized rehearsal schedule and concert dates in advance gives everyone something to strive towards and look forward to.

10. Have Fun!! Enjoy the moment. Live in the moment. Cliche, I know -- but true. Vocal Music is from the heart and to be lived and created from moment to moment. With no instrument, singing is a personal gift and your rehearsals should be uplifting, joyful and full of camaraderie.

Our wonderful sopranos!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mini Blog Challenge Party -- Ten Years Ago with The Stairwell Carollers

The Stairwell Carollers in 2003 -- ten years ago -- Dress rehearsal for Carols by Request Concert

Thursday's Challenge -- Throwback Thursday -- Ten Years!

2003 was a BIG year for the Stairwell Carollers

We pressed our third Christmas Carol CD Mourning Dove after much struggle with dripping ice on the roof of the church. 
Pete thinks about the ice

The haunting title track by our Director, Pierre. was chosen by our Dominion Carilloneur to be played on our National Capital's Carillon, at Parliament Hill here in Ottawa, Monday December 17th 2012.
Ice on the church roof stops recording

 Our 2003 Christmas concert season was a challenge in itself!

 Carols by Request was just that-- we had to learn many MANY carols -- old and new -- to be able to comply with our audiences possible requests. 

Twice as many carols were in the repertoire that year. We sang a set of lovely but uncommon carols in the first  set -- then, in the intermission, the audience chose their favourite carols and we compiled a second set ON THE SPOT. 

Some of the choices were SURPRISING. It was a heady and exciting (not to mention scary) experience. 
Purchase Mourning Dove here
Christmas is coming and our CDS make great gifts that give twice!  Proceeds from Stairwell Caroller merchandise helps local charities achieve their philanthropic goals. 

 We even have a cookbook  !

Holly :)

I will tell you tomorrow which carols won the top ten.

Mini Blog Challenge Party -- Wednesday (early AM Thursday) HUMOUR (yes, Canadian...)

Sorry girls -- we aren't auditioning Sopranos -- or Altos -- this season

Wednesday's Challenge -- Funny Post -- Ha Ha

I took over the duties of collecting auditioneers and setting up audition times this season. Despite the fact that we clearly asked for only Tenors and Basses, most of the emails requesting auditions were from


of the soprano and alto persuasion --

oh, and one female Bass.

Now, I'm NOT making fun of these girls -- I just figure I must be working through some bad Karma to have been put in the uncomfortable position of saying NO to so many lovely people. I think this was a record in the Stairwell Caroller books.

Thanks, Universe...

Two Tenors and a Bass that didn't make it into The Stairwell Carollers -- we have some standards, y'know

Mini Blog Challenge Party -- Tuesday (on Thursday 12:05 AM) Controversy!!

True Love

Tuesday's Challenge -- a Controversial Post...

Ok, here's Tuesday's post - also not on Tuesday.. is that controversial enough?

If you want controversy -- usually you don't think of the Stairwell Carollers.

But then, we sing MADRIGALS in CHURCH -- and a few of our viewers on YouTube thought one particular madrigal was kind of RACY for such a religious venue.

Dare I post the translation that the commenter posted? No -- you will have to visit YouTube to read it --- and please understand that this translation has a swear word in it that I think is the commenters own INTERPRETATION. It could have been translated in less vulgar language.

Here was our official response -- 

"We do know what the meaning is of all our songs -- the translations are available and usually there is at least one member of the choir who is fluent in whatever language the song happens to be in. As I tried to say in Spanish (with Google translate -- forgive me) to the other commenter, we have never had any complaints -- we consider these pieces quaint and parts of musical history, rather than pass judgement on them."

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mini Blog Challenge Party -- Monday (on Wed night) Confessions!

Me, Westin Bed, Montreal ComicCon, NOT blogging

  Monday Challenge -- confessions of a Blogger

Well, I have to confess -- I am writing this on Wednesday night -- since last week and my weekend were so crazy (attended Montreal ComicCon!!) that I am now FAKING it big-time!
Pete and I at Mike Grell's table -- the empty chair is MINE. #entourage


Sometimes I schedule my blog entries so it seems I wrote them in the Bright and early Morn -- but really it was the dark and stormy night that gave me my inspiration.


I place

lots of


to make my points seem more...


Sometimes I am just lazy, and cut and paste the description from our latest You tube upload rather than writing new text when I embed the vid in the blog.

Now, pretend I posted this on Monday...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Add your Music Blog LINK -- September Linky party NOW ON. TOP THREE from our August Link-up

                           Before you LINK up your Musically-related photos, articles, compositions and blogs...

Please take a moment to check out our AUGUST LINKUP TOP THREE .

First up is a guest post by Melissa Perry Moraja on the great educational blog, "Music Teaching and Parenting"

Composer Brandon Nelson with a brand new piece,
Brandon Nelson, composer’s avatar

And lastly, an extensive observance of the Virgin Mary in music history by Kelly Galbraith

We want to connect with other bloggers who love choral music.
Use our easy Linky tool to post your composition tips, singing techniques, ideas for the best recording venues and your fave choral videos.

Music related crafts, decor and recipes too!

Visit as many of these bloggers as possible and leave a quick comment like, "Hello! I love choral music too, and I hope you have a wonderful week!" I'd also love it if you could leave a comment here about this project.

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Ave Maria, The Stairwell Carollers, traditional a cappella

Detail of painting at St. Barnabas., Ottawa
                       From Canada's capitol of Ottawa comes The Stairwell Carollers, performing "Ave Maria" by the famous Renaissance composer Anonymous. :)

Recorded at St. Barnabas Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 1st, 2013 by Tom Barnes. Thanks Tom! A job well done, as always!

Buy our CDs in support of local charities! This version of "Ave Maria" is available on our "Cantate Domino" CD.

Visit our blog or our website for updates.

Videographers: Valérie Auger-Voyer, Kevin Millington.

Video Editing: Pierre Massie


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