Friday, November 29, 2013

Ottawa Youville Centre thrilled to receive surprise Christmas gift from The Stairwell Carollers

Photo credit Youville centre, Ottawa
Provincial Choral Champs give back to the Community
written by David Rain   
Nov 26, 2013, For Immediate Release (Ottawa) – When Executive Director Cindy Simpson received the call from Andrea Walton that morning, she was delighted. “What a wonderful surprise,” she said, as Andrea shared the news that her choir, the Stairwell Carollers, had decided to make a special $2,000 Christmas gift to Youville Centre, a registered charity in Ottawa that assists young mothers and their children.

“We are so grateful to you,” Cindy continued, “The moms and babies of Youville thank you.”  

Youville Centre, named after the first Canadian-born saint, Marie-Marguerite d'Youville, has been motivating, educating and nurturing young mothers and their children to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society since 1987.

Photo credit Farris-Manning Photography
When Cindy learned that the Stairwell Carollers have made donations totalling more than $64,000 over the years, she was quite impressed with how much the choir had raised for local charities, and very honoured that Youville Centre would now be joining a long line of grateful recipients.

Winners of the 2013 OMFA provincial competition, the Carollers have great fun raising funds for their donations, and for their scholarships to local high school students pursuing further studies in music.

In addition to concert ticket income, they have for sale 7 professionally produced CDs in a wide variety of styles: sacred music, madrigals, and of course, Christmas carols.

The Stairwell Carollers will make an official presentation of their donation to Youville Centre at their annual Christmas Fundraising Concert: Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Lisgar St, Saturday December 14 at 7:30pm.

Come hear some great music and help the choir raise funds for their next donations!

Tickets are available at the door for $20, or in advance for $15 ONLINE or from The Leading Note, 370 Elgin St; Compact Music, 206 & 785 1/2 Bank St; Books on Beechwood, 35 Beechwood Ave,

To learn more about Youville Centre, visit

- 30 –

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gift Basket Joy! Generous local businesses stuff our Baskets of Love for upcoming 2013 Christmas concerts

Year two of my "Baskets of Love" project and the basket goodies fairly fell into my hands as I approached our local retailers!

All our Gift Baskets are filled with Stairwell Caroller Christmas CDs, assorted goodies such as specialty teas, coffee, biscuits, cookies, tapenade, dipping oils, crackers and of course, chocolate. In addition, I've included the CD Rom version of our cookbook, Eatwell -- which my husband and our director, Pete, designed to open nicely in a browser window. The Eatwell Cookbook CD even includes a selection of unpublished songs for you to enjoy while you browse the recipes.

Topped off with tree decorations and a bow, the basket will make a great Christmas gift for a Music and chocolate lover!

Each basket is unique and priced according to the number of Christmas CDs included -- and remember, you have a chance to win one as a door prize at the concert reception after!

Time for Thanks --

A giant box of snowy silver and white spring fill -- thank you!
Kit and Kaboodles in Manotick was so quick to fulfill my requests for shiny bows and "spring fill", we gave them an ad in our program booklet as thanks. Spool of thread in the photo gives you an idea of the size of the box !

a tiny sampling of the Loblaws swag
Loblaws in Baarhaven gave us a $100 gift card to spend on goodies to fill the baskets.
Patty and I had fun on that shopping trip!

Giant Tiger in Manotick gave us 26 packs of Ferraro Rocher -- Yum!

Starbucks in Baarhaven gave us two travel mugs, coffee packets and a cute Starbucks ceramic tree decoration.

Baarhaven Wal-Mart gifted us $25 to spend -- goes a long way when  they pay the tax -- thanks!

Coffee, fancy chocolate and biscuits, please!
At the last minute,  
Home Depot In Baarhaven gave us $50 -- and I spent it on tree decorations as an added Christmassy item.

Shatter proof and lovely!

Baskets will be available at our concerts at the CD table. As always, proceeds support our charitable efforts in the community.

Baskets will also be given as door prizes at the receptions after the concerts, see you there!

The Stairwell Carollers present "In dulci jubilo"

candle Saturday, December 14th
Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Lisgar St, Ottawa (ON) , 7:30pm.

candle Wednesday, December 18th
St Columba Anglican Church 24 Sandridge Rd, ,Ottawa, (ON), 7:30pm.

For these two performances only, advance tickets can be purchased for $15, using the following options...

  • BUY THEM NOW ONLINE through PayPal
  • Purchase tickets at the following locations...
    • Leading Note, 370 Elgin St., Suite No. 2
    • Compact Music, 206 & 785 1/2 Bank Street locations OR

    • Books on Beechwood, 35 Beechwood Ave.
    Tickets may also be purchased at the door for $20.

  • Other concert listings.
    candle Saturday, November 30th
    Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte, (ON), 7:30pm..
    candle Sunday, December 1st
    We will be caroling in the Byward Market from 12-2pm Watch for us!..
    candle Saturday, December 7th
    St. Stephen's, 212 Old Chelsea Rd, Chelsea, (QC), 7:30pm..
    candle Sunday, December 8th
    National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Dr Ottawa, 3pm, in the Garden Court..

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    Mourning Dove, Wassail Song and Ça Bergers -- Dec 5th on the Carillon, Parliament Hill

    Detail of Dr. Andrea McCrady's arrangement of Pierre Massie's original "Mourning Dove" Carol

    Pierre Massie Compositions and Arrangements chosen for the Carillon

    Update: Dr.Andrea McCrady will play Pierre’s arrangements of two popular carols, 
    The Wassail Song and Ça bergers,
    on the Peace Tower Carillon for the Parliament Hill tree lighting ceremony  Christmas Lights across Canada
    December 5th 2013 between 5:30-5:55 pm. 

    She will also play The Wassail Song, Ça bergers and Pierre's original carol, Mourning Dove, at Noon.

    As with much of life these days, this story started with an email -- a humble request addressed to Pierre Massie from Dr. AndreaMcCrady, our Dominion Carillonneur.  Impressed by The Stairwell Carollers concert videos on YouTube, she asked permission to arrange one of his original compositions for the Carillon on Parliament Hill.

     Yes, please.
    Pierre Massie

    Of his many compositions and arrangements, she chose one of Pierre's personal favourites, his contemporary Christmas carol “Mourning Dove.”   
    On our arrival at Parliament Hill, Pierre looked up at the Peace Tower, in awe that his music would soon echo from the same bells that have tolled the hours and provided daily concerts, since July 1st, 1927. 

    We waited while huddling underneath the overhang at the front entrance.  Just after noon hour, at 12:15, Dec 17th 2012, his haunting melody -- inspired by the lonesome call of the wild dove -- pealed from the Carillon’s fifty-three bells.  It was somehow fitting that rain was falling from grey skies.  It was an indescribable thrill to hear one of Pierre’s favourite compositions performed in such a public manner -- a surreal moment.  

    Old print of Parliament Hill
    After the Carillon performance, they offered us a guided tour.  We had sung many times with the Stairwell Carollers in the Parliament Buildings, but had never taken a tour.  Later, when Dr. McCrady came down, she greeted us like old friends and immediately made us feel comfortable.  

    Tree in center block foyer
    Dr. McCrady was sincerely interested in Pierre and his music.  They were of one mind, discussing music at length and completely losing me in the process.  
    I’m not complaining -- it was like listening to two geniuses floating ideas while discussing physics.  Afterwards, we followed her down a long stairway, passing through the catacombs of Parliament -- the secret passageways below the buildings -- the only place where I wasn’t allowed to take photos.
    In the Dominion Carillonneur’s office, we found the practice carillon, which is a full-size instrument without attachment to the bells.  It has a lovely sound -- charming -- like a giant music box.
    Pierre and Dr. McCrady in front of practice Carillon
    Watching Dr. McCrady play the physically demanding practice carillon was both exhilarating and exhausting.  She hammered each key with her closed fists while stretching her legs to reach the furthest pedals, exhibiting a high level of musical skill and muscle strength.  Imagine a pipe organ made for a giant.  

    Dr. McCrady seated at the Carillon
    As we left her office and took the elevator up to the Peace Tower Carillon, I wondered what it would be like.  Considering the high ceiling and airiness of her workspace, I was ill prepared for the tiny, near claustrophobic closet that encases the actual Carillon.  Even the Carillon’s sound has to be piped into the soundproofed room.  In fact, the Carillon is purely a physical percussion instrument, with the bells stationary and the clappers intensity directly controlled by the Carillonneur. All performances of the Carillon are live – there are no electronic bells or recordings.  

    The honour of Pierre's composition chosen for inclusion in the Carillons repertoire was starting to sink in.  His music is now going to be a part of music history in the official Peace Tower Carillon repertoire.
    Pierre's interview on CBC radio's  "All in a Day"

    Emerging from Parliament after this amazing day, we learned that someone had informed CBC radio of our adventure.  Pierre and I hiked over to Sparks Street for an interview on CBC’s All in a Day.

     We'd like to thank Dr. Andrea McCrady for this great honour and wonderful opportunity.  On top of being an approachable and warm person, she has mastered the Carillon -- one of the most imposing musical instruments on the planet.

    She's also a doctor of medicine -- an exceptional human being.

    Peace Tower Carillon Program for the Tree Lighting Ceremony

    Thursday, December 5, 2013; from 12:00 p. m. to 12:15 p. m.
              O Canada
                Here We Come a-Caroling, arranged by William De Turk
    Ça, bergers, assemblons-nous, arranged for choir by Pierre Massie, for carillon by Andrea McCrady
    Mourning Dove, by Pierre Massie, arranged by Andrea McCrady
    Ding, Dong, Merrily on High, arranged by Sally Slade Warner
    Wassail Song, arranged for choir by Pierre Massie, for carillon by Andrea McCrady
    Deck the Halls, arranged by Milford Myhre

    Thursday, December 5, 2013; from 5:30 p. m. to 5:55 p. m.
    Christmas Lighting Ceremony Carillon Prelude
    Carol of the Bells, by Mykola Leontovych, arranged by Ronald Barnes
    Venez pasteurs, by Émilien Allard
    Jesous Ahatonhia (The Huron Carol), arranged by Milford Myhre
    Ça, bergers, assemblons-nous, arranged for choir by Pierre Massie, for carillon by Andrea McCrady
    Wassail Song, arranged for choir by Pierre Massie, for carillon by Andrea McCrady
    Snow is Dancing, by Eric West (NL), arranged by Andrea McCrady
    Frosty the Snowman, by Steve Nelson and Walter Rollins, arranged by Janet Dundore
    White Christmas, by Irving Berlin, arranged by Sally Slade Warner
    Brazilian Sleighbells, by Percy Faith, arranged by John Ellis

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    Sunday, November 10, 2013

    For Remembrance Day, November 11th, 2013

    Photo by Holly Massie

    Remembering those we lost to war. 
    "A Pittance of Time" by Terry Kelly.

    Photo by Holly Massie

    Wednesday, November 6, 2013

    November 2013 Choral Linky Party now on! Link up your Music Blog Posts now :)

    LINK up your Musically-related photos, articles, compositions and blog posts  
    Our three Featured October  Posts

     A beautiful original composition by Brandon Nelson
    Photo copyright Holly Massie

    I was thrilled to see this insightful commentary on generosity and creativity amongst musicians, penned by @misssable 
    Her blog, The Choir Girl, is a Canadian chorister's must-read!

    And... just for fun -- thanks Missable!
    photo copyright Holly Massie

    Sh*t Choristers Say

    We want to connect with other bloggers who love choral music.
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    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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