Classical Music Buzz > The Stairwell Carollers Choir Blog
The Stairwell Carollers Choir Blog
Stairwell Carollers
Canada's bilingual, award-winning acappella chamber choir. En Français - Les Chanteurs Stairwell, Ottawa, Ontario
429 Entries
The Stairwell Carollers present a charitable gift to Immigrant services, 2015 concertHere is our 2016 Concert schedule! Also on our website HERE

The Stairwell Carollers present
"Adeste fideles"

Friday, December 16th 
Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Lisgar St, Ottawa, (ON) , 7:30pm.

Saturday, December 17th
St Columba Anglican Church 24 Sandridge Rd, , Ottawa, (ON), 7:30pm.

$15 advance tickets are available...


    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
    Saturday, November 26th
    St. Stephen's, 212 Chemin Old Chelsea, Chelsea, QC, 7:30pm..
    Friday, December 2nd
    Trinity United, 1099 Maitland Ave, Ottawa, ON, 7:30pm.
    Saturday, December 3rd
    St. Thomas Anglican Church, 1619 Stittsville Main St, Stittsville, (ON), 7:30pm.
    Friday, December 9th
    St. Mark's the Evangelist, 1606 Fisher Ave, Ottawa, ON,7:30pm.
    Email us for more info
    13 days ago | |
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    Harmonious Voices - upcoming Nov 26th Stairwell Caroller concert  -- newspaper article by Ben Bulmer

    Thanks for a lovely article promoting our upcoming concert in Chelsea, Quebec Nov. 26th at 7:30pm.

    As all of our concerts, doors open at 7:00pm and there is no reserved seating so be early to get a good seat! Tickets at the door for $20 or in advance for $15 by contacting the church at .

    The Stairwell Carollers perform at St Stephens church in Chelsea, Quebec

    Thanks to Suzanne G. for scanning this article, as I don't think its online yet. Thanks to Ben Bulmer for writing it and thanks too Rene for forwarding it to us.
    13 days ago | |
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    David Rain, tenor, stands in front of the Rideau Falls, Ottawa
    Mea culpa. 
    My name is David Rain. I run marathons, and I sing a cappella.

    And yes, there is a connection! I’ve been singing tenor in the Stairwell Carollers since 1993, and running marathons since 1995. A long time. But the connection “runs” deeper, of course. 
    When I run, ideas pop into my head. And thus, while on a long training run in the fall of 2015, my throat got dry and I stopped for a drink in Vincent Massey Park. As I looked up from the fountain, I saw a sign pointing north that said "Chutes Rideau Falls." 
    Suddenly, without warning, a whole Christmas carol flashed before my very eyes. And the rest, as they say, is history.A great view of the Rideau Falls, David's Muse In an instant, three ideas popped into my head:
    (1)  That the carol would be bilingual, in keeping with the glorious linguistic mix of this amazing choir.
    (2)  That the Rideau Falls would play an important part; hence, the first verse opens with "As the icy curtain descends" – the word "rideau" in French meaning "curtain" in English.
    (3)  That a key musical theme right from the outset would be a cascading melody of some kind that would also be a play on words – i.e. the word "chutes" in French means "falls" in English, while its homophone "chut" means "hush", and has spiritual connotations, inviting listeners to be quiet, since the baby (Jesus) is sleeping.
    Thus the carol, right from its conception, has both religious and secular foundations – just like our choir members – and the interplay between these two forces defines the whole character of the piece.
    The Stairwell Carollers race across the street to carol in Byward Market
    This carol was meant to pay homage to the Stairwell Carollers. And in a real sense, my “Rideau Carol” is a love song to the choir.
    And hence, key elements of the choir's experiences were meant to be brought out in the piece, including places we have sung at: e.g. Parliament Hill, the National Gallery, the Byward Market, and so on. And there is a fun verse bringing out the secular half of the equation, which starts, “We ski, we skate, we slip and we slide”, and so on.
    And I couldn't resist writing some special text, and music, in honour of the choir's name, and thus there is an extended section of joyful bursts of sound on the word "carolling", and a special climax on the word "stairwells."

    David, left, Carolling with the Stairwell Carollers in Ottawa's Byward Market
    As the “Rideau Carol” developed, and I worked more closely on the opening "chutes" melody, I realized that it worked best starting with high women's voices, and in a kind of trio. It didn't take long for me to figure out that, in terms of orchestral instruments, this cascading melody perhaps most closely evoked the sound of three flutes, and hence the sub-title of the piece, "Chanson des trois flûtes."
    The fact that there are three flutes also helps underscore the spiritual half of the carol's foundation, i.e. the Holy Trinity. Spirituality is also implicit in the reference to the Rideau Canal and especially the Rideau River flowing into “the wise old Outaouais” (Ottawa River), as these are sacred sites for the Algonquin peoples on whose land most of us are dwelling.
    Lastly, as someone who has struggled to adapt to the sometimes harsh winters of our nation's capital (I grew up on the milder west coast and spent 10 years in Tanzania in East Africa), I added some text and music that were meant to evoke a “west coaster's” mindset. Typical winter weather in Canada's Capital
    By this, I mean those frustrating feelings fomenting inside, reacting to our excessively long winter; the ever-present dreams of spring coming soon, soon, soon… mixed, unfortunately, with the stark reality that sometimes spring takes a very long time, and hence, musically, the overall major tonality does slip into a minor key here and there, struggling to find that major resolution!
    I can't describe my joy and pride while listening to my fellow choir members rehearse the “Rideau Carol”, with Pierre Massie our brilliant director pushing and prodding us in tough spots that I never suspected would be tough, bringing those notes on the printed page to life. To be a witness to this miracle is one of the great joys of my life so far.
    Director Pierre Massie leads the Stairwell Carollers in rehearsal

    Pierre deserves special mention for patiently mentoring me for over a year to make this the very best “Rideau Carol” that I was capable of writing.
    And last but not least, I’d like to acknowledge first, my daughter Salima, who is coming up from Toronto to hear the premiere performance of the “Rideau Carol” in Chelsea QC on November 26 – she has been with me on this project right from the get go, and was part of a small family team that did the first semi-public performance of an early version of the piece a year ago at my aunt’s Christmas lunch in Vancouver– as well as my two former choir buddies, Nikki and She-Yang, who gave a brave and inspiring duet version of the “Rideau Carol” at Josée’s choir party in January.
    David plays accompaniment to the Rideau Carol
    Chutes, chutes, chutes, chutes, chutes, chutes, chutes, chutes, chutes. “Il est, il est, il est né, l’enfant est né“, chantent nos trois flûtes. 
    As the icy curtain descends,  Et “la Veille de Noël” daylight ends,   To the wise old Outaouais River, flowBoth frozen canal and rivière Rideau.
    David Rain
    17 days ago | |
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    Stairwell Caroller director, Pierre Massie challenges our new members during movable Do warmup
    You may not be aware that our Director, Pierre Massie, is also an award-winning choral composer and arranger! On his newly launched site to showcase his emerging Song Catalogue, he had this to say:

    "I am pleased to announce that my original Canadian Choral Compositions and Arrangements are now available for digital download from SMP Press, partner to Sheet Music Plus.

    For many years now Sheet Music Plus has been one of my favourite sources for sheet music for my choir, The Stairwell Carollers.

    I will keep you posted as I upload new pieces for your perusal.


    I am so proud of his accomplishments! Please take a moment to check out his work. Most pieces are suitable for SATB mixed choirs.

    Here is a Youtube Playlist of some of his arrangements and original Compositions sung by the Stairwell Carollers.

    2 months ago | |
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    Martha notes changes in the music with a pencil

    Ringing the changes!

    11 new Stairwellers bring our choir to its largest at 34 ! All bursting with song, all super motivated for our coming 39th singing season.

    Farewell to well-loved members going on to family, travel new jobs and new homes -- we will miss you.

    It was quite a job to replace those voices, but our blitz of flyers and posters at Music and Beyond and local community centres and libraries and notices on social media and in our newsletter drew out an awesome choice of  individuals trying out for a spot in the Stairwell. Thanks to Pierre and all the Stairwellers who worked to get the word out.

    As some of you know, being chosen for the Stairwell Carollers has less to do with musical knowledge and more to do with what kind of voice you have. Pierre has strived through the years to maintain the group sound that ensures no matter who comes and goes, we still sound like The Stairwell Carollers have always sounded. Listen to our CDs, and you will see how amazing that is -- you would swear it was the very same group that recorded every one!

    So, if you tried out and didn't make it, be assured it wasn't because you don't have a great voice or attitude. We are just one of SO many great Ottawa area choirs and there is one out there that needs your special voice!

    3 months ago | |
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    Stairwell Carollers Auditions 2016 Christmas season
    Stairwell Carollers Auditions 2016 Christmas season
    Happy Birthday Canada!
    Happy Birthday Canada!
    There has never been a better time to join one of Canada's finest choirs, The Stairwell Carollers! Next year we will be celebrating our choir's 40th Anniversary along with Canada's 150th! Don't miss your chance to share the experience as a Stairweller!I've never blogged so many exclation marks in one paragraph!!

    We are seeking sopranos, tenors and basses for our Fall 2016 SeasonSome of our Stairwellers are off to school, new jobs and new homes. We will miss them, but need YOU to refresh the singing ranks and continue our important charitable work.
    Stairwell Carollers present $2000 to Ottawa Immigrant Services
    Stairwell Carollers present $2000 to Ottawa Immigrant Services
    Auditions start August 17th! You must contact us to set up your audition time.If you live within driving distance of the Ottawa (Canada's Capital) region, then the Stairwell Carollers may be the choir you're looking for.

    Altos need not apply, however, we can place you on a waiting list for the future.

    To qualify, all you need is a solid voice, a good ear and a great attitude. Many of us are bilingual ( we are proud of being an officially bilingual choir) but you need not be fluently bilingual to be part of the group.

    (Reading music is an asset but not a necessity.)
    For more info, send us an email -- info (at) stairwellcarollers (dot) com
    Don't delay! Contact us NOW to book your audition time.Les Chanteurs Stairwell font des auditions régulièrement. Nous recherchons des sopranos, basses et des tenors pour août 2016.(Lire la musique est un atout mais n'est pas essentiel.)Pour plus de renseignements, envoyez-nous un courriel. cute scroll

    If you live in the Ottawa/Hull area and love to sing, set up your audition with us now!

    5 months ago | |
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    A duet of American goldfinches
    A duet of American goldfinches
    David's original article as submitted is below:

    Ottawa choir sings a charitable duet this spring May 18, 2016, For Immediate Release (Ottawa) –

    Founded in 1977, the Stairwell Carollers give back to the community in so many diverse ways. Musically, they are an award-winning a capella choir, led by an award-winning composer, their director, Pierre Massie.

    Stairwell Carollers enter for concert at Almonte UnitedThe Stairwell Carollers also sing in a humanitarian key, as they are a registered charity themselves. Over the years, including this spring, proceeds from their CD and ticket sales have allowed them to donate over $130,000 in music scholarships to students and special gifts to local charities.

    Continuing this tradition, the choir is thrilled to announce this year’s winner of the Stairwell Carollers music scholarship, Charlie Watson. Charlie is a grade 12 student at Canterbury High School, who plays the piano and trumpet and also sings in the male chorus. He is excited to receive this $1000 award, which will help him as he enters the University of Toronto music department in performance this fall.

    The Stairwell Carollers are also pleased to present their next $2000 donation to the Ottawa Chapter of Parkinson Canada. From diagnosis to discovery, Parkinson Canada guides the way for Canadians to live well with Parkinson’s disease through education, advocacy and support services.

    The Carollers will make an official presentation of their gift to Parkinson Canada at their spring concert
    at Saint Barnabas Church (corner of James St & Kent St) on June 4th, 7:30pm.

    Tickets are available at the door for $20, or in advance for $15 from The Leading Note, 370 Elgin St; Compact Music, 190 & 785 1/2 Bank St; Books on Beechwood, 35 Beechwood Ave, or online at
    And if you’re looking for a great gift, the Stairwell Carollers’ latest CD, “O magnum mysterium”, will be on sale at the concert. Your purchase of a CD will help the Carollers offer their next music scholarship or donation to a local charity.

    To learn more about Parkinson Canada, visit

    David, Tenor, the Stairwell Carollers David Rain, who sings second tenor, has been receiving his musical cues from the back of Pierre Massie’s head for 23 years with the Carollers. For more information, please visit
    6 months ago | |
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    The Stairwell Carollers welcome Richard to the Tenor section
    The Stairwell Carollers welcome Richard to the Tenor section
    So... I joined a choir. It's something I do. I've sung with choirs in Budapest (Gabrieli Choir) and Aarhus (Korinord) and Toronto (Hart House Chorus) and a few others beside.

    Richard, in blue, top right, pays close attention to Pierre's direction
    Richard, in blue, top right, pays close attention to Pierre's direction
    It's the Stairwell Carollers and if you're reading this, you've probably already heard of the group.

    Director Pierre works with the men only for Spaséniye sodélal
    Director Pierre works with the men only for Spaséniye sodélal
    This choir has bits of the best bits of some of those choirs - it's a small group of people from all walks of life and a range of ages who come together to make beautiful music.

    The men only sing Spaséniye sodélal
    The men only sing Spaséniye sodélal
    We sing unaccompanied (I don't think the drum for "Tourdion" really counts), beautiful music from anywhere from five hundred years ago to five years ago. And we sing it well.

    Even better, we do good: each year the Stairwell Carollers raises money for charities active in our community and to provide a scholarship to an Ottawa-area high school student beginning music studies at a Canadian university.

    Last week I sang my first concert with the group - in Almonte, so I understand if you didn't make it out. But this Saturday evening we'll sing the same repertoire in downtown Ottawa and I hope you can make it to join us.

    It's really some fantastic music. Come, hear!

    Richard Martin-NielsenTenor

    6 months ago | |
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    Stairwell Carollers St. Barnabas church, Ottawa
    Stairwell Carollers St. Barnabas church, Ottawa
    Don't miss our gala 2016 Spring Concert June 4th 7:30 pm at St. Barnabas Church, 70 James St. Ottawa !

    $15 in advance, $20 at the door.
    ADVANCE TICKETS are available from all choir members in person, ONLINE HERE, and at selected local businesses.
    We will be presenting a $2000 cheque to the local chapter of the Parkinson's society of Eastern Ontario at this concert. This gift is made possible through our concert ticket and CD sales. Thanks! CDs are always available at our concert during intermission and at the reception afterwards. Thanks to the Square, we can accept credit cards at the concert for cd sales, so do that early Christmas shopping :)
    As always, there will be a post concert reception with lots of yummies supplied by the choir. There is also a door prize draw , but you must be at the reception to win -- so we will see you there!

    Since it was so well loved last spring, we are continuing to explore musical selections from the contemporary scene alternating with glorious prices from the Renaissance period. Here is the repertoire for the evening.
    Lux Aurumque 2016 Stairwell Carollers Repertoire Our director, Pierre, has again chosen some spectacular music for this concert.Due to popular demand ( and the fact that we all LOVE it) we are again singing the modern Ave Maria by Franz Biebl. If you have been living under a rock and have never heard it, here is an exquisite version of it on YouTube performed by a lone virtuoso, Mr. Matthew Curtis. We are planning to do quest workshops with Matthew here in Ottawa for the Stairwell Carollers upcoming 40th anniversary in 2017 -- which coincides with Canadas 150th birthday!

    Don't miss this concert!
    Here is a text list of the concert repertoire:1. Amor Vittorioso - Giovanni Gastoldi (c.1550-1622)
    2. Pater Noster - Igor Stravinsky
    3. Dindirin, dindirin - Anon.(c.1500)
    4. Earth Song - Frank Ticheli
    5. Cucú, cucú! - Juan del Encina (1464-1523)
    6. O magnum mysterium - Morten Lauridsen
    7. Come Again - John Dowland (1563–1626)
    8. O vos omnes - Pablo Cassals
    9. Fa una canzone - Orazio Vecchi (1551-1605)
    10. In Remembrance - Eleanor Daley
    11. Tourdion - Claude Gervaise (fl.1540–1560)
    12. Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal - Paul Mealor
    13. La Tricotea - Franco Alonso (c.1490-1520)
    14. Spaséniye sodélal - Pavel Chesnokov
    15. Fair Phyllis - John Farmer (1570-1601)
    16. Lux aurumque - Eric Whitacre
    17. Le chant des oyseaux - Clément Janequin (c.1485-1558)
    18. Esto les Digo - Kinley Lange
    19. O Jesu Christe - Jacquet de Mantua (1483 -1559)
    20. Salve Regina - Francis Poulenc
    21. Corten espadas afiladas - Cancionero de Medinaceli (1500)
    22. Ubi caritas - Maurice Duruflé
    23. El Grillo - Josquin Des Prez (1440-1521)
    24. Ave Maria - Franz Biebl
    Tonight we are also singing a concert at Almonte United Church in Almonte, Ont. Please call 613 256 1355 for ticket info.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    And, for your listening pleasure, a TEASER PLAYLIST for the concert....
    Check out our newsletter for more details!
    6 months ago | |
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    Jay Fee, Conduction Mastering records Stairwell Carollers CDs
    Jay Fee, Conduction Mastering records Stairwell Carollers CDs
    Our latest CD for Christmas, o Magnum Mysterium
    Our latest CD for Christmas, o Magnum Mysterium
    Our latest CD for Christmas, o Magnum Mysterium
    Lit by the light of his Mac, Jay works intently
    Lit by the light of his Mac, Jay works intently
    The Stairwell Carollers are proud to have worked with Jay Fee for all our CD and thanks to him, they all have the same high quality and sound production. He really understands the Stairwell Carollers sound and the detailed audio needs of an a cappella choir.

    Jay Fee, Conduction Mastering
    Jay Fee, Conduction Mastering
    Jay's recording company is Conduction Mastering and he has worked with many up and coming independent musicians, producers and even Sony. His impressive list of credits is HERE .

    We can't say enough to recommend him for your recording needs whether you are a solo musician, pop group, a cappella ensemble or choral group. He records us on location in church venues but a large proportion of his record work is done in studio.

    Our full compliment of Christmas, Sacred and Renaissance madrigal CDs can be perished and purchased directly from us HERE.

    6 months ago | |
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