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CCPodcast S.2#14 - "I Am Not Yours" - Sneek Peek

Ottawa choral music fans are in for a real treat June 2nd. Pierre Massie and his award-winning choir The Stairwell Carollers will be celebrating the finale of their 40th anniversary season with a diverse program of six centuries of music sung in six languages. 2018 Spring concert Programme - Eya Eya The concert will feature a number of Renaissance gems from England, Spain, France and Germany, 19th century gems like Abendlied by Josef Rheinberger, and modern masterpieces by Lauridsen,...


CC Podcast S. 2 #13 - SSShort and SSSweet

This week is a physical warmup exercise for diaphragmatic breathing - done in a standing position. Teeth together, mouth slightly open, deep breath and release the breath in a controlled manner. Allow only the tiniest stream of air to be released in a smooth hisssss. SSSSSSSSSSSS... It's a room full of leaky tires. We revisit an earlier CC Podcast breath control exercise - with a little more direction from Pierre about the importance of the diaphragm in breathing. The Stairwell Carollers:...


CCPodcast S. 2 #12 - Be like Fonzie

In this week's Choral Cacophony Podcast, The Fonz from Happy Daze fame and spaghetti are featured. Pierre uses both these vivid examples (and others) to illustrate vowel quality and production. He runs the choir through the vowel sounds with his own brand of colourful descriptions of how the sounds should come out and what shape they should take. This rehearsal group included a number of auditioners back in August 2016. A few voices stick out and were subsequently not chosen for the choir....


CC Podcast S. 2 #11 - Spring Concerts Sneak Preview - Abendlied

If you've been following our Choral Cacophony Podcasts (and why not???) you may be motivated to hear us LIVE IN CONCERT! Here we are at a recent rehearsal preparing Abendlied by Joseph Rheinberger for the upcoming concerts. Enjoy! The Stairwell Carollers: Pierre Massie began our a cappella choir in 1977 while a music student at Ottawa U. The Stairwell Carollers are ranked with the best of Ontario choirs, winning both the 2010 and 2013 Ontario Music Festival Association competitions. A...


CC Podcast S. 2 #10 - Spring Forward with Octave Jumps

Whaaaat? This week's Choral Cacophony Podcast features a warmup you can do to help with Octave jumps AND relaxed open tones. The secret?? Looking down. Yes. Literally. Looking down. Looking UP to reach a high note - straining for a note - can close off your air flow and tense up your muscles unnecessarily. So, look down when you reach up for that note. Try it, it works. About The Stairwell Carollers: Pierre Massie started our a cappella choir 40 years ago, in 1977, while a student of music...


CC Podcast S. 2 #9 - Movable Do - Dissonance!

How high can you go? And can you hold that note? Does dissonance pull you away from your part? Stay with your section and stay in tune! Those are the two skills practiced in this week's Choral Cacophony Podcast. As an alto I know all about having to hold one note... for...ever. I've called us the Polyfilla of the choir since we always seem to fill the cracks missed by the other harmonies. In Modern and Contemporary music the dissonances in the musical design can be challenging - to say the...


CC Podcast S. 2 #8 - Play Ball!

We're all on hold waiting and wanting the spring flowers to appear. Our new singing season starts and it's a whole new ballgame - 40th, contemporary, Canadian! Personally, I can't wait to see the first flowers pop up through the snow. It's early innings in our rehearsals and there are still songs to learn and skills to hone. So, for our Choral Cacophony Podcast Season 2 Number 8, here's a fresh warmup that covers all the bases. The Stairwell Carollers: Pierre Massie began our a cappella...


CC Podcast S. 2 #7 - One Note Wonder

As a singer, in a chorus especially, we have to shape our vowels correctly (and the way the director prefers!) But, how do we do that? Like most skill development, it takes practice and guidance. Practice making the sound, shaping the mouth, and - where does that darn pesky tongue go? Hint - The tongue should lay in the mouth, as if ready for a yawn, touching the back of the teeth. If you are lucky, you have a master music teacher on a mission leading your chorus. This weeks Choral...


CC Podcast S. 2 #5a - Working out Laud

In this weeks Choral Cacophony Podcast episode (Second of two parts) we work on a piece called Resonet in laudibus. It's a latin Sacred composition from the 14th century, transcribed by our director, Pierre Massie. About The Stairwell Carollers: Pierre Massie began our a cappella choir way back in 1977 while studying music at Ottawa U. The Stairwell Carollers are ranked with the best of Ontario choirs, winning both the 2010 and 2013 Ontario Music Festival Association competitions. A...


CC Podcast S. 2 #5 - Resonet in Laudibus Rhythm

In this weeks Choral Cacophony Podcast episode (the first of two parts) we rehearse a piece called Resonet in laudibus. It's a latin sacred composition from the 14th century, transcribed by our director, Pierre Massie. Please DONATE to support our 40th year events! All Donations receive a charitable receipt. A registered Canadian charity, we also help local charities with our concerts and CDs ! The Stairwell Carollers: Pierre Massie started our a cappella choir in 1977 while he was a music...


CCPodcast S. 2 #4a - A Heavenly Pair

Here is the conclusion of a Two Part Choral Cacophony Podcast for lovers English madrigals from the Renaissance. Part 2 continues with Fine Knacks for Ladies, by John Dowland. This podcast highlights Pierre's sense of humour in rehearsal, a question from Holly, pronunciation of key words and an answer from Maggie. Fine Knacks For Ladies - John Dowland Fine knacks for ladies, cheap, choice, brave and new, Good pennyworths but money cannot move, I keep a fair but for the fair to view, A...


Choral Cacophony Podcast Season 2 #4 - Fine Knacks indeed!

If you love Renaissance madrigals, we have a Three Part CC Podcast for you. Starting this week with Part 1, Fine Knacks for Ladies, an English madrigal from the Renaissance will be dissected and refined. This week, specific pronunciation (to overcome singer's individual accents) is reinforced through our favourite method - practise, practise, practise. Our director decided long ago to be true to each song's roots. That's why we work with experts on language pronunciation for all our songs...


Choral Cacophony Podcast Season 2 #3 - Contre Qui Rose Rehearsal

*If you live in the Ottawa region and love The Stairwell Carollers -- and would love to sing in our choir - email us to set up your audition NOW. *This podcast episode shows a typical rehearsal and illustrates how deftly Pierre our director leads us to perform such a subtle and wondrous piece as Contre Qui Rose. **To set up your audition time in the last week of January 2018, email info(at) ** Please DONATE to support our 40th year events ! All Donations receive a...


Choral Cacophony Podcast Season 2 #2 - By Heart

This weeks Choral Cacophony Podcast is a wee lecture from our director Pierre on "getting away from the book". Besides the fact that The Stairwell Carollers are known for connecting with the audience in a way that many choirs don't - we sing to the audience, rather than at them, knowing your music by heart is a great strategy to improve performance and musicality in general. Here is the first page of the sheet music for El Grillo - a fun 15th century Italian madrigal which celebrates the...


Choral Cacophony Podcast Season 2 #1 - New Ear Challenge!

Director, Pierre, warms up the choir with a simple arpeggios then starts some Movable Do work. Your task is to figure out what your part is. Along the way there are some hints! Use this episode to warm up your voice and test your listening skills. Then, guest conductor, Mark Sirett takes over with a direction to bring less sound neutrality with changes in lip position. He also discusses the tendency to slide from Re to Do and the significance of the movable Do hand signs. Book Mark Sirett...


Choral Cacophony Podcast #18 - A Spanish Carol, Deconstructed

As I said in Podcast #16, En El Portal de Belen is a lively and fun Puerto Rican Christmas carol that we have really loved singing for a couple of years now. Yes, you will hear it at our Final concert for the 2017 Christmas season coming up THIS WEDNESDAY - Dec 20th. Our final concert of 2017! Come hear the Stairwell Carollers sing “A Canadian Christmas” WEDNESDAY December 20th at St. Columba Anglican Church 24 Sandridge Rd, , Ottawa, (ON), 7:30pm. The Stairwell Carollers were proud to...


Choral Cacophony Podcast #17 Singing like the Angels

As Pierre always says, vocal strength, power, quality and control is in the diaphragm, not the throat, lungs, vocal chords or some mysterious chest muscles. In this simple exercise, Pierre leads the choir to focus on diaphragm control to release notes gently yet powerfully. To sing like angels ! A concert not to be missed! Come hear the Stairwell Carollers sing “A Canadian Christmas” at Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Lisgar Street, 7:30pm on December 15th. The Stairwell Carollers will...


Choral Cacophony Special Podcastlet Treat!

Why would a novice composer choose such a treacherous path? Why create a new arrangement of one of the most popular and beloved German Christmas carols dating back to the 1600s? Here’s why. It began in the 1960s, when I was a boy chorister with the Christ Church Cathedral choir in Vancouver. Each Christmas we would sing the English version of “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” – “Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming” – and I instantly fell in love with the piece. This classic, timeless arrangement by...


Choral Cacophony Podcast #11 - Warmup, Tongue-Twister Time!

This week's warm-up seems a lot like whitewater rafting - an out of control ride, moving forward. In reality, rafting is about letting go and having control (so you don't lose it, tip or fall in.) So, to our warm up. I've included the start of the first song, Patapan - a popular french carol about the little drummer boy, to show how the warmup is related to the performance of the song. This is a new arrangement by Pierre, performed for the first time last Christmas season. Watch for it on...


Choral Cacophony Podcast #10 - Do you Hear What I Hear? I think you do...

For everyone who is enjoying our podcasts, please be patient as our provider goes through some housecleaning. This may mean some delays in downloads but I am sure it will settle out soon. I have for you an early Christmas treat ! We all love the Xmas favourite "Do you Hear What I Hear?" so our director Pierre decided to do an arrangement for the choir. I thinks it's fantastic and really conveys the feeling and sweetness of the original song. What do you think? PS Last year's concert...