Fall Choral Workshop presents Family Christmas Concert for CHEO

Members of this year’s Fall Choral Workshop, an educational program for amateur choral singers to advance their musicianship. PHOTO: COURTESY OF R. GRAHAM

By Roland Graham

Participants of the 2018 Fall Choral Workshop taught by musician, teacher and impresario Roland Graham will perform Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria in Excelsis” as part of a CHEO-fundraising Family Christmas Concert at Southminster United Church at Bank Street and the Rideau Canal on Sunday, December 16 at 2 p.m.

The Fall Choral Workshop is an educational program for amateur choral singers seeking to advance their musicianship. The 2018 group consists of 45 non-auditioned participants from all over Ottawa, possessing a range of abilities and levels of experience. Together over the past 12 weeks they have learned Vivaldi’s challenging choral score, along with a few other gems such as Handel’s famous “Hallelujah Chorus,” Rutter’s “What Sweeter Music” and works by Graham and others that they are looking forward to presenting to the community in this family-oriented pre-Christmas musical offering.

The Fall Choral Workshop Choir will be supported by a professional chamber orchestra of strings, winds, brass and organ, featuring some of Ottawa’s finest ensemble musicians. Acclaimed singers Maghan McPhee and Isabelle Lacroix will interpret the beautiful solo movements interspersing the choruses of Vivaldi’s rousing score.

As a special bonus, the instrumentalists will additionally present J. S. Bach’s iconic Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, featuring soloists, flautist Dakota Martin, violinist Adam Nelson and harpsichordist Roland Graham.

Following the 90-minute concert (which includes intermission), Panago Pizza will host a reception for kids and families to have a snack before heading home.

Tickets for the concert are $25 for general admission; $5 for children 16 and under; $15 for students (up to age 24); and $50 for families consisting of up to two adults and up to four children. They can be purchased in advance, through Eventbrite.ca (search “FCW Concert” in Ottawa), and at the door. Five dollars from every ticket sold, along with general proceeds from the concert, will be donated to the CHEO Foundation that supports the work of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

As anyone who has or knows a sick child can attest, CHEO is one of greatest organizations in the city of Ottawa, and FCW participants are keen to take this opportunity for our music making to give something back to the community.

Join us December 16 for a moving and accessible afternoon of beautiful music that is sure to leave you dancing in your seats!

Roland Graham is artistic director of the Concerts by the Canal series and the Doors Open for Music Wednesday noon series taking place at Southminster United Church.

St. Matthew’s Pageant on Christmas Eve

The youth and children of St. Matthew’s will present a Nativity Play during the Christmas Eve service on Monday, December 24 at 5 p.m., a longstanding tradition at St. Matthew’s. This was the scene last year. PHOTO: IAN GLEN

By Margret B. Nankivell

The youth and children of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in the Glebe are presenting the Nativity Play on Christmas Eve. The pageant, which tells the story of the birth of Christ, will be presented within the Christmas Eve Sung Eucharist on Monday, December 24 at 5 p.m. It is a longstanding tradition at St. Matthew’s, much loved by all ages.

The pageant is directed by Erin MacDonald with the assistance of St. Matthew’s youth and children coordinator Aïcha Ducharme-Leblanc. The cast includes actors and dancers from St. Matthew’s youth group and Sunday school classes. Appropriately, the St. Matthew’s Children’s Choirs will be the Angelic Host directed by Kirkland Adsett.

Erin MacDonald is an arts educator- performer-stage manager-director. She received a diploma in theatre arts from Algonquin College in 2013 and has since worked as a theatre professional. She works primarily in arts education, teaching theatre to students of all ages at the Ottawa School of Theatre. Her work in stage management as front-of-house manager for the Rag and Bone Puppet Theatre earned her a Prix Rideau award nomination in 2014.

Erin loves working with children because they are willing to take risks and try new things. “Children can take on a lot more than we sometimes think they can,” she says. “I think the performing arts really give them the opportunity to shine. Theatre fosters skills for life.”

Young people from the youth group and older children from the Sunday school classes will take on speaking roles and narration. Younger children will reenact the roles of Caesar Augustus, the innkeeper’s family, Mary, Joseph, shepherds and animals. The procession will also include a dance of angels.

Kirkland Adsett has selected elegant music for the presentation, including “The Sussex Carol,” a Basque song about angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary, and John Rutter’s lovely “Carol of the Children.” The text of this piece encapsulates the entire story, says Kirk.

Also included will be George Dyson’s “Magnificat,” also known as the “Song of Mary.” Starting “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” this hymn is sung at evensong services.

The music for the dance sequence will be “Angelus ad Virginem,” a truly beautiful medieval carol. The Christmas pageant or nativity play has been performed in Christian churches since the middle ages.

St. Matthew’s will also have a beautiful candlelit service at 11 p.m. Christmas Eve to welcome in Christmas Day, as well as a Eucharist service at 10 a.m. on Christmas. For information call 613-234-4024 or visit www. stmatthewsottawa.ca. The church is at 130 Glebe Avenue, near Bank. No tickets are required for the pageant and other services.

Margret B. Nankivell is a long-time St. Matthew’s parishioner and regular contributor on music to the Glebe Report.

Glebe singers join choir that’s still singing in a humanitarian key!

The Stairwell Carollers invite you to their December 15 concert, “An a capella Christmas,” at Southminster church, 7:30 p.m. PHOTO: COURTESY OF STAIRWELL CAROLLERS

By David Rain

The award-winning a capella choir, the Stairwell Carollers, invite you to their December 15 concert “An a capella Christmas” in celebration of their 41st season.

And the Glebe connection continues: three former Glebe Collegiate choir members, Katie Stewart, Suzanna Barrett and Alex Deveau, have joined the Carollers for our return performance at Southminster United Church, just across the Canal from the Glebe. All three successfully auditioned for the choir after having performed a joint concert back in May. They are excited to be singing this December and join fellow Glebe graduate Graham McElligott, a longtime Caroller in the tenor section.

Our director Pierre Massie, a retired Glebe Collegiate music teacher, has mentored more than a dozen Glebe students who have sung with the Carollers over the years. Pierre has prepared a special program this season. “As we enter our 41st year of singing, I felt it would be nice to return to a more traditional repertoire, bringing back tried and true arrangements of some of our most familiar carols.”

In addition, the choir will be singing three new songs composed by current choir members: Pierre’s fresh arrangement of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” my own setting of the medieval song “In natali Domini” and our rollicking concert finale, “Sans Day Carol” by Terry Brynaert.

The Carollers are pleased to be presenting a $2,000 donation to Harmony House women’s shelter at this December 15 concert. “We want to say thank you to the choir for their ongoing support and their commitment to assisting Harmony House in ending violence against women,” says program manager Lee-Anne Lee. This is the group’s second donation to Harmony House, the first being in 2001.

Come hear a capella singing at its finest: The Stairwell Carollers, “An a capella Christmas,” at Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Avenue at Bank Street, Saturday, December 15, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 at the door, $15 in advance at Compact Music, 206 & 785 1/2 Bank, or online at www.stairwellcarollers.com.

And, if you’re looking for that perfect Christmas gift, the choir’s CDs will be on sale too. Proceeds from tickets, CDs and product sales are used to help local organizations. Since 1997 the choir has donated over $142,000 to local charities and scholarships.

Hope to see you there on December 15th!

If you can’t make it to Southminster, you can still hear the Stairwell Carollers on December 19 at St Columba Anglican Church, 24 Sandridge Road, 7:30 p.m.

David Rain, who enjoys running through the Glebe and environs from time to time, is in his 26th year with the choir. For more information, please visit www.stairwellcarollers.com.

Chilean musicians tenor Álvaro Zambrano and pianist Felipe Verdugo will present an intimate evening of songs and opera arias on December 14 at Southminster church as part of the Concerts by the Canal series. PHOTO: COURTESY OF UPBEAT

Acclaimed Chilean duo at Southminster

By Roland Graham

Concerts by the Canal continues its 2018 – 2019 season with an intimate evening of songs and opera arias inspired by “human communion” on Friday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Tenor Álvaro Zambrano and pianist Felipe Verdugo are returning to the Southminster stage following an appearance in the church’s popular noon-hour series in 2016. They have managed to find time for an Ottawa visit amid appearances on both sides of the Atlantic.

Zambrano, who is originally from Chile and is now based in Berlin, (www.alvarozambranotenor.com) has performed in prestigious halls across Europe and the Americas, collaborating with top musicians from the international scene, in recital, chamber music and opera. From 2012 to 2016, he was a member of the Ensemble at the Deutsche Oper, singing numerous roles in the company’s frequent productions.

Verdugo, also from Chile, pursues a versatile career as a soloist, collaborative pianist, teacher and researcher. He performed as a soloist with the Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal while studying at the university and has lectured at the London International Piano Symposium in the UK, among other professional distinctions.

Their December concert in Ottawa envisions a sharing of profound thoughts and feelings ranging from the most personal and introspective to the extroverted and fervent. The program begins with a familiar set of English songs including Aaron Copland’s setting of the classic spiritual Steal away to Jesus, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Silent noon.

Following a piano interlude by Debussy – the elegant and sensual La soirée dans Grenade from Debussy’s Estampes – the duo will present Lorenzo Palomo’s (b. 1938) song-cycle Una Primavera Andaluza (An Andalusian Spring), a ravishing setting of six poems by Nobel Prize-winning Spanish author Juan Ramón Jiménez.

A set of Christmas songs, including Adolphe Adam’s iconic O Holy Night will come next, followed by a second piano interlude, Liszt’s arrangement of Wagner’s Isoldes Liebestod (Isolde’s Love-death), from Wagner’s masterpiece, Tristan und Isolde.

The program will finish with a set of famous opera arias by Donizetti, Puccini and others, for a rousing conclusion to a wholly original and provocative pre-Christmas presentation.

Fans of the classical voice, opera – and indeed the piano – will not want to miss this special offering by a world class duo, in Ottawa for this single night only.

For more information and to obtain tickets, visit upbeatproductions.ca.

Roland Graham is artistic director of the Concerts by the Canal series of music concerts held at Southminster United Church.

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