Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Choir's new season is starting!

The Ottawa Celtic Choir is about to start it's next season on September 4th, and it's shaping up to be a great one!  The choir will be performing with two guest choirs this year, the Montreal Welsh Men's Choir in December, and ar n-Oran, Ottawa's Scots Gaelic choir.  As we're always looking for new members, if you'd like to be a part of this year's season, contact the director, Ellen MacIsaac.

Rehearsals: Tuesdays, 7pm to 9pm
Location: St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Somerset and Elgin
Start: September 4th, 2012
Contact: Ellen MacIsaac,, 613-552-3964.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Working on some new songs for the choir...

I gave the choir the summer off so that I could have some time to score new music!  The inspiration for the pieces came from far and wide, and while some of them are more faithful to the originals than others, all the versions I worked on are geared for the singers in the Ottawa Celtic Choir.

First up:
"Taim i mo Shui", by Cor Thaobh a' Leithid.  This is a choir made up entirely of Irish traditional singers from the parish of Gaoth Dobhair (Gweedore) in Co. Donegal, each of them a well-known singer in their own right, who have gotten together to make what is best thought of as a sean-nos choir.  Led by Dominic Mac Giolla Bhride, they have been making waves these past few years with their renditions of Irish-language traditional songs.

Suantrai na Slaneatheoir.  [edit]  Here's a song by Sean Og O Tuama and Rionach Ui Chuill, it's a lullaby to the Christ Child.  Very Christmas.

Loch Lomond.   Who doesn't know this song?  One of countless songs of loss and exile from the Celtic countries, the speaker in this song says he'll make it home to Loch Lomond faster by dying than by taking the "high road" of life.  Good to have in our back pockets for Robbie Burns' celebrations.

Mo Ghile Mear.  I got pointed to Micheal O Suilleabhain's arrangement of this from our dear friends in the Cois Claddagh Chamber Choir.  An Irish traditional song whose title means "The Gallant Boy", it is a vision song wherein the Goddess Eire laments Bonnie Prince Charlie's loss at the Battle of Culloden.  It's a bookend to the Skye Boat Song, which we already sing.

Nos Galan (Deck the Halls).  Everybody knows this song, but most don't know that it's actually a traditional Welsh New Year's Eve carol, that says "Cold is the man who doesn't love the mountains of Wales, and cold is he who will not get together with friends to ring in the New Year".

My Love is Like a Red Red Rose.  We heard the Near North Voices Choir perform this at our February concert, and backstage, the choir came to me and whispered that they'd like to take a crack at it.  My choir has great taste!

Ambell y Gan.  Keen to get more Welsh in the choir's diet repertoire, I sent away to Cerdd Y Stwyth in Aberystwyth, Wales, for some Welsh sheet music.  I selected a book of folksongs, and this was song #1.  It means "A song now and then", and really sums up the underlying philosophy of the choir: a song now and then helps you keep your head above water, makes heavy burdens lighter, and helps you cope with whatever life throws at you.  Great sentiment!

In progress: 
Tha Mo Ghaol Air Aird A' Chuain.  My husband and I went to see Pixar/Disney's Brave at the theaters this summer, and of all the songs in the movie, this is the one that stuck with me the most.  It plays during the end credits.  And lucky for me, it's a traditional song, and not proprietary to Disney!  This song is known in English as "Jaime's on the Stormy Sea".  And Julie Fowlis does a superb job here.

A Fore Dydd Nadolig,  (starts at 4:34)  a medieval Welsh Carol, also from the little book of Welsh folksongs I picked up.  The melody is incredible, captivating and unpredictable.  We'll see if the choir agrees with me!

Oran nam Mogaisean.  Collected by Margaret Bennett in the Codroy Valley in Newfoundland in the 1970s, the composer was practically next-door neighbours to my grandmother's people.  The song tells a humorous story of a man attempting to make moccasins in the manner of the First Nations, and failing so badly that the sight of them sends the parisioners into fits of giggles that disrupts the sermon when he wears them to church on Sunday.  This particular version is by Rory Campbell of Old Blind Dogs.