General Questions about the 2023 Concert

Questions about the Performers

Questions about Participating

Questions about the Rehearsals

Questions about the Venue

Questions about the Organizers

General Questions about the 2023 Concert

I’ve heard of “Come Sing Messiah!” – what is this exactly?

This annual event is a chance for all choristers enjoy singing G.F. Handel’s great work, “Messiah”. You don’t need to sing in a choir, you don’t need to come to rehearsals, you don’t need any experience, and you don’t even need to be a talented singer! This activity is open to everyone who wants to give it a try. Basically, this is a “sing-along” Messiah – so come and join the choir!

A 1 ¼ hour rehearsal (slightly shorter than in previous years, but a little longer than last year) is immediately followed by a formal performance (also slightly shorter than in previous years, but longer than last year!).

If you feel you need more rehearsal time, optional rehearsals take place on the two Saturday mornings previous to the event.

Will we be performing the entire work? Which choruses are we singing this year?

No, unfortunately. Given that our evening has to include both a rehearsal and a performance, singing the entire work would take far too long. We select some choruses (the whole of Part I, and a few more), along with a few arias and recitatives for the soloists. And yes, don’t worry, the Hallelujah is always included!

Here are this year’s choruses:

Part I:
And the glory of the Lord
And he shall purify
O thou that tellest
For unto us a Child is born
Glory to God
His yoke is easy

Part II:
Lift up your heads
Hallelujah Part III:
Worthy is the Lamb
Amen

How will the evening unfold this year?

The orchestra and soloists will rehearse with the organist and the conductor in the afternoon.

The doors will open at 6 pm this year; choristers can take their seat in the sanctuary at any time between 6:00 and 6:25. We ask that they remain quiet, as the orchestra rehearsal will still be in progress. As usual choristers will be seated by section, with sopranos, altos, tenors and basses each having own areas, clearly marked.

At 6:30, the evening will start with a short warm-up, followed by a rehearsal of all the choruses. Then, at 7:45, we will have a short stretch break. The washrooms will be in high demand then!

There will be no pizza or coffee available this year. No food or drinks (other than water) is allowed in the concert hall, and there will not be any room available for participants to have a snack. Bring water only, please!

Audience members may arrive at any time, between 6:00 and 8:00. They sit upstairs, in the balcony. The concert will start at 8:00. This is a formal concert; we all hope for the best, for no matter what happens, the conductor just keeps going! (Rest assured that it really goes very well every year). The concert should be over between 9:30 and 9:45. This year (2023), to minimize contacts, there will be no reception after the concert.

How much do the tickets cost, and how do I get one?

Just like last year, tickets will be available online, on the Eventbrite platform. Prices are given on our web site, in our list of forthcoming activities. The link to Eventbrite also appears there. Purchase your ticket early!

A singer’s ticket entitles the bearer to sit on the ground floor of the sanctuary.

An audience ticket entitles the bearer to sit in the balcony of the sanctuary.

Is there a discount for children, students or seniors? Or for CAMMAC members?

CAMMAC members who purchase their tickets early benefit from a special deal.

Other than that, the price is the same for all participants, regardless of age, with one exception: this year, we are issuing a special invitation to students age 12 to 19, who can obtain a very special early bird deal (singers tickets only)! If you are a teenager, or if you know a young person who would like to obtain a free ticket to sing at this event (offer valid only until Wednesday November 29th), but did not get an invitation from their high school teacher or orchestra conductor, please contact us directly.

Will there be tickets at the door, or should I purchase my ticket ahead of time?

Tickets will go on sale in late October. We strongly recommend that you purchase your ticket ahead of time, especially if you wish to have an audience (balcony) ticket, given that we will be selling a limited number of tickets (far fewer that we sold in previous years, except for last year).

If tickets are still available, they will be available at the door. Tickets will be available online until the day of the event, or until they sell out.

May I reserve a seat?

No, sorry, seats cannot be reserved. A very few seats will be marked “reserved”; these are for some volunteers who will be busy until the very last minute.

At what time should I arrive?

If you wish to sing, you will want to arrive before 6:30 pm, in time for the vocal warm-up. The doors will open at 6:00 this year, and the best seats always get taken very quickly! Choristers often line up early.

If you wish to listen to the performance, you can arrive at any time between 6:00 and 8:00; however, in the gallery as well, the best seats get taken fairly quickly! If you want a seat in a fairly central location, and in the front rows, we recommend that you arrive no later than 7:15.

Someone will come to pick me up after the event. At what time does it end?

The concert should be over around 9:30 or 9:45 pm.

Is there an intermission during the performance?

No, there will not be any intermission. There will be a stretch break from 7:45 to 7:55 or so, between the end of the rehearsal and the beginning of the concert. After that, the performance will run through to the end – at around 9:30 or 9:45pm – without an intermission.

What about the post-concert reception?

There will be NO post-concert reception this year.

This is a formal concert, how should I dress?

Dress is casual for the choir and the audience. Do NOT wear your choir’s formal concert outfit, or your church choir’s gown. The conductor, organist, soloists and orchestra do dress up formally, but they are the only ones to do so! Many people wear their Cammac Messiah t-shirt.

It often gets quite warm, regardless of the weather outside, so we recommend that you don’t dress too warmly (or perhaps wear layers you can remove).

May I take pictures?

Yes, feel free to take photographs. A couple of CAMMAC members are expert photographers, and usually take pictures throughout the evening. Some pictures will be available on our web site.

May I tape the concert, or a few minutes from it?

No, recording is forbidden. The musicians in the orchestra belong to the musicians’ union, and are paid at the rate applying to performances that will not be recorded. Therefore, we ask that you refrain from recording even a few seconds of the event.

I would love for my child to have a chance to hear Handel’s Messiah. Are children allowed?

Yes, children are allowed. However, as this is a fairly long evening, it is not recommended for young children who usually don’t enjoy it much and tend to disrupt other concert-goers – the parents first of all.

There are no specially priced tickets for children. Children young enough to sit in a parent’s lap for the entire evening may come in free, but any child who occupies a seat will need his or her own ticket. As this event is often sold-out, please do not be surprised if we ask children occupying a seat to produce their ticket to show they are entitled to it.

For security reasons, we ask you not to park strollers or baby-carriages in the aisles next to the pews.

A good way to expose your children to this wonderful music would be to bring them to one of the Saturday morning rehearsals, at Parkdale United Church. These are free for children under 12.

Another very good option is to bring your child only to the rehearsal, from 6:30 to 7:45 pm. As this is a little less formal than the actual concert, other concert-goers won’t mind as much if your child gets up occasionally or if you talk to the child from time to time to explain to her what is going on.

Are there any COVID protocols in place?

To avoid overcrowding, and to allow for some physical distancing, we will be selling no more than 70% of the seats. We reserve the right to limit these numbers further, depending on the situation, so get your tickets early to avoid disappointment!

Unless the situation changes, masking will be optional. Should the situation require it, we may require all singers to wear a mask. Please watch our general page on the CAMMAC Ottawa-Gatineau web site.

In the unlikely situation where we have to cancel the event, all tickets will be refunded (except for the processing fees).

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Questions about the Performers

Who is the “core choir” for this performance?

Unlike some “sing-along” performances in some other cities, there is no “core” choir here. Every year, local choristers show up to form the choir… and they usually do a very good job indeed! So we don’t feel that a “core” choir is needed.

Who is the conductor?

Louis Lavigueur

The conductor for this event is the well-known Montréal conductor Louis Lavigueur.

Louis Lavigueur is artistic director and conductor of the Montreal Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Ensemble Sinfonia of Montreal, the Ensemble vocal Polymnie de Longueuil and the Choeur Polyphonique de Montréal. He was associate conductor of the orchestra and director of choral activities at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. Teacher, consultant, adjudicator and lecturer, he has taught at Université Laval, Université de Montréal and McGill University, and has conducted choirs and orchestras in Canada and abroad. Mr. Lavigueur has conducted our Come Sing Messiah for more than twenty years!

Who is the organist?

Nick Veltmeyer

The organist this year will be Nick Veltmeyer.

Nick is a multi-talented organist, conductor, singer, and composer who grew up in Nova Scotia. Nick was organ scholar at the University of King’s College where he studied classical literature and sacred music. After graduating in 2017, he was named an Associate of the Royal Canadian College of Organists and Wayne Vance Organ Scholar of St. James Cathedral. He completed an Advanced Certificate in Historical Performance and a Master of Music in voice at the University of Toronto where he was Bevan Organ Scholar of Trinity College and a Junior Fellow of Massey College.

Since January 2022, Nick has been organist and choir director at Dominion-Chalmers United Church, the congregation that still worships in the historic space now called the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre. Nick is therefore very familiar with the impressive Casavant pipe organ of the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre. This organ is one of the largest in Ottawa, and recently benefited from a period of rehabilitation during which its console was modernized and improved.

Who are the soloists?

Our soloists for this event are usually young (or youngish!) professional singers, recent graduates or talented voice students. Soloists are chosen with great care, and we are usually very impressed with their performance!

We are very happy this year to welcome the following soloists:
Irina Medvedeva, soprano;
Amanda Lopez, mezzo-soprano;
Ian Soloman, tenor;
Philip Lukic, bass.

Who is the orchestra?

The orchestra is made up mostly of Ottawa-area professionals, convened by Kevin James, a well-known violinist and violist. Most members of the orchestra play year after year for this event, which means the orchestra is quite experienced and knows what to expect from the conductor.

Who are the choristers?

You! The choristers are music lovers from all over the Ottawa-Gatineau area – and beyond! Most are amateurs, and some are professional musicians. Some have sung Messiah every year for several decades, and barely need to look at their scores; others have only sung some movements, perhaps only the famous “Hallelujah” – and others are opening their brand-new score for the very first time!

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Questions about Participating

I’ve sung Messiah at the NAC in the past – is this going to be too easy for me?

No, don’t worry! If you enjoy singing Messiah, just come and sing with us! If you feel that you know the work very well, feel free to skip the 6:30 pm rehearsal (but good luck getting a seat!)

I’ve never sung Messiah – isn’t this going to be far too difficult for me?

We do encourage newcomers to give it a try! If you’ve never sung this work before, we strongly encourage you to attend our two preparatory rehearsals, on the two Saturday mornings previous to the event. These rehearsals are great fun. We rehearse all the choruses to be performed on the evening of the concert so you get a chance to find your way about. These rehearsals also give you a very good sense of how the movements go, so it’s a lot easier for you to look at the music on your own, at home, should you wish to do so.

On the night of the performance, don’t be shy: sit near the front so that you can easily hear the rest of the section behind you. It also helps to sit next to an experienced chorister (look for someone with a well-worn score.) Don’t worry if you can’t sing all the notes! Sing whatever you can, and enjoy the great feeling of being part of the fantastic sound of hundreds of people singing together!

If you want to practice on your own before the performance, see below for online rehearsal tools.

I would like to sing, but I don’t have a score.

Scores will be available for sale at the two Saturday morning rehearsals previous to the event, as well as on December 1st.

You may also purchase your score ahead of time. Scores may be available at the following locations, but we recommend you call ahead:
Long & McQuade (1193 Hunt Club Road),
Granata Music (1568 Merivale near Meadowlands),
Book Bazaar (417 Bank at Frank).

Which edition of the score am I supposed to have?

Any edition will do, as long as the text is in English! Just bring whichever one you have. Don’t purchase another copy if you have one already. The conductor will not use page numbers, only bar numbers, so any edition works.

If you don’t have a score, and wish to purchase one, a very popular edition is the “New” Novello choral edition, edited by Watkins Shaw. At 28 cm tall, this is a nice, large, easy-to-read edition. (The cover is orange and white). And at under $20 it is quite inexpensive!

Should I bring a music stand?

A music stand is not recommended. As the choir is seated, there is really no room at all for music stands. Keep in mind, however, that the chorus movements alternate with solo movements, during which choristers get a chance to sit and rest their arms for a little while.

Should I bring a black folder to put my music in?

There’s no need to bring a folder – unless you plan to bring a clip-on book-light, in which case a rigid folder is very useful to hold the light. Some people find that a folder is more comfortable to hold, but most people don’t bother, since we’re not facing an audience.

I would like to sing a solo.

Please contact a member of the organizing committee several months ahead of time if you would like to sing a solo in NEXT year’s performance. Contact information will be found elsewhere on the CAMMAC Ottawa-Gatineau web site.

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Questions about the Rehearsals

When and where do the rehearsals take place?

The rehearsals take place on the TWO Saturday mornings previous to the event, at Parkdale United Church, 429 Parkdale, corner of Gladstone (between Wellington and the Queensway) (directions are here). They start at 10:00 will finish around 12:00 noon. Doors open at 9:30.

There is a decent-size parking lot north of the church; the entrance is on Parkdale, north of the church. This year, we do not have access to the tiny parking lot on the south side, on Gladstone. However, the accessible entrance opens on this south parking lot.

OC Transpo bus # 14 runs on Gladstone and comes to Parkdale. Bus # 2 runs on Wellington, which is less than a block away.

In addition, the O-Train Tunney’s Pasture Station (Line1, Confederation Line) is only about 1,2 km away (a 17-minute walk).

No refreshments will be served at this year’s rehearsal (2023). Much as we enjoy sharing our tea, coffee and cookies, we’re trying to cut down on anything that can increase transmission of any nasty viruses.

How much do the tickets cost?

The rehearsal fees appear on our web site, in our list of forthcoming activities.

Just like the tickets for the evening of the concert, tickets will be available via EventBrite.

There is a special price for CAMMAC members who purchase their ticket early.

Which language will be used in the rehearsal?

Most of the rehearsal will be conducted in English, but questions in French will be welcome. We try to present all announcements in both languages.

Are there rehearsal tools online?

Yes, several rehearsal tools are available online. Here is one option, available free of charge: http://www.cyberbass.com/Major_Works/Handel_GF/Handel_Messiah.htm

You might also wish to try https://aarongiles.com/old/wp/2016/11/messiah-rehearsal-tracks/ 

or https://johnfletchermusic.org/handelgf-messiah/.

Another option is to go on YouTube, and search for Messiah rehearsal aid, or Messiah practice tracks. Some good ones are from Chord Perfect and ChoirParts.

Note: remember that we don’t sing all choruses, as the selection varies from year to year. However, you can be sure we’ll be singing all the choruses from Part I, as well as the Hallelujah, and the last chorus, including the final Amen. To check this year’s list, see above.

Who leads the rehearsals?

We are very happy to announce that the conductor for this year’s rehearsals will be Deirdre Kellerman.

Choral conductor and vocal coach Deirdre Kellerman conducts Tone Cluster – quite a queer choir. Previous conducting positions include Artistic Director of Hypatia’s Voice, conductor and pianist with the Ottawa Children’s Choir, Assistant Director of the Ottawa Choral Society and Director of Music at First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, where she conducted their three choral ensembles.

Since settling in Ottawa in 2015, Deirdre has become a regular fixture in the area’s choral community. As a workshop facilitator and guest conductor, she has worked with the Cantata Singers of Ottawa, Ottawa Gay Men’s Chorus, Canadian Centennial Choir, Aella, and CAMMAC.

Originally from Nova Scotia, Deirdre has studied across North America, including a residency at the Banff Centre’s Choral Art program. She was nominated for the 2018 Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting. An avid chorister, Deirdre has sung with a wide variety of ensembles, including Xara Choral Theatre, and the National Youth Choir of Canada. Deirdre holds a M.Mus in Conducting (New England Conservatory) and a B.Mus in Vocal Performance (Acadia University).

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Questions about the Venue

Where does this event take place?

The evening concert (like the 6:30 pm rehearsal) takes place at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, at 355 Cooper, corner of O’Connor, in downtown Ottawa. (directions are here)

Participants who already have a ticket (either on their smartphone, or printed) are asked to come in through the main doors, on O’Connor. Participants who do not have a ticket in hand, or who will be picking up their ticket, as well as volunteers, are asked to come to the side door opening from the parking on Lisgar Street. This parking lot entrance is also wheelchair-accessible.

Please note that the Saturday morning rehearsals take place at Parkdale United Church on Parkdale, not at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre.

Is the venue wheelchair-accessible?

Yes. The ground floor, where the choir sits, is wheelchair accessible. Please come in through the door opening from the parking lot on Lisgar Street.

The balcony is relatively accessible via the elevator at the parking lot entrance, on Lisgar. However, to get to the seated area of the balcony there are steps at both entrance doors at either end of the corridor there, which is a problem for wheelchairs unless people can get out and walk down a couple of steps.

If you have any mobility issues, do please contact us ahead of time, so that we can reserve a suitable spot for you (and a person who may be accompanying you). Audience members with mobility issues may purchase a singer’s ticket and sit on the ground floor, near the side or at the back. (Don’t worry, we won’t force you to sing).

Are there washrooms?

Yes, there are washrooms at the Centre; however, as there are many people present, expect some line-ups… please be patient!

Is there parking available?

The Centre parking lot usually fills up early. However, there is parking on nearby streets. There is also a public parking lot on Lisgar, right across the street, and there are other public parking lots in the area.

Which bus should I take?

Several OC Transpo buses run nearby, either on Bank Street or on Elgin Street, both within walking distance.

Parliament Station, on the O-Train Confederation Line (Line 1), at the corner of Queen and O’Connor streets, is only about 600 meters away (an 8-min walk).

Can I purchase food on site?

No, this year (2023), no food will be offered. We do not encourage participants to bring snacks, as there will be no place for people to eat, except outside (this year, we will not have access to Woodside Hall). We ask that you do not eat or drink anything in the concert hall which is a carpeted space. Bring water only, please!

What shall I do with my coat and boots?

Coat-racks are available in the front vestibule (opening on O’Connor street). This area is not secure, however; we ask that you do not leave items of value (such as car keys or money) in your coats. Neither CAMMAC nor Carleton University will be held responsible for lost or stolen articles.

Is there a secure space for singers to leave their purses and other belongings during the performance?

No, there isn’t. We strongly recommend that you keep your purse and any other valuables with you during the entire evening.

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Questions about the Organizers

Who is organizing this event?

Come Sing Messiah! is organized by CAMMAC (Canadian Amateur Musicians – Musiciens amateurs du Canada). For more information on CAMMAC, on the other activities we organize (both in Ottawa-Gatineau, and in other regions of Canada), and on its music centre, please visit other areas of our web site.

Why is CAMMAC organizing this event?

CAMMAC’s mission is to encourage everybody, regardless of experience or ability, to enjoy making music together. There are few works more universally beloved than Handel’s Messiah which, for a number of people (especially in the Anglo-Saxon tradition), is a part of the Christmas or holidays season. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to sing in a choir – and not all choirs choose to perform this work every year! And just putting on a recording simply isn’t the same as singing the work yourself.

So, basically, we organize this evening so that Ottawa area musicians have a chance to sing Handel’s Messiah… just for the fun of it!

For how long has CAMMAC been organizing this event?

Come Sing Messiah! was first publicly performed in Ottawa in 1977 under the auspices of the Music Department of Carleton University. It was the brainchild of Professor John Churchill, the distinguished English musician and educator. During its first 12 years – until 1988 – the event took place at the Glebe Community Centre. By then it had outgrown space at the Centre and was moved to what was then Dominion-Chalmers United Church with its large seating capacity and excellent organ. It was also around this time that CAMMAC took over the organization from Carleton University.

Louis Lavigueur from Montreal, well known to CAMMAC as a dynamic leader, has been conductor since 1991. A professional chamber orchestra, with Kevin James as concertmaster, has given support since 1992 to the many choristers who come every year to sing, mostly for their own pleasure, but also for an enthusiastic audience in the balcony.

In past years, we often had as many as 750 choristers (a VERY impressive sight!) and 300 audience members; however, due to some reconfiguration of the various seating areas, and for health and safety reasons, it is no longer possible to sit that many people in the hall. Many up-and-coming young artists have had the opportunity and enjoyment of singing solo parts in this wonderful tradition in Ottawa, which has given so much pleasure to very many people.

Long may this tradition continue!

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