RCCO Ottawa Centre
CRCO Section d'Ottawa

PO Box 2270 Station D
Ottawa ON K1P 5W4
2010-2011 SEASON

This year there will be 6 special Educational Events provided by the Education convenor plus our regular Centre events provided by the programme convenor.


Our regular program events are shown in BLACK type.

Details of programmes will be posted and updated as they become available.


Every few years, the Ottawa Centre of the RCCO offers a series of events with a particularly educational orientation during the year. This has replaced the more intensive course entitled Tools and Techniques for Church Musicians which we offered in the 1980's and early 1990's on six successive Tuesday evenings in May and June. The time commitment for that course seemed to be too heavy for many of our members, and so we have moved to spacing educational events out during the year. In any given year, there are always one or more purely educational meetings for our membership, but in 2010-11, there will be six such workshops

Please put these dates aside now, and plan to attend in order to increase your organ-playing and choir-directing skills. Although there will be a charge for non-members to attend these workshops, the Centre's members are of course invited to attend without charge.

Educational workshop events are shown with a green title as above, and green bar down the side as in this text.

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St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church Courtyard
82 Kent at Wellington
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Time: 3:00 pm

With summer almost behind us we will gather for a barbecue and corn boil in the courtyard in the Courtyard at St. Andrew Church. In addition to celebrating the new College year, welcoming new members and re acquainting with other members, we will celebrate the installation of our colleague Gilles Leclerc as the national President of the RCCO. We will also hear from members who traveled to various organ conferences and events during the summer break. Spouses and partners are invited and children too! Please bring a dessert or salad; the mixed grill and corn will be provided by the Centre.

There is plenty of parking on Kent and Wellington Streets near the church as well as at the Supreme Court just across the street from the church. The courtyard is accessed from Wellington Street on the west side of the church.

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Organ Crawl to OKA

to visit a number of Historically significant instruments

Saturday, October 2, 2010
Leaving Ottawa at 8:30 am

The Laurentides region of Quebec is home to a variety of historically important instruments. Arrangements are currently being made to visit: Église Sainte-Thérèse d’Avila, Blainville; Église abbatiale Notre-Dame-du-Lac, Oka; Église de l’Annonciation: Oka; Église St-Eustache. We will also have a lovely late lunch at one of the many fine eating establishments in the area.

If you are interested in joining us for the visit, please contact Ian MacKay as soon as possible so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Tentative plans are to leave Ottawa at 8:30 am to arrive in the region by about 10:00.

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Conducting from the Console

Frances Macdonnell

St. Stephen's Anglican Church
930 Watson Street
(off Pinecrest)
Sat, October 23, 2010
Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 noon

Free to members and $10 for non-members

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Woodroffe United Church
207 Woodroffe, between Carling Ave. and Richmond Rd
Friday, October 29, 2010
Time: 7:00 pm

Our Annual Halloween Event will be a collaboration with students from Canterbury High School featuring organ music, dance, dramatic readings and audience participation. The event promises to be family friendly so pass the word to your own families, your neighbors and friends and don't forget to dress up. Proceeds go to the Scholarship fund.

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We can All Improvise!

Mervyn Games

Knox Presbyterian Church
(Corner of Elgin and Lisgar)
Sat, November 27, 2010
Time: 10 am - noon

Please enter by door at 120 Lisgar. (the door with the doorbell)
Free to members and $10 for non-members

Mervyn Games, FRCO, Organist and Choir Director of Knox Presbyterian Church, will present a workshop entitled “We Can All Improvise!”

Mervyn is a lifelong proponent of the belief that every organist can learn to improvise, and that it is simply a matter of trying, no matter how scared you are! Come and give it a try with Mervyn; everybody will get a chance to try improvising (though nobody will have to try if they don't want to!)

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Heart and Crown
67 Clarence St (Byward Market)
Monday, November 29, 2010
Time: 6:00pm

Advent, Christmas and Epiphany are just around the corner, not to mention getting your own house and family I order for the holidays. So to help you brace yourself for the season, you need a night out at the pub with your organ and church music colleagues... Introducing:

RCCO Pub Night

Monday, November 29, 2010

Heart and Crown
67 Clarence Street
Byward Market
Downtown Ottawa

Come for a traditional pub dinner with a pint of your favorite brew (or soft drink or even tea if you prefer) and watch some great organ DVDs, YouTube videos of organs, organists, good music and bad music, and of course, preacher bloopers...all in the comfort of a private dining room with audio-visual facilities away from the hustle and bustle of the Monday football down the hall.

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Choir, Organ and Brass

St. François d'Assise
Fairmont at Wellington (East of Parkdale)
Monday December 20, 8:00 pm
Suggested Free-will offering $10 - $20

Join us for a concert of Christmas music for organ and brass and congregational participation.

Featuring organists: Karen Holmes, Donald Marjerrison, Alison Kranias, Gilles Leclerc, Deirdre Piper and Cathedral Brass.

Works by: Gabrieli, Frescobaldi, Zipoli, Yon, Victoria, Piper, Palestrina etc. & organ improvisation on Latin Hymns for Christmas.

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Exploring RCCO Examinations

an introduction to the new syllabi

presented by Gordon Johnston

St John the Evangelist Church
(Elgin at Somerset)
Tuesday, Feb 8, 2011

Have you ever considered taking an RCCO exam? The RCCO examinations are at the center of the College's effort to promote high standards of organ playing and church music. For students, the exams are an excellent way to hone basic and advanced technique and consolidating skill as an organist and church musician.

This year marks the start of a new examination cycle with new syllabi which will be valid for three years. This event will introduce the syllabi and how to prepare and work toward an exam. It would be great to see a handful or more of members spend the next year (or years) working toward one of the exams and this event can serve to kick start that effort.

At this workshop, Gordon Johnston, a long time member of the national examinations committee, will:

  • give a detailed overview of the syllabus,
  • offer advice on choosing repertoire,
  • recommend strategies for preparing for the different components of the exams, and
  • suggest ways to avoid common pitfalls.

Although some members have already expressed an interest in attending this workshop, the event is open to any member who might be considering taking an exam at some point in the future. The RCCO exam scheme is an excellent way to advance your learning either as a student or an experienced player. I have spoken to a number of members over the last few months that have expressed an interest in the exams but were a bit worried about what they might be getting into. Gordon will be happy to allay any fears, demystify the process and set you on a path to RCCO certification. Plan to attend.

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The Joy of Hymn-Playing

Wesley Warren

St. Barnabas Anglican Church
(Kent at James St)
Sat, February 26, 2011
Time: 1:00 - 3:00 pm
Free to members and $10 for non-members

This workshop will take place in the Organ Gallery of St. Barnabas Church. Wesley will speak about the fundamentals of hymn-playing: registration (reflecting the mood of the text), phrasing with the text, tempo and style, variations and reharmonizations.

Wesley invites participants to prepare two hymns of their own choice from their own hymn-book - a simple introduction and two verses each - but at the same time, participants don't have to play if they prefer simply to listen! If there is time, Wesley will also discuss the choosing of hymns, adapting pianistic accompaniments to the organ, and improvising introductions, interludes, or a short postlude.

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St Andrew's Presbyterian Church
(Wellington and Kent)
Sunday Feb 27, 2011
7:30 pm

Come and hear our students in recital.

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The Art of Service-Playing

William Wright (Toronto)

Paroisse St-François
(Wellington at Fairmont)
Sat, March 26, 2011
Time: 1:00 - 3:00 pm
Free to members and $10 for non-members

Please sit in the organ gallery

William Wright retired in 2009 from Deer Park United Church, Toronto, where he had been Director of Music since 1965; he also taught at the University of Toronto and at the Toronto School of Theology. We are privileged to be able to hear William describe his lifetime of work as a church musician, including some of his experiences in working with the clergy. Within the context of service-playing in general, he will talk particularly about hymn-playing and improvisation. For those interested in further developing their skills, he will have with him copies of a text he has written, which teaches students to be able to harmonize a chorale melody, play a simple figured bass, or improvise a short modulation.

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Dominion Chalmers United Church
(Cooper and O'Connor)
Saturday April 2, 2011
9:00 am to noon

Although this is not one of our events, we do encourage our members to come and hear our students in the Festival. The adjudicator this year is Rachel Laurin.

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The Glory of Psalms: Psalm 119

Cranmer Singers - guest choir

St. Barnabas Anglican Church
(Kent St at James St)
Sat, April 9, 2011
Time: 2:00 - 3:30 pm
Free to members and $10 for non-members

The Cranmer Singers, directed by Frances Macdonnell, will sing the complete 176 verses of Psalm 119. Divided into twenty-two equal parts of eight verses each, this psalm is particularly suited to the Lenten season, and it is possible that it may not have been sung in its entirety in Canada for a very long time, if ever! Singing primarily Anglican chant to the words of the Book of Common Prayer, the choir will change the chant at least once during each of the twenty-two parts, illustrating the dramatic nature of the Psalms. Father Stewart Murray, Rector of the Church of St. Barnabas, Apostle and Martyr, will give a talk on the history of the use of the Psalms in worship.

Please print the poster for this event and post it at your church or other suitable location.

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Organist- Clergy Dinner

Guest Speaker: Gilles Leclerc - National President

The Rose Bowl Restaurant
1717 Carling Ave
(West of Clyde on the North side)
Monday, May 2, 2011
Time: 6:15 pm

This is a wonderful opportunity to socialize in a relaxed atmosphere with your clergy and colleagues. Our speaker this year will be our National President, Gilles Leclerc. Gilles has been a long time member of this centre and we look forward to hearing his views on the national organization.


Salad, choice of dressing
Dinner: (chosen at the restaurant)
Prime Rib, Chicken Marsala or Salmon with lemon butter
Strawberry Shortcake

Cost: $35.00 (subsidized)

Please reserve by April 22nd. Send cheques payable to RCCO, Ottawa Centre to:

Suzanne Wilson-Marjerrison
476 Evered Avenue
Ottawa ON K1Z 5K8

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How to Love Sight-reading

Karen Holmes

St. Peter's Lutheran Church
(Sparks at Bay St.)
Sat, May 14, 2011
Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 noon
Free to members and $10 for non-members

Here's what Karen Holmes has to say about this:

I really do love sightreading! Sometimes I sit down to read through one Bach Prelude, or one Haydn Sonata - and instead I read through the whole book. Then I can say I had no time to practise my Postlude, or wash the dishes, or whatever I didn't want to do anyway! It's also great fun to go through newly-published material in search of gems.

The best way to learn to sightread is to do a lot of it, but if you want to become good at it before you are eighty years old, I can suggest some good ways of working at it - and of teaching sightreading to students. The workshop will include hints and demonstrations, and some useful material will be recommended.

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Organ Compositions by Rachel Laurin

Knox Preasbyterian Church
(Elgin at Lisgar)
Monday, May 30, 2011
Time 7:30 pm

Free to members
Non members: $10.

This is an event to hear and celebrate organ works of our colleague composer Rachel Laurin. Rachel spends much her time composing these days both for organ and other instruments and there is much to explore. Her works are being heard around the world now at concerts and recitals and this is an opportunity to hear her speak about her life and work as a composer and to hear a range of her works performed by her and others.

You can watch Isabelle Demers perform Rachel Laurin's Ëtude Hëroïque played on Casavant Opus 869, Church of St Anges, Montreal.

More information on Rachel's organ works appears under the General Information section of this website.

Please download the poster for this event and place then in prominent places such as your church.

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St Peter's Lutheran Church
(Sparks at Bay St.)
Monday, June 13, 2011
Refreshments 7:00
Meeting 7:30

This is your centre. The executive values the feedback received from members. Come out and voice your opinions on what you would like to have your Centre do.

The Annual General Meeting of the Ottawa Centre is our opportunity to conduct the necessary business of the College but also to celebrate the year past and look forward to the coming year. All members are encouraged to attend and participate in decision making and to hear reports of the various convenors and national council representatives. In addition to the regular meeting this year, we are planning to incorporate a short but fun “Organ Jeopardy” segment where two teams comprising members of the executive will be put on the spot by other centre members with organ related questions. Plan to attend the meeting and come along for the trivia fun.

The RCCO Ottawa Centre recognizes one of its members each year with a plaque to express our gratitude for their services and dedication to the RCCO and in particular the Ottawa Centre. This year we are pleased to recognize Frances Macdonnell as “Member of the Year” for her past and continuing contribution to our Centre. A plaque will be presented to her at the AGM this June.

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Frances Macdonnell

Frances Macdonnell's organ teachers were Godfrey Hewitt and Ralph Downes. She succeeded Dr. Hewitt in 1980 as Organist and Choir Director of Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa. Demonstrating her interest in Canadian music, she took the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys on tour to many isolated parts of Canada, including the Western Arctic, Newfoundland, Alberta and B.C., and the Maritime Provinces. Each of these ten-day tours featured presentations of music in the languages of Canada’s aboriginal First Nations.

In 2000 she visited St. Jude’s Cathedral, Iqaluit, Nunavut, to give the opening recital on the first electronic organ with full pedalboard in the Eastern Arctic. She also gave several workshops for Inuit church musicians.

In 1982, she founded the annual Three Cathedrals Festival, bringing together the men-and-boys’ choirs of the Cathedrals in Kingston, Montreal, and Ottawa. In 1990, she organized a Massed Diocesan Choir for the Diocese of Ottawa, which brought together choirs from parish churches annually to sing Evensong in the Cathedral. In 1996 she organized the first-ever National Anglican Choir, bringing together 150 singers from almost every Cathedral in Canada for four days of music-making at Christ Church Cathedral.

She has been active in the Royal Canadian College of Organists since 1963: she was Chair of the Ottawa Centre, Chair of the National Education Committee, and Chair of the National Examinations Committee. She has been a member of the College’s National Council since 1981. In 2005, she was awarded a Fellowship (honoris causa) by the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

After Godfrey Hewitt’s death in 2002, Frances Macdonnell established and continues to manage a scholarship fund in his name which now provides an annual scholarship of $5,000 to a Canadian graduate student studying organ performance, and a bi-annual Grand Prize of $5,000 at the RCCO’s National Organ- Playing Competition.

Frances Macdonnell retired from Christ Church Cathedral in 2003 but continues to direct her own choir, the Cranmer Singers.

Frances has given much time and energy to the RCCO both nationally and locally in the Ottawa Centre. We wish to thank her most sincerely for her dedication to this Centre.

At our Annual General Meeting on June 13th, Frances will be recognized by the Centre as Member of the Year for 2011.


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This page was last updated on: Thursday, 02-Dec-2021 10:31:03 EST