The Rideau Carol

Thanks to Matthew Larkin and the Rideau Chorale who on December 3, 2022 became the second choir to perform my “Rideau Carol!” For song description and sheet music, see below.

Description: “The Rideau Carol,” my very first composition, is a love song to the Stairwell Carollers, to whom it is dedicated. When I go for long runs, ideas often pop into my head. And thus, while on a long marathon training run in the fall of 2015, my throat got dry and I stopped for a drink in Vincent Massey Park in Ottawa. As I looked up from the fountain, I saw a sign pointing north that said “Chutes Rideau Falls.” Suddenly, without warning, a whole Christmas carol flashed before my very eyes.

In an instant, three ideas popped into my head:

  1. That the carol would be bilingual, in keeping with the glorious linguistic mix of this amazing choir.
  2. That the Rideau Falls would play an important part; hence, the first verse opens with “As the icy curtain descends” – the word “rideau” in French meaning “curtain” in English.
  3. That a key musical theme right from the outset would be a cascading melody of some kind that would also be a play on words – i.e. the word “chutes” in French means “falls” in English, while its homophone “chut” means “hush”, and has spiritual connotations, inviting listeners to be quiet, since the baby (Jesus) is sleeping.

Thus, the carol, right from its conception, had both religious and secular foundations – just like the Stairwell Carollers – and the interplay between these two forces has defined the whole character of the piece.

NB: One day I woke up to the realization that I had independently written four choral works, each of which had evoked a different season, and so it seemed natural to group them together into a choral suite that I have called The Ottawa Four Seasons Suite. “The Rideau Carol,” with its many references to popular Ottawa landmarks, seemed to work perfectly as the musical representative of a wintery spirit.

Sheet music (SATB div.): https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/the-rideau-carol-digital-sheet-music/22370961.