Good King Wenceslas

A collaborative video project: Deadline December 19

This year most of our carolling will take place privately and on zoom, and even though I look forward to seeing all our mouths moving while one of us sings, I want more.

In order to experience the joy of voices raised together, I am inviting you all to join me in making a collaborative video of a traditional carol.

I have chosen Good King Wenceslas for several good reasons: it is a folk carol, rather than a pop song or a liturgical composition; it has an easy tune, all within one octave, and everyone knows it; it tells a story with an ethical sentiment; and it is great for harmonizing and for playing instruments.

Here is the link to the bed track recorded with voice and piano by Fern: We thought it would be best if the track you all record to has accompaniment to guide the instrumentalists. You simply listen to it and record your own contribution and upload it to a shared folder in Google Drive.

You can sing in unison or in harmony, or both if you want to send in two files. You can also play an instrument. It is in D, which is an easy key for fiddle as well as guitar, mandolin and many others. Percussion could work in this as well.

Fern Vale Volante will mix the files together into one glorious whole, and we will then share it on youtube for all to see and hear. They will mix and post as the contributions come in, so you check in to see more and more complete versions.

Please see Fern’s recording tips, after my note.

Here is the link to the Google Drive folder containing the lyrics with chords, and a little piano demo of the chords we started with. This is also the link you will use to upload your contribution when you have recorded it:

I have participated in a few of these projects, and there are various ways to record yourself. I have found the simplest thing is to listen with one headphone to the recording on my laptop while recording a video on the phone. But you do it however it works for you.

I don’t care how you dress, what your background is, whether you sing/play alone or in a couple or a pod.

Just have fun and anticipate the ultimate delight of hearing our sounds all together in joyful seasonal glee!



Note from Fern:

Thanks for participating!

Here are some instructions and tips to help us make a great video together.

Please record yourself singing or playing along with the bed track, so that we’re all in the same key and at the same tempo.

Please use headphones so that the audio from your speaker isn’t caught in your microphone.

If you want to record audio only, or record audio and video separately, that’s fine. If you don’t have software to mix them together, just upload both files.

Please name your files something like “[yourname]-[vocal/instrumental]” so that I can find and mix them in accordingly. Don’t name them just “good king wenceslas” or “1234567.mp4”.

If you can, please upload .wav audio and/or .mp4 video. If you’re mixing video and audio files together and want advice on export settings, email

Please use vertical recording mode, as it will be easier to put everyone together in one video.

Fern Vale Volante

Here is some information about a few events that have already happened. 

Outdoor Carolling
with Maura Volante

Saturday, December 12, 2020
2 to 3 pm

For several years I have been organizing an annual pub carolling session, which is attended by dozens of people, crowding together and raising the rafters with our joined voices. This year is a little different, but we can still include some live carolling in our festive season. Outdoor, small group carolling is also a venerable tradition, and this is the year for it.

Come join me for an outdoor carolling session. It will be in a public space where it will be possible to stand well back from the foot traffic, as well as to stand well apart from each other, as we sing some of the old favourite traditional carols. Although there will be folks listening as they pass by, this is not intended to be polished performance. There will be no rehearsals in advance. If you are comfortable doing harmonies, that is great. Unison is also just fine.

The group will be capped at eight people, so if more than eight people express interest, more dates will be planned.

Some folks know a lot of carols by heart, but most don’t remember all the words from year to year, so it is fine to use printed lyrics for this event. You can download a 10-page pdf document here (Carols for Christmas 2020) or bring your own songbooks. I will bring some booklets from previous years but I have made a slight change in the 2020 version.

Some of you may want to be masked for this, and there are mask patterns designed for singers that hold the fabric out from the face, but I think if we all stay 2m apart side-to-side and keep ourselves well back from the sidewalk, it will not be necessary to wear masks.

The event was not conceived as a fundraising event, but it seems like a good opportunity to raise money for a local community group. A basket will be put out for passersby to donate to an organization which is meeting important needs (more details forthcoming).

Sign up to receive the location:



The Log Drive Café presents

Maura & Fern Volante & Ranald Thurgood

Live on the front porch of the Nectar Centre
and Livestream on Youtube. To attend the livestream, click here or copy and paste this link:

This link is still active. If you want to catch this show anytime on Youtube, you can!

Saturday, September 19, 2020
2 pm

255 MacKay Street

Come join us for this rare opportunity to hear traditional folk music in person. Bring a lawn chair and set up on the lawn in front of this charming New Edinburgh arts centre.

If you can’t make it to New Edinburgh, tune in to the show on Youtube.


The Log Drive Café presents

Maura Volante, Diane Fraser & Kate Lock

Friday, February 28, 2020, 7:30 (doors at 7)
The Nectar Centre
255 MacKay Street, Ottawa, K1M 2B6

$10 or pwyc

Homespun is a new group of three women singing unaccompanied, in harmony. They sing a variety of traditional folk songs from Canada, the British Isles and the U.S., with a focus on the experiences of women: struggling in workplaces, suffering in relationships, and resisting the conditions imposed upon them. Homespun has developed exciting new arrangements of songs both familiar and obscure, but there will still be space for the audience to sing along on the choruses.

Maura Volante, who initiated the group, is well-known to the Log Drive Café and other folk audiences in Ottawa (Folk at the Oak, Tunes After Noon …). With decades of experience in traditional folk singing, Maura has a powerful and lyrical voice, with a strong sense of what is appropriate for the material.

Diane Fraser, who plays bodhran and sings in the traditional group FRASER, is also an experienced chorister with such groups as the Stairwell Carollers. She has a warm, rich tone and a strong rhythmic sense.

Kate Lock has sung in choirs and small groups over the years, as well as every day in her work as an early childhood educator. She and Maura have sung together in Christmas carol ensembles and an improvisational group called Oya. Kate’s voice is the clear flowing fountain in the group, with echoes of her British heritage.

By the way, Maura Volante is in the middle of recording an album of traditional Canadian folk songs, which should be out by Spring. Pre-ordering is a possibility: check out Maura’s website for details on that and other projects:

The Log Drive Café is a traditional music venue, held on occasional Friday evenings, featuring local and visiting folk singers and musicians in a coffee-house setting, in which the audience is welcome to sing along.
Tea, coffee and baked goods are available.
Check out the website:
Contact Chrissy Steinbock with further questions:

Pub Carolling
with Maura Volante

Sunday, December 22, 2019
2 pm to 4 pm

The Canal Royal Oak at the Pretoria Bridge
221 Echo Drive

Folk Song Circle
Maura Volante

This 4-week series continues after two amazing sessions. It is directed towards adults 55+, but it is open to all.
Thursdays, 2 to 3 pm
One more session: November 21.

Ottawa Public Library Main Branch
120 Metcalfe Street, Room B125

Featuring traditional Canadian folk songs

Folk songs were made by and for ordinary people, so they are easy to learn and great for group singing.
Maura will lead the sessions, helping you learn a variety of old songs and feel better singing them.
Improve your memory, make new friends, and find your voice.
All voices welcome.
Free, drop-in. • 613 580 2940

Rideau Rounders Tipper poster 24.07.19

Rideau Rounders
Maura Volante & Ranald Thurgood
with Jim Edmondson on Guitar

Friday, August 23, 2019
8 pm
The Tipper

2066 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC, V5N 2T3

$15 or pay what you can

Rideau Rounders consists of Maura Volante and Ranald Thurgood, who sing, together and separately, traditional folk songs. For this show they will concentrate on songs from Ontario and Atlantic Canada. Ballads, work songs and light-hearted ditties collected by folklorists such as Edith Fowke, Helen Creighton, Sandy Ives and others are brought to life by the warm, expressive and hearty voices of these two veteran folk singers. All their performances provide opportunities to sing along on the choruses.

Jim Edmondson, a well-known local folk musician (Three Strong Winds), will add his talents to show, accompanying Maura and Ranald on guitar.

Maura did a show at The Tipper last time she was in town and it was a lot of fun, with a packed house full of folks singing along on the choruses. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear these folks all the way from Ottawa.

For more information, call or text 613 277 9208

Maura & FRASER poster, June 1 Legion, 13.05.19

Maura & Ernie poster 11.11.18

Folk Songs & Fiddle Tunes of Canada
at the Log Drive Café

featuring Maura Volante & Ernie Fraser
with guest Diane Fraser

Friday, November 30, 2018
7:30 – 9:00 pm (doors open at 7)

950 Bank Street, Ottawa
The Glebe Centre Community Programs at
Abbotsford House
(the old stone house across from Lansdowne)

$10 at the door*

Maura Volante has been adding lots of songs to her repertoire (in English and French) from various parts of Canada, and is excited to share this new material as well as some old favourites. Many are old songs brought over from the British Isles and France, such as The Old Beggarman, V’la le Bon Vent and Well Sold the Cow. Others, like Chief Douglas’ Daughter and Klondike, are made in Canada, dealing with actual historical events. Most of the songs have choruses or repeating parts, so come prepared to sing!

Joining Maura will be Ernie Fraser, a local fiddler and guitar player, originally from Cape Breton Island. Ernie will add his tasteful and skilled guitar playing on some of the songs, and will intersperse the evening with tunes on the fiddle, mostly Cape Breton style. The fiddle tunes will also feature Diane Fraser on the bodhran.

Maura Volante brings a lifelong passion for traditional folk music and a deep commitment to engaging others in singing. Her voice is powerful, yet lyrical and nuanced. Maura performs at various gatherings, including Folk at the Oak, a monthly open stage event, as well as the Log Drive Café. Check out her website: You will find more information, song lyrics and links to her Youtube channel.

Ernie Fraser is an experienced fiddler and guitarist. A long-time favourite at the Ottawa Traditional Fiddling and Folk Art Society, Ernie has been active in the Ottawa fiddling community for many years. In 2017, Ernie released his own CD entitled Cape Breton Trubutes. He was the Musical Director of the Ottawa Fiddle Ensemble, and has performed for the Cape Breton Club of Ottawa. Ernie has also played guitar professionally for many years in a variety of styles. These days he hosts and performs at a Celtic Kitchen Party on the 4th Sunday of the month at the Kat & Kraken. Ernie’s website contains further information and video clips:

The Log Drive Café is a traditional music venue, held on occasional Friday evenings, featuring local and visiting folk singers and musicians in a coffee-house setting, in which the audience is welcome to sing along.

Tea, coffee and baked goods are available.

Abbotsford House is a wheelchair accessible recreation centre focused on older adults; however, the Log Drive Café is an all-ages event.

If it is wet out, please bring indoor shoes to protect the floor.

*If $10 is a hardship for you, offer what you can and we will take it.

This information is also on the website:

Contact Chrissy Steinbock with further questions:
Or call Abbotsford House: 613 230 5730


Pub Carolling Dec 23, 2018. 26.11.18

Pub Carolling
with Maura Volante

Sunday, December 23, 2018
2 pm to 4 pm

The Canal Royal Oak at the Pretoria Bridge
221 Echo Drive

Come join Maura Volante and a bunch of other fine folks who like to sing together every year on a Sunday afternoon in December. The upstairs room at the Royal Oak is lovely for group singing, and last year we filled the room with a gorgeous sound. Maura will bring a 10-page booklet of traditional carols, but any seasonal song is welcome. We will go around the room and everyone will have a chance to request or lead a song.

It is free and all are welcome.

Maura will bring lots of paper versions of the carol sheets, but here is a pdf of the 10-page document in case you want to print it or bring it on your device:

Carols for Christmas 2017

Contact Maura Volante with further questions: • 613 277 9208


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