CBC Montreal's 2017 Christmas Sing-In hits the right note

A packed house of 1,500 people was on-hand as the sound of carols filled the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul for the 38th annual CBC Montreal Christmas Sing-In.

Annual holiday charity event raises $7,360 in donations for West Island Community Shares

This is the 38th year of the Sing-In, which is held to raise money for local charities. (Tam Lan Truong/tamphotography.net)

A packed house of 1,500 people was on-hand as the sound of carols filled the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul for the 38th annual CBC Montreal Christmas Sing-In.

The total amount of donations made at the free event came in at $7,360.

Sing-In attendees Claire and Jasper Williams outside the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, where the annual concert is held. (Ryan Garland/CBC)

All donations collected will go toward the CBC Montreal Charity Drive, this year benefiting West Island Community Shares, a group that distributes funding to 41 different non-profit groups in the West Island.

The concert featured the Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, the Sing-In brass and percussion ensemble, organist Jonathan Oldengarm and conductor Jean-Sébastien Vallée.

The event began at 3 p.m. and lasted until 5 p.m.

Vallée said this year's selection of music harkened back to some traditional classics.
Conductor Jean-Sébastien Vallée led CBC Montreal's 2017 Sing-In. (Tam Lan Truong/tamphotography.net)

"I wanted to go back to my favourites. Things I was listening to when I was a kid. Something that feels a bit warmer, something that feels a bit more emotional," Vallée said.

Family reunion

People came from far and wide to attend the event — longtime CBC radio listener Heather Watts came all the way from Nova Scotia to attend the concert for the first time.

Watts, 81, said she's been listening to the Sing-In on the radio since almost the beginning — in 1980.

"I always thought it would be lovely to attend the service," she said. "We're really looking forward to it."
Heather Watts, 81, came all the way from Nova Scotia to Montreal for the CBC Christmas Sing-In. She's been wanting to see it in person since 1980. 0:50

Watts, who was born in Montreal, said she staged a small family reunion, meeting up with her daughter and two granddaughters while she's visiting her hometown.

The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul has special significance for her, since her grandfather first came to Canada from Scotland in order to serve as the minister at its current location.

Heather Watts and her family at the front of the line to get into the church. She says being here with her family, including her granddaughter Lily, makes today “perfect.” (Kate McKenna/CBC News)

"I always thought of it as my grandfather's church," Watts said. "He was there 20 years."

Her parents were also members of the congregation and were married in the church.

A new experience

Charlie Pellegrin lined up early to get front-row seats at the packed church for her family.

"I love Christmas music and I really love the idea of everyone singing together," said Pellegrin.

Charlie Pellegrin got to experience the CBC Christmas Sing-In for the first time this weekend. (CBC)

While the music enthusiast has been to many concerts, she said it was her first time at the CBC Christmas Sing-In.

"I love choirs a lot so this is kind of the biggest choir I will have ever heard," she said.

You can stream it

You can stream the 2017 CBC Christmas Sing-In on CBC Music beginning Thursday, Dec. 14.

The Sing-In was also broadcast live on CBC Montreal's Facebook page and recorded for broadcast across Canada and around the world.

As many as 1,500 people attended the concert at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul on Sunday, Dec. 10. The full concert will be online as of Dec. 14, 2017. (Tam Lan Truong/tamphotography.net)