40th edition of CBC Sing-In welcomes 1,500 carollers

Enjoy traditional Christmas music for choir, brass and organ with an audience singing along. Money raised will benefit The Montreal Children's Library.

Donations were collected for the benefit of The Montreal Children's Library

The Sing-In started in 1980 as an idea developed by former CBC producer Frances Wainwright and former Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul conductor Wayne Riddell. (Tam Lan Truong/

The pews were packed with carollers at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul Sunday afternoon, for the 40th annual CBC Montreal Christmas Sing-In.

This year's free concert was sold out. Donations were collected for the benefit of The Montreal Children's Library. On Sunday, $7,289 was collected in cash and text donations from the Sing-In. The total amount will be announced Monday morning. 

Sunday's event was hosted by CBC Montreal's Sean Henry and Julie Nesrallah, host of CBC Music's Tempo. It 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.

Some 1,500 people attended the event at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul and next door, at Bourgie Hall, where the concert was broadcast on a giant screen.

Hundreds lined up outside the church hours before the concert began at 3 p.m. Nancy Hagan, who travelled from California to experience Christmastime in Quebec, was one of them. 

"I wanted to feel the holiday spirit, and this is a perfect opportunity to do so," Hagan said. 'I think it's really just being around people who are here for the same reason and feeling their energy and being brought up by that."

Carollers of all ages attended CBC Montreal's 40th annual Sing-In. (Tam Lan Truong/

It was Andrée Paquin's third time attending the Sing-In. She also wanted to feel the Christmas spirit. 

"It puts me in the mood for Christmas," Paquin said. "It's magical and cheerful and Christmassy. I know it's an event that's very meaningful for people in the community." 

From the very start, it's been a crowd pleaser: retired CBC music producer Frances Wainwright said she had to turn hundreds of people away from the church for the Sing-In's first edition in 1980.

Carollers Eric Marcoux, Michelle Vaillancourt and Jeffrey Liutak were lined up for the annual CBC Sing-In two hours ahead of time. (Ryan Garland/CBC)

The concert was streamed on the CBC Montreal website, on our Facebook page and on CBC Gem. 

You can listen to the broadcast on the CBC Listen app starting Dec. 12

Promoting literacy

All the donations collected will go toward the CBC Montreal Charity Drive, which this year benefits The Montreal Children's Library.

This is the first year CBC Montreal is partnering with the library, which celebrated its 90th anniversary this year, making it one of the oldest privately funded libraries in the city.

It aims to boost literacy, offer peer mentoring and organize clubs.

The Montreal Children's Library brings learning and literacy opportunities to children and their families in areas of the city not served by municipal libraries. (Andrea Stanford/CBC)

The funds raised will help the library increase its staff and purchase more equipment for the range of activities it offers.

You can read more here about the library and this anniversary edition of the Sing-In:

Former CBC producer Frances Wainwright organized the Sing-In from 1980 to 1997. Her daughter Carla, son Julian and husband Barry are seen here at an early edition of the event. (Submitted by Frances Wainwright)

With files from CBC's Ryan Garland


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