The 37th annual CBC Christmas Sing-In took place Sunday, Dec. 11, with capacity crowds at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul and — via video simulcast — the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' Bourgie Concert Hall.
Every year since 1980, Montrealers have come out in great numbers to sing their favourite Christmas carols with the Choir of the Church and St. Andrew and St. Paul in stirring arrangements for brass, percussion and organ. This year's lineup also included tenor soloist John Tessier from Edmonton. The organist and director of music was Jonathan Oldengarm; the conductor was Jean-Sébastien Vallée.
For many, this concert marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Montreal. The photos below explain why.
The public started lining up before 12 p.m. to receive an admission bracelet for the 3 p.m. concert. They were greeted by a smiling Jennifer Allen from CBC Montreal.
CBC Montreal's Julie Melanson surveyed the growing lineup of Sing-In fans hoping to attend the concert.
Ceebee was on hand to entertain the crowd and distract them from the cold.
Ceebee even gave out free hugs.
Singers from a cappella vocal ensembles Soulstice and Effusion sang for the public.
Once inside, members of the public were handed a program containing the words to the audience carols.
Ben Heppner (CBC Radio 2) and Debra Arbec (CBC Montreal News) greeted the audience.
Some people were seasonally attired.
Rev. Glenn Chestnutt, the newly appointed minister of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, welcomed the audience. This was Chestnutt's first CBC Christmas Sing-In, not to mention his first Montreal winter.
Leanne Bayer, executive director of West Island Community Shares, told the audience about her organization, which raises funds for 40 different non-profit groups on the West Island of Montreal.
Conductor Vallée (right) and organist Oldengarm spent 15 minutes coaching the audience on good carol-singing technique.
While playing the Casavant organ at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, Oldengarm followed the conductor's gestures using a rearview mirror.
Vallée used his brand new selfie stick to take a group photo with the audience at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul.
In neighbouring Bourgie Concert Hall, conductor Francis Choinière also snapped a selfie with the audience.
The altos of the choir posed for a selfie with conductor Vallée, who is clearly very excited with his new selfie stick.
Percussionist Mark Morton (left) and CBC recording technician Pierre Lévesque discussed some last-minute adjustments.
The choir advanced down the side aisle of the church.
In the narthex, the members of the choir lit their candles.
A hush fell over the audience moments before the choir began its candlelight procession.
The candlelight procession was a moment of quiet magic.
"O come, O come, Emmanuel."
The Sing-In brass and percussion ensemble accompanied the choir for most of the audience carols.
Even the balcony at the back of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul was filled to capacity.
CBC sound engineer Dominic Beaudoin kept his cool while recording the concert.
An innovation this year: the CBC Christmas Sing-In was webcast on Facebook. CBC Montreal's Molly Kohli was in charge of that.
The pride of Edmonton, tenor John Tessier got into the zone before going onstage to sing.
Backstage, Chris Maskell (foreground) assisted CBC's Julie Lapierre with the video mix.
The public came to sing, and sing they did.
When they weren't singing along, the audience listened with rapt attention while the Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul performed a number of selections.
"In the bleak midwinter."
Over $9,000 was raised to support West Island Community Shares.
CBC camera operator Denis Christopherson got the best shots for the video simulcast.
The audience in neighbouring Bourgie Concert Hall experienced the CBC Christmas Sing-In from a unique perspective, with the help of McGill University's Schulich Singers and conductor Choinière.
"Joy to the world."
The choir was all smiles as they proceeded out of the church at the end of the concert.
As a parting gift, everyone in the audience received a CBC-themed shortbread cookie. Merry Christmas!