• James Armstrong

The Sainte-Anne Singers team-up with The Reed Family for seasonal concert


Hudson residents Ember-Leah, Michelle , and Ashley-Maria Reed are known for their solo musical works and will accompany The Sainte-Anne Singers in upcoming local concerts.

The local December concert season is off to an exciting start with a collaboration of Sainte-Anne Singers and Hudson’s Reed Family featuring a program of music for choir and stringed instruments.

“This is the first time we’ve worked with the Reed Family,” choir director Margo Keenan told The Journal. The two music groups met through a member of the Sainte-Anne Singers who was familiar with the family of musicians. The Reed Family, comprised of cello player Ashley-Maria, vocalist and violinist Ember-Leah and joined for this concert by pianist mom Michelle, will perform several pieces with the choir including ‘Benedictus’ by Karl Jenkins from his mass setting titled ‘The Armed Man.’

“Ember-Leah will be singing in this one accompanied by the strings and the choir,” said Keenan.

World premiere

The concert features the world premiere of ‘Nesciens Mater’ composed by choir member Martin Chambers.

“It’s a 13th century text referring to the Virgin Mother giving birth to the Savior,” said Keenan. The choir, founded by Keenan in 1987 began as a small a cappella ensemble that gradually grew to its current size of 24 members. The group sings primarily contemporary repertoire by Canadian, American and Northern European composers along with standard a cappella choral repertoire from all eras. Also on the program is ‘Tidings of Great Joy’ by Larry Nickel, a Canadian west-coast composer, conductor, publisher and singer.

“We are doing a fair amount of contemporary pieces,” Keenan said. “There’s nothing like a cappella singing, that sense of human voices creating extraordinary harmonies. For me, there is nothing better,” she added.

The choir has extensive experience obtained through participation in choral competitions, choral and orchestral collaborations and workshops with well-known conductors. In 2017, it was chosen with 18 other choirs from across the country to provide a track for a recorded collection of French Canadian choral music marking Canada’s 150th Anniversary.


The Ste-Anne Singers

Cross-cultural concert

The northern European flavour comes into play with Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo who currently lives in the United States. The program offers pieces by Gjeilo, Serenity, Wintertide, and Spotless Rose.

“We will be singing Wintertide in Norwegian,” said Keenan, “It’s a cross-cultural concert with a northern flavour.”

On a lighter note, there will be renditions of ‘Walking in the Air’ from the animated film ‘The Snowman’ and ‘Where Are You, Christmas?’ from ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas.’ There will also be familiar carols presented in fresh and imaginative arrangements such as ‘Noël Nouvelet,’ ‘Sainte Nuit,’ ‘The Angel Gabriel’ and ‘Minuit, Chrétiens!’

The Reed Family

Ashley-Maria began cello studies at the age of six. Her solo career and her creative approach have given her the flexibility to engage in a wide range of musical styles. She has distinguished herself in regional and provincial music competitions and was principal cellist for the West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra. She also participates in a string trio with her sister Ember-Leah (violin) and her brother Colton (viola).

Similarly, Ember-Leah began her violin studies at the age of four and has demonstrated a natural musical ability and technical facility in numerous music competitions. She is also a talented singer and has won several vocal competitions.

Their mother, Michelle, accompanies them on the piano. A graduate of McGill University in Microbiology, Michelle has maintained a deep passion for music throughout her life.

Place and time

Concertgoers have two choices of date and venue: Union Church, 24 Maple Street in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue on Saturday, December 1 at 8 p.m. and Saint Thomas Aquinas Church, 413 Main Road, Hudson on Sunday, December 2 at 4 p.m. For further information and tickets, please consult www.sainteannesingers.org/concerts_en.html.

Prices range from $20 for adults, $15 for university and college students to $5 for children 12 years of age and under.

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