"Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." Ephesians 5:19
The Psalms bear rich testimony that in joy and sorrow, in praise and lament, the faithful raise their voices in song to God. Hymn singing was practiced by Jesus and his disciples (Matt 26:30). The Apostle Paul instructed the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” (Col 3:16).
Music has always played an important role in the worship of God’s people. The purpose of our Music Ministry is to lead the congregation in worship through song, enhance our liturgies and prayer with music that touches the soul and moves the spirit, and provide an avenue through which individuals may share the gifts God gave them to glorify Him.
The great composer Johann Sebastian Bach said, "The final aim and reason of all music should be none else but the glory of God and the refreshment of the spirit." Our parish is blessed to have gifted singers and skillful instrumentalists who present music that complements, glorifies, and enhances our worship.
Director of Liturgical Music
Growing up in a family of musicians, Gina Kolenda’s musical training started at the young age of 4 when she began private violin lessons. She became an accomplished violinist, continued her studies through college, and played in orchestras such as the Longwood Symphony Orchestra until she had her family. Gina's experience with liturgical music began at the age of 11. She sang in both the children’s and adult choirs at her parish, became a cantor, and also helped plan liturgical music.
When her son was invited to sing in a new children’s choir at Our Lady of the Assumption Church several years ago, Gina and her family became members of the parish. Soon after that, she took on the role of Choir Director, leading the two children’s choirs and assisting with the multi-generational ensemble. Gina is now the Director of Liturgical Music, leading all aspects of our Music Ministry.
Gina has a dual-profession as an award-winning watercolor artist and jewelry designer for Hagen Gallery, her family business. Her watercolors have been featured in the Jimmy Fund’s Holiday card and gift collection for the past seven years, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Dana Farber. You can see her artwork on her website www.hagengallery.com and the jewelry that she and her mother Marylou design is sold throughout New England and on their online Etsy shop GraceGalleryDesign. Gina is so grateful to be able to do what she loves for her professions.
Gina lives in West Peabody with her husband Bob and son David.
Patrick Elisha is a recent graduate of the Artist Diploma program at the Boston University School of Music as a student of Pavel Nersessian. Following early studies with James Rivers, he was a student of Stanislav Ioudenitch at the International Center for Music, Park University. He then completed his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music with Menahem Pressler and André Watts, respectively. Patrick has performed at various festivals and halls including Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Boris Berman Piano Academy (Villa Medici Giulini, Italy), American Liszt Society Festival (University of Kansas), California Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall, and Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall. Patrick is also a prize winner and recipient of numerous awards including First Prize in the Great Composers International Bach, Brahms, Chopin, Prokofiev, and Schubert Competitions, Grand Prize Winner of the Concert Artists International Competition. Patrick works for M. Steinert & Sons as part of the Education Division, is a pianist and Music Minister at our parish, and resides with his wife in Salem, Massachusetts.
Charisse Nocera is a classically trained pianist. For 16 years, her passion for music has carried her to places such as Carnegie Hall, where she performed for four consecutive years after winning the Crescendo International Competition. Charisse received a scholarship from UMass Lowell to study music, where she received her bachelor's degree in piano performance in 2018. During her time at university, Charisse received the Joan K Rossi scholarship every year, and upon graduation was the recipient of the music department's award for performance. She has collaborated with musicians of all genres, including Grammy Award winner Melissa Manchester, who personally asked for Charisse to open for her concert tour. She enjoys expressing her musicality through different art forms, as she is also a professional ballroom dancer.
Charisse has been a pianist for the parish since December of 2019. She has felt great kindness, warmth, and sincerity from the parishioners of SMG and OLA churches, and enhancing the spiritual experience of the members of the church through music gives her great joy.
Margaret (Peggy) Dee grew up in Lynn, attended Lynn Public Schools, received a Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University, and eventually received a Master of Education degree from Salem State College (now Salem State University). She taught elementary-level music in the public schools of Derry, NH; Smithtown, NY; and Danvers, MA.
Peggy began accompanying her junior high school chorus while a student, and has since accompanied vocal and instrumental soloists and ensembles from school-aged students to professional performers. She is a charter member of The Concert Singers of Greater Lynn, and has been their accompanist since 1987.
Jodi Hagen received an Artist Diploma, Masters, and Bachelor Degree in violin performance at Boston University, where she was a Director’s Award Student of Roman Totenberg. Jodi won tenured positions with the Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra, the Boston Ballet Orchestra, and Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra; is a member of the Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms Society Orchestra; and serves as Concertmaster of Boston Midsummer Opera, Jodi also has been concertmaster for numerous broadway shows and star attractions in Boston’s premier theaters, and plays solo violin for the Emmy Award winning PBS TV series “American Experience”. Since March 2020, Jodi has enjoyed teaching violin lessons to students of all ages and at all levels online via Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype; running Zoom masterclasses and recitals; and creating group recordings and videos.
Jamie Hillman is a multi-faceted musician who is active as a conductor, singer, pianist, music educator, and composer. He is an assistant professor of music at Gordon College in Wenham, MA, where he directs the Gordon College Choir and Men's Choir, teaches a number of vocal and music education courses, and coordinates the vocal area. As a Boston University Prison Arts Scholar and faculty member of BU's Metropolitan College/Prison Education Program, he co-initiated a music program at a large, medium-high security men's prison in Massachusetts. His previous teaching includes Beaver Country Day School, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Csehy Summer School of Music, and Phillips Academy.
Jamie holds an associate diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and degrees from Western University (Bachelor of Music), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Master of Music), and Boston University (Doctor of Musical Arts).
Holly Cameron has been a cantor with our Music Ministry since 2015. She has degrees in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory and Cincinnati Conservatory, and enjoys performing a variety of genres ranging from Classical and Opera to Blues and Soul, with orchestras and bands at events all over the New England region. Holly, also known as the “Real Estate Diva”, has been selling real estate in Boston and the North Shore since 2012 and loves finding ways to connect with and help people through both her careers.
Our Lady of the Assumption has been the Dennis family parish for more than 30 years. Jim and his five siblings attended Our Lady of the Assumption School.
Jim was raised in a musical family, and started singing while at Bishop Fenwick High School. He has served as a cantor at St. Mary Church in Lynn, St. John the Evangelist Church in Swampscott, and Our Lady Star of the Sea in Marblehead, and has been invited to sing at weddings and funerals throughout the North Shore. Jim is happy to be a part of the talented group of cantors and musicians that have been assembled for the parish's Music Ministry.
Jim is engaged to Brenda Supino, a life-long parishioner of OLA and SMG. Jim's son Patrick attended Merrimack College and his daughter Anna went to UMass Amherst. He lost his eldest son, Dean, in 2019.
Grace Ferri is a medical student at Boston University School of Medicine. She started singing in a children’s choir at Our Lady of the Assumption in the 4th grade and continues to sing at both Our Lady of the Assumption Church and St. Maria Goretti Church.
Andrea Gagnon has been a cantor for the parish since February 2014. She began singing in high school and has been a member of numerous choirs, chorales, and a cappella groups since then. A lifelong resident of Peabody, Andrea attended Our Lady of the Assumption School and has been a member of OLA church since 1993. Over the years, Andrea has volunteered her time as a second-grade Religious Education teacher, Confirmation Program Coordinator, and lector at OLA. When she is not singing, you can find Andrea teaching Mathematics at North Reading High School.
Cara Palmerino joined the parish Music Ministry in 2010 as a choir member and cantor. Cara has been involved with music and theater all of her life, beginning with school chorales, show choirs, and musical theater. After earning her MBA, she re-joined her local community theater groups, appearing in numerous musical theater and straight-play productions for which she earned several EMACT awards for featured performer and producer. Professionally, Cara’s career has included positions in both Marketing and Finance, most recently as Finance Manager for a global information technology company north of Boston.
Stephanie Scarcella has loved being a cantor of the parish Musical Ministry team since she joined in 2014. Originally from Wyoming, she moved to Boston to study classical vocal performance at the Boston Conservatory of Music (TBC), where she received her bachelor's and master's degrees. A mezzo-soprano, Stephanie has been performing professionally throughout the United States, singing a wide variety of genres including classical, jazz, and musical theater.
Our parish has THREE choirs to “sing praises to God” (Psalm 47:6):
- Holy Spirit Ensemble — our multi-generational, voice-and-instrument assemblage.
- Angels in the Morning - our children’s choir welcoming children in Grades K-8 from SMG Church, OLA Church, and OLA School.
- Heavenly Praise - our OLA School Choir for students in Grades 1-8.
Check out a sampling of our choirs' recordings:
New voices are always welcome to join our choirs. For more information, please contact Gina Kolenda, Director of Liturgical Music.