"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.
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.
Click here for a video of Holly singing "City of God".
Marcia Cutlip served as the Director of Music at Saint Athanasius Parish in Reading for 35 years. In addition, she also served in the music ministry at Saint Robert's in Andover, Saint Paul's in Hamilton, and Saint Anthony's in Woburn. Marcia is the founder of the North Reading Senior Echoes, a community singing group for seniors. As she put it, "Every time I try to retire, I seem to wander back. Music just won’t let me go!" Marcia has two grown children and a cat named Johann Sebastian Bach.
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.
Click here to see Jim singing "O Little Town of Bethlehem" as part of a caroling home visit to seniors.
Jennifer Honen Emery
Jennifer Honen Emery is a multi-talented musician who serves Ave Maria Parish as both a cantor and keyboardist. Jennifer has held Music Director’s positions in contemporary and traditional music at several Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Boston, including at Boston’s St. Anthony’s/Arch Street Shrine, the Salem Catholic Collaborative, and Good Shepherd Parish in Wayland. A frequent accompanist in the Boston area, Jennifer served as staff pianist at the Boston Conservatory for more than a decade. Her talents are extensive and include mezzo-soprano, alto, vocal coach, audition coach, musical theater director, artist, designer, and composer of liturgical music. We are blessed to have Jennifer’s combination of talents and the joy her music exudes as part of our music ministry.
Click here for a video of Jennifer singing the psalm "The Lord Has Done Great Things".
Grace Ferri started singing in a children’s choir at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in elementary school and began working as a cantor in 2014. She has since continued to sing at Masses, weddings, funerals, and other services in the Greater Boston area. Grace trains under Mark Lee at New England Conservatory and is a medical resident at Boston Medical Center.
Click here to watch a video of Grace singing the psalm "Lord Your Love is Everlasting".
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.
Here is Andrea's beautiful rendition of "Schubert's Ave Maria".
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.
Here is Jodi's mesmerizing performance of the "Bach/Gounod Ave Maria".
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.
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.
Click here to enjoy Cara singing "Table of Plenty".
Alec Sennott is a music educator, pianist, singer, and composer. While his undergraduate work in piano centered around classical repertoire, he has a great interest in jazz, contemporary music, and improvisation. He works as a K-5 General Music instructor in the Waltham Public Schools. He is a former Director of Music at Tewksbury United Methodist Church and he has sung in and accompanied ensembles as a pianist for the Sing! Getty Music Conference in Nashville. Alec holds his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Gordon College where he is also pursuing his Master’s Degree.
Holly Zagaria serves as a singer (Mezzo-Soprano), pianist, organist, music director, adjudicator, clinician, educator, and vocal pedagogue, and performs regularly in all capacities. She received a full scholarship for her B.A. in Voice Performance at the University of New Hampshire, and earned her Master of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts from Boston University. She teaches Voice, Fundamentals of Theory, Ear Training, and Opera Ensemble at Salem State University, and has taught Introduction to Music in previous semesters. Dr. Zagaria joined the Voice Faculty at Gordon College in 2019 and has also served on the faculties of Suffolk University, Emerson College, New England Conservatory DCE, and University of Massachusetts/Boston. In addition to her musical work, Dr. Zagaria is a licensed tour guide in Concord, MA, and enjoys working as a tour guide for Boston Harbor City Cruises.
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 1-8 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.