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A gift of song

Posted by: Rohan Preston under Photography, Theater, People Updated: December 16, 2011 - 8:14 AM
Carolers at Ann Marsden's home. Photos by Rich Ryan. 
 
Leading Twin Cities photographer Ann Marsden was diagnosed with cervical cancer in July 2010. She has undergone several intensive treatment regimens, including another round of chemotherapy that began in early December.
 
She cannot have visitors, which friends describe as a trial for this people person.
 
So, on Monday evening, more than two dozen neighbors and members of the Twin Cities performing arts community came together outside her home in St Paul to show their love. Bearing candles and sweet spirits, they sang carols to Marsden, who came out and watched, beaming.
 
The evening was organized by Mary Petrie, a neighbor and women's studies professor, and Twin Cities stage star Stacia Rice.
 
“Like most people, we felt helpless in the face of illness,” said Petrie. “And we wanted to give her some energy.”
 
The carolers sang such songs as “Silent Night” and “O, Holy Night.”
 
Actor and chanteuse Ann Michels delivered one of Marsden's favorite songs, Joni Mitchell’s “River.”
 

 
Marsden watches.
 
"We all teared up," said Petrie. “She sang this beautiful song while weeping to Annie, who sat on her steps while Ann Michels was at the edge of the sidewalk.”
  
In addition to songs, the visitors brought soup and cards for Marsden, who posted online that she was moved by the magical night.
 
“I'm still floating on a cloud from my surprise visiting carolers who on Monday evening serenaded me from my front sidewalk!,” she said.
 
Marsden's journey is being tracked by a website.

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