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New community choir keeps music alive in Port Alberni

Urbanstreet Choir to host first concert on May 28 at United Church
Janet Shlackl leads the Urbanstreet Choir in a rehearsal at the Alberni Valley United Church on April 7, 2022. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

A new community choir is keeping choral music alive in the Alberni Valley.

Urbanstreet Choir was born from the former Sea Notes choir, which used to run out of the Capitol Theatre through the Portal Players Dramatic Society. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portal Players Dramatic Society terminated their music program, and the choir was left adrift.

Director Janet Schlackl, however, said choir members still wanted to continue singing.

“The majority of us were singing at the Capitol Theatre, and we wanted to continue singing,” said Schlackl. “We needed to determine how that might happen.”

After spending a bit of time searching for new venues, singers discovered the Alberni Valley United Church was available.

“The acoustics are amazing,” said the choir’s director of administration Colleen Brooks.

The new name, Urbanstreet Choir, was proposed by choir member Kelly Edgar. Schlackl and Brooks say it describes the social aspect of their choir. It is a community choral group, with no auditions and no prior music or singing experience necessary.

“It describes what we are,” said Brooks. “We have a lot of fun, a lot of laughs and a lot of antics.”

And the choir has been able to continue having fun throughout the pandemic. Since they started practicing in October 2021, they have followed COVID-19 orders, spreading out in the large United Church space and even singing in masks until mandates were lifted.

“For some people, this has been a bit of a lifesaver,” said Schlackl.

“It’s a social connection,” added Brooks.

Now the choir is hosting its first concert, titled “Rivers and Rainbows,” on Saturday, May 28, 2022. The show will take place at the United Church (3747 Church St.) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available from choir members or at the door and are $12 for adults ($5 for children under the age of 12).

The concert, said Schlackl, will also give prospective singers an opportunity to see what the choir does. The choir has a rich repertoire of tunes, featuring everything from gospel to rock music.

“It will give them an idea of the music we do,” said Schlackl. “We have a real broad range. We’re looking for other members to join us.”

Urbanstreet currently consists of a choir and an a cappella group, although they also have plans to start up a teen choir in September for singers in Grades 8 to 12.

“Everyone can sing, everyone can learn to sing, and the place to do that is in a choir like this,” said Schlackl. “We make our decisions together. Everyone has a place in the choir and they all feel comfortable.”

Anyone interested in joining Urbanstreet Choir can contact directors at The choir meets most Thursday nights at the United Church at 7:30 p.m.

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Conductor Janet Schlackl leads the Urbanstreet Choir in a rehearsal at Alberni Valley United Church on April 7, 2022. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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