Inspiring young adults to sing

Prairie Soundscape is a choir based in Winkler for young adults aged 18-30 in the Pembina Valley. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

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A pair of Winkler choir conductors and teachers are making it their mission to ensure young adults have a place to sing.
Melanie Urichuk and Karen Giesbrecht are founders of a Middle Years Choir featuring about 60 singers that began in Spring 2017. That prompted them to launch a second choir called Prairie Soundscape for young adults in the Pembina Valley.
While it began as a small group of singers who met for four rehearsals before performing at Northland Parkway Collegiate’s spring concert, organizers are hoping to see it become much more.
“Last year’s choir was started pretty quickly on a bit of a whim from Karen and I,” Urichuk said, explaining they had given the concept some thought before, but were moved by the success of the Middle Years Choir to act on it. “We had 14 official singers last year, some of whom have university degrees in music, and some have only done a year or two of choir in high school.”
Prairie Soundscape is a choir for young adults aged 18-30 in the Pembina Valley.
Urichuk said too often people who enjoy choir in high school feel they have nowhere to sing after they graduate, especially if they aren’t in a post secondary music program.
“We see so many incredible musicians go through our programs at NPC and GVC, and we often hear about how much our former students miss choir when we run into them, whether it’s a year or two out of high school or a decade plus,” she said.
Urichuk said Prairie Soundscape is an opportunity for singers to continue to experience the joy and fulfillment of making music in an ensemble.
“Just because a person has gone on to university, joined the workforce, or started a family doesn’t mean that the musician in them is suddenly gone,” she explained. “Prairie Soundscape is here to allow people to continue to feed the musical part of their souls.”
Urichuk said they believe in the Manitoba Choral Association’s motto – “A voice for every choir and a choir for every voice”.
The main goal is to choose music that’s enjoyable to sing.
“There are a few pieces that are incredibly lush and beautiful, and there are others that are energetic and full of groove,” she said. “We incorporate a variety of genres, including some pop, some classical, some world music, and that way we ensure there’s something for everyone.”
“If someone is looking to sing strictly Mozart, we’re not the choir for them, just like if someone is looking to sing exclusively pop then they would likely not be thrilled with our musical choices,” she added.
Urichuk hopes this year will bring more songs, more singers and a slightly longer season.
Urichuk said their ultimate vision is to create a community where people feel musically fulfilled.
“Listening to music is wonderful, but there’s something about being part of the actual music making that can’t be found anywhere else,” she said. “Feeling the vibrations of your voice and how they merge with the voices around is an experience where it seems like you physically connect to the emotions and message of a song.”
Urichuk said long term they’d love to travel and sing their way across the country and around the world.
The choir is open to anyone willing to make the trip to Winkler for rehearsals on Wednesdays.
Rehearsals begin April 17. Anyone interested can learn more at prairiesoundscape.ca or email prairiesoundscape@gmail.com.

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