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Metro explores the latest trends emerging on the West Coast of Canada.

Vancouver trending: rock choirs on the rise

People on the search for community, or simply just wanting to belt out the classics are flocking to community rock choirs, writes Amy Logan.

As a member of a roots country band for a decade, Jenny Ritter loved singing harmonies.

But after her band broke up, she found herself yearning to sing with other people again, and started teaching a group of friends vocal harmony basics.

Within a month, she had 16 people. That group has now ballooned into two full choirs of about 35 people each. Their repertoire ranges from current songs by Lorde and The National to older music by the likes of Joni Mitchell and Cyndi Lauper.

"Rock choirs are completely blowing up around here," said Ritter, founder and choir director of the Kingsgate Chorus and Mount Pleasant Regional Institute of Sound.

“People aren't really attending church in the same way they used to. But they are still looking for community, a chance to feel like they're a part of something."

One friend and choir member, Ian Bryce, has started his own rock choir, ESCHOIR, and all three groups operate under the umbrella of the East Van Choir Collective.

"People have met in the choirs and made great friendships, romantic relationships, and even new job opportunities," Ritter said.

Fiona Sizer, who along with music director Matt Smith, helps organize and promote the Impromptu Rock Choir has also seen an increasing number of Vancouverites seeking out the relaxed vibe and sense of community that a rock choir offers.

Sizer just wanted to sing, but after joining several traditional choirs, she grew frustrated with restrictive rules like "no perfume" and "no laughing," she said. Impromptu has no auditions, and there is no need to know how to read music.

"There is something very bonding about singing in a group," said Sizer, adding that for some members, joining the choir has helped them feel less isolated and others have told her that it has "saved their lives."

With drop-in nights in East Van Tuesday nights and North Van Thursdays, they have just added a third location in Kitsilano on Wednesday nights due to growing demand. Material ranges from Florence and the Machine and Blur to Bowie and Prince.

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