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Coquitlam Chorale gives a spring lift with music to signal 'normalcy'

Coquitlam Chorale's Justin Maller said the spring show “is about coming back to normalcy and being connected again. It’s been an emotional time.”

Justin Maller can remember attending a district-wide chorale concert at Viscount Alexander Elementary in Port Coquitlam and hearing the Coquitlam Chorale sing.

Three decades on — after he obtained his music degree from UBC and worked as a music teacher in Delta — Maller became the artistic director of the group.

“It was like coming full circle,” said Maller of his appointment in 2004.

Now the drama, theatre production and musical theatre instructor at Coquitlam’s Gleneagle Secondary, Maller is readying his choir of 58 singers for its first spring show since 2020, when the world was put on hold for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Called Opening Up! the concert on April 8 and 9 takes its name from the title of the Sara Bareilles’ song in the musical theatre hit Waitress.

That tune will be one of about dozen that will be performed in their rehearsal space at Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship Church (1160 Lansdowne Dr., Coquitlam).

The others include songs from 

  • Dear Evan Hansen (“You Will Be Found” and “For Forever”)
  • The Greatest Showman (“A Million Dreams”)
  • The Rankin Family (“We Rise Again”)
  • the late Stephen Sondheim (“No One Is Alone” and “Send in the Clowns”)

The concert is meant to give a lift after two years of isolation.

“We couldn’t get together from March 2020 to the fall of 2021,” Maller told the Tri-City News before the March 21 practice. “It was hard for many members because this may be their only outing for the week. And we couldn’t really do virtual rehearsals.”

Maller said their spring show, with accompanist Lorna Yeates, “is about coming back to normalcy and being connected again. It’s been an emotional time.”

His family will be on stage with him: his wife; two sons, both Capilano University students; and daughter, Elizabeth, who graduates from Gleneagle in June.

A Centennial Secondary graduate, Maller said he hopes Coquitlam Chorale will soon be able to return for its regular community outreach with performances at seniors homes, including Parkwood Manor in Coquitlam and the Port Coquitlam Legion.

• Tickets for Opening Up! on April 8 at 7:30 p.m. and April 9 at 2 p.m. are $25/$20/$10 via The choir will also start recruiting in September.