Parkland Men’s Choir marks 25 years

A Central Alberta singing group will soon be marking 25 years of making music at a special celebration on April 26.

The Parkland Men’s Choir is hosting the anniversary party at Woody Nook Church west of Blackfalds starting at 7 p.m. Several special guests will be featured including Potter’s Clay, Marla Torgerson and saxophone player Charles Stolte.

A free will offering will be taken as well. There is no charge to attend.

The Choir is a volunteer group of Christian men from Central Alberta who love to share their faith and love for God through the medium of music.

Allan Stolte, a member of the group since the very beginning, said the celebration is a way to mark 25 years of sharing their music as well as encouraging newcomers to sign up. Another highlight will be having all the former members in attendance join the current choir for a special number during the course of the evening.

“We enjoy doing upbeat Christian music like southern gospel,” he added. “The theme of the evening is really about celebrating God’s goodness to us. We want people’s hearts to be singing as they drive home.”

Twenty-five years ago, Frank Tolsma had the vision to start up the choir. It all began in early 1989 with about 24 men, who were mostly from the Woody Nook Christian Reformed Church.

The pianist was Adolf Opdendries from Red Deer.

In the spring of 1989 the Choir was invited to join other Alberta men’s choirs in Calgary to sing a given set of songs, which they all performed in different ways. At that concert, the Parkland Choir was very well-received, which was very encouraging for a new group. From that humble beginning the group grew to 60 voices from 19 churches and 12 denominations.

The directors and pianists have changed over the years. The choir started under the direction of Tolsma followed by Carolyn Neufeld, Dale Dickau, and it is currently being directed by Larry Johnson.

The pianists have also changed over the years starting with Opdendries, Dawn Tuininga, Ruth Hafso, Neufeld, Sharon Dickau, Bev McIvar, John Stoutley, Dale Dickau, Joan Tancock-Polino and presently Brenda Klosse.

The men have shared their music in a number of locations as well, from the Bowden Penitentiary, the Youth Offender Center in Edmonton and several churches in Edmonton, Calgary, Bow Island, High River, Brooks, Lethbridge and Wetaskiwin to events and churches in Caroline, Clive, Ponoka, Rimbey, Bentley, many places in Red Deer and Lacombe, Stettler, Three Hills and Rocky Mountain House among others.

They were also honoured to sing at the Winspear Center in Edmonton and at the Red Deer hospital where we sang for Tolsma, who was a patient there.

“I absolutely love it,” explains Allan. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a good practice or a bad one, the music just speaks to the heart. It’s the same with a lot of the music that we sing – it’s got a message.”

The choir season extends from about mid-September to the end of April each year.

Practices run from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. every Monday evening at Woody Nook Christian Reformed Church.

For more information, check out or call Larry at 403-782-1443, Allan at 403-885-4379 or Clarence at 403-343-2577.

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