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Chamber choir performs for penitentiary inmates

Members of the King's Chamber Choir put on a Christmas Lessons and Carols service for inmates of the Edmonton Institution, a federal maximum security prison for inmates serving two years to life.

The King's Univeristy Chamber Choir
The King's Univeristy Chamber Choir

Christmas 2019 was a special one for members of King’s Chamber Choir and choral director, Dr. Melanie Turgeon. The choir, along with King’s professors Arlette Zinck and Jeffrey Dudiak, put on a Christmas Lessons and Carols service for inmates of the Edmonton Institution, a federal maximum security prison for inmates serving two years to life.

“It was a meaningful day for all of us, particularly for our students,” says Turgeon.

The Chamber Choir performed a number of songs for the inmates in attendance. Due to space limitations and security concerns, not all inmates were able to attend the service in person; however, it was broadcast throughout the entire institution for all to enjoy. Along with carols, Drs. Zinck and Dudiak lead readings and encouraged inmates to participate in the service by reading passages as well.

“The inmates cheered each other on as they approached the microphone to read, and applauded loudly after each song the choir sang. These outreach opportunities have proven to be some of the most insightful days of my career,” states Turgeon.

The opportunity to perform rose out of the relationship Zinck has established with the Edmonton Institution through the
Post-Secondary Prison Education Foundation (PSPEF). Since 2013, incarcerated learners have been able to take university courses while completing their sentences.

“I believe that everyone deserves extra joy around Christmas time,” explains King’s student and member of the Chamber Choir, Jubert Famador. “It was a real privilege to be even a small part of bringing joy to these members of our community.”

This event aligns with the choir’s renewed emphasis on performing for marginalized and vulnerable members of our community. The choir plans to return to the Edmonton Institution for Easter.

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