Northwestern Singers Disband After 70 Years, but the voices in the chorus will live on

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(ABC 6 NEWS) – One Austin singing group is disbanding after 70 years.

There are many memories, over many years.

“Music can build a bridge and it can tear down walls. Music is the language that can speak to one and all,” Alice Holst, member of Northwestern Singers said. “I would go down to the bandshell in Albert Lea. When there was nobody there, I would sing my heart out to the birds and whoever was there, I love singing.”

“The arts are essential, I can’t imagine my life without music in it,” Scott Blankenbaker, former director of the Northwestern Singers said.

Two musicians, one purpose. Over the years, this group brought Alice and Scott Together. Alice, a singer. Scott, the director.

“It’s a good time to work with people my age and older,” Blankenbaker said.

The Northwestern Singers got its start in the Austin community in the 1950s as a male chorus. Twenty years later, women joined the group.

Alice was one of them.

“There’s so many people that made it happen over the years,” Holst said.

They performed all over town at schools and anywhere where they could land a gig. They sang classical songs and even let loose and had a good time performing show choir.

“Cowboy hats and cowboy boots. We did a lot of really cool stuff that proved we can sing and do a lot of crazy numbers,” Holst said.

As years passed, their harmony grew. The organization was funded by the community. People would donate to keep seeing the group perform again and again.

“We have given $64,000 to the school music programs here,” Holst said.

It seemed like nothing could stop the tune.

“It’s like everything else in life, it will lead to something equally good or better,” Holst said.

Covid-19 changed the world and hit every community. The Northwestern Singers couldn’t have any shows, their finances from the community, gone. Picking up the pieces was tough and membership declined, but the passion for the arts lives on.

“We’re intending to engage in all aspects of music and engage the community more. Instead of people expecting to come to us all the time, we want to embrace our community of Austin,” Blankenbaker said.

That will be seen through the Austin Community Choir, a group expanding on what made the Northwestern Singers so great. That drive to make a difference will keep future generations inspired for years to come.

“All of the history is in a shoe box. Going through it I realized what a wonderful family I had,” Holst said.

If you’d like to join the Austin Community Choir, visit this link.