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Phoenix Rises! Our First Season - 1983/1984

14 Apr. 2013 Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If you've ever wondered why our choir is named Phoenix, wonder no more - the story goes like this.

Phoenix "rose from the ashes" of a previous choir called the Chrysalis Vocal Consort, founded in 1979 as an auxiliary group to the Vancouver Cantata Singers and conducted by James Fankhauser. Unfortunately, by the spring of 1982, James Fankhauser's workload had become too great, and the last choir in had to be the first to go!

Conductorless (and nameless) we continued singing together through the end of 1982 and into the fall of 1983. We were simply unwilling to stop - conductor or no. But, we did give the little orphan choir a temporary name, at least. We called it "Doug". (First choir EVER to be called that, I'm guessing...) We even continued the tradition of holding a fall retreat.


While on retreat we discussed asking Cortland Hultberg, then conductor of the UBC Chamber Singers and professor of Music at UBC, to become our conductor.

And he said yes! So, in October 1983, we officially had a conductor. But still no name.

In the spring of 1984, although we hadn't yet sung our first official concert, we entered our very first CBC Choral Competition. But, we had no name for the entry form. At the last minute, Cortland, along with the choir president/bass Bill Paul, had an inspiration. They named us “The Phoenix Chamber Choir”. And, we won! First prize in the Contemporary Category. Not bad for our first try!

Encouraged by our national success, we headed to Victoria on April 1st, 1984 to sing our first official concert at Christ Church Cathedral.


Phoenix, an 18 voice ensemble, offered its audience a new approach to choral music, emphasizing the unusual and adventurous aspects of the repertoire. Our first programme ranged from Monteverdi and Gesualdo, to brand new pieces and arrangements by Richard Kidd, Stephen Chatman, and Ron Smail. A piece that was to become one of Cortland Hultberg’s most beloved arrangements, “When I Fall in Love”, was performed at that inaugural concert as well. We finished our first season by having our Vancouver premiere at the Canadian Memorial Church on April 11, 1984.

None of us had any idea that we had embarked on a journey that was to continue for 30 years….and counting!


See any faces you recognize?

In 1983-1984 Phoenix was...

Sopranos Altos Tenors Basses

Barbara Del Maso

Janet Kidd (Hassell)

Rosemary Lister (Lindsay)

Carolyn Tupper

Deborah Mehes (Gibson)

Shannon Lythgoe

Barb Paul

Josie Martens

Mark Donnelly

Stephen Grant

Ron Smail

John Whyte

Elliott Dainow

Richard Kidd

Al McLellan

Michael Murray

Bill Paul

Bill Vermeulen

Want to keep reading?  Season 2, 1984/1985 is here.


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