After our usual fall retreat, we just HAD to celebrate our sweep of the CBC amateur choral competition (1st Chamber Choir, 1st Contemporary and best choir overall) that had been announced several months before. So, on September 18th we celebrated over a lovely dinner at Sardino’s - a great way to start the season! In October, our first Christmas CD Christmas Is… (named for an arrangement on the CD by Paul Nash) was released at a party hosted by the Magic Flute record store in Kitsilano. Many of us were quite curious to know who that new handsome man was that Leanne had brought with her to the event - a future husband perhaps? (stay tuned for Season 11 for the answer!)
As usual, December was busy with a concert in Chilliwack, the Festival of Christmas at Shaughnessy Heights, another concert at the Vancouver Playhouse, and of course, our Christmas Eve tradition of singing live on the CBC Early Edition programme!
After our January retreat, we took part in UBC Arts Fest, and then headed down to the CBC studio to record our entry for the next EBU “Let the Peoples Sing” competition. That year, the judging was taking place right in Vancouver as part of the World Symposium on Choral Music in August. Such pressure!
Our tour in April took us to beautiful Kaslo, where we participated in the Kaslo Concert Society’s series. We booked into the Kaslo Motel, and the fun began. No details here - sorry. Let’s just say that it was a very fun (and extremely silly) weekend. Let the photos speak for themselves! (Although, I will reveal that the post-concert entertainment included a spirited competition for best instant a capella rendition of television theme songs from the sixties/seventies. Get a group of musicians on tour together, and this is what happens…)
In May we took part in the White Rock Festival of Strings concert series, and then it was time to celebrate our first ten seasons together. Invitations went out to all our alumni to return to sing with us at our concert. We had a fantastic turnout. It was wonderful to see all those familiar faces from the past ten years all brought together. And the sound! Wow! We put on a beautiful concert together. Afterwards we had a gala, where (among other things) we presented Cort with a cheque to buy a greenhouse. Cort was retiring from UBC that spring, and was an avid gardener, so we figured he would have lots of free time to tend to greenhouse plants! After the gala, Barb hosted a party that literally went on all night.
Although it was now June, we still had a lot ahead of us. First, we participated in the farewell concert for Cort’s retirement at UBC. All former UBC Chamber Singers - from 1963 to 1993 - were invited back to perform, to say goodbye and to honour Cort’s 30 year contribution to the choral arts in Vancouver. The throng of ex-students who came back was so large that the alumni came on stage in smaller groups, organized by decade. As many of our Phoenix members were ex-Chamber Singers, we had the opportunity to sing along with each of our “decades” and then Phoenix got to perform separately as well. The evening ended with everyone coming together to sing a rendition of Cort’s arrangement of “When I Fall in Love”. Emotional doesn’t come close to describing the feeling in the hall that night. Our hearts were filled with love, camaraderie and gratitude.
But, back to work. We spent part of June recording our first classical CD, To Music, that included all of Cort’s favourite choral gems. Our season ended with the huge conference in August, The World Symposium on Choral Music. Phoenix was a part of the massed choir Gala Opening on August 1st at the Orpheum, then our own concert was on August 5th at Christ Church Cathedral. You can imagine the pressure, thinking of who would be in the audience! And then, disaster struck. The night before we were to perform, Cort hurt his back so badly he couldn’t conduct us. What to do? Should we withdraw? So, Stuart Tarbuck, one of our basses, offered to conduct us from the sidelines. He stepped forward when needed, but we basically sang leading ourselves, with no one up front. It was scary and challenging, but we pulled it off! Little did we know that there was someone from Europe in the audience that would provide us with an experience of a lifetime, based on what he saw and heard that day…
To top all this off, the “Let the Peoples Sing” competition was being judged that week as well. Given that we had just won the Silver Rose Bowl, we were a bit disappointed with our results, but we shouldn’t have been. We placed third in the world for the Chamber Choir category, second in the Contemporary category, and second in the Experimental category. Not too shabby, by all measures!
Our last event was, of course, our annual Beer BBQ, that - sadly - was rained on for the first time ever. But we did meet long enough to present Stuart Tarbuck with some gifts in thanks for conducting us at that fateful concert.
Wow. Ten Years of Phoenix. Who would have predicted in 1983 when it all started how far we would come in ten short seasons? And, who could have guessed how much MORE there was to come?
In 1992/1993 Phoenix was…
Leanne Patenaude (Dalton)
Deborah Mehes (Gibson)
Brian (Hoot) Gibson
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