There was a sad farewell, but an exciting new beginning, as well! Phoenix began the season knowing it was Cortland Hultberg’s last year as our conductor, having announced his retirement at our AGM. We all decided that we wanted to keep singing together, so in September we began advertising for a new conductor to lead Phoenix. We planned to audition candidates throughout the spring.
Our season started off, not with a retreat this time, but with a CBC sponsored joint concert featuring the most recent CBC Choral Competition winners. On September 25 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, six of Canada’s finest choirs – all first prize winners in their categories and all from Vancouver – joined forces to perform and be recorded for a CBC broadcast. It was hard for the host, David Grierson, not to make some glowing (gloating?) comments to listeners in Toronto regarding the talent on the west coast! In October, we held our fall retreat where we prepared for our November 5th fall concert. This programme was shared with the Cornucopia Brass Ensemble. In December we took part in a new concert series, Music in the Market, where we performed at the Arts Club Revue Theatre on Granville Island. Our Christmas concert was held at the Vancouver Playhouse, and once again we sang live on the CBC’s Early Edition Christmas Eve show.
By January we had twelve candidates wishing to audition to become the new conductor of Phoenix. We held our spring retreat in March, and auditioned the shortlisted candidates throughout the spring. By April, the choir had made their decision. Our new conductor would be - Ramona Luengen! Ramona wowed us with her musicality, programming skills, deep knowledge of choral music, that beautiful gem of a piece she brought along for our sight reading portion of the audition, and her fabulous sense of humour. We could tell future rehearsals were going to be intense but lots of fun!
But… we still needed to say farewell properly to Cort, and on Saturday April 22, we held our final Spring Concert. We performed a new piece “Return to Xanadu” commissioned especially for this concert by Peter Bjerring. A reception and presentation were held afterwards, giving loyal audience members a chance to say thank you and farewell. As hard as it was for all of us in Phoenix to say good bye to Cort, we knew that he was looking forward to working in his garden and finally relaxing.
We had two summer BBQs to wrap up the season. Margaret Barry hosted one at her family cabin in Tsawwassen, and the Pauls held one at their home in August.
And, after twelve unbelievable seasons, it was finally time to say good bye to the first Phoenix era, and to our beloved founder, Cortland Hultberg. But – never fear – the Phoenix rises! The next era of Phoenix, with Ramona Luengen, would prove to be just as exciting as the first!
In 1994/1995 Phoenix was…
Deborah Mehes (Gibson)
Brian (Hoot) Gibson
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