We were filled with excitement and anticipation as we started our 1996-1997 season…our first European tour was on the horizon! We began with an August retreat at Whistler where we worked hard on the repertoire for the trip.
At the end of August we were hired to perform for a conference at the Westin Bayshore. The group’s name was “Collegium Oto-Rhino-Laryngologicum Amicitiae Sacrum”. Well, sure – I guess? Something to do with ear, nose and throat apparently, but regardless of our inability to figure out exactly who they were, they were very appreciative of our vocal talents! On October 11, we performed a “Copenhagen Send-Off" concert at Shaughnessy Heights United. And, seven days later, we were in the air! We had brand new and very cool purple Phoenix sweatshirts to wear, thanks to a generous donation from a Phoenix Family member. Yay, Phoenix Family!
As flights sometimes go, this one definitely had its issues. We arrived in London to discover that our flight to Copenhagen was full and we were NOT on it! After much negotiation, we were eventually rerouted to Dusseldorf. Well, things were not going well in Dusseldorf, either. The airport had recently burnt down, and the Arrivals Hall was situated in a tent on a deserted army base! We did eventually arrive at our destination – but only half our luggage arrived with us. Sigh.
As The Choir-in-Residence for the Copenhagen Choral Festival, our main responsibility was to participate and support singers of all levels in a three-day workshop on Scandinavian Choral music. We also performed at the Opening Gala Concert at the Broadcasting House, home to the National Danish Radio. Our final event was our own concert at Holmens Kirke. This concert was recorded and broadcast by the National Danish Radio and was later released on the CD Phoenix – Live in Copenhagen. This left plenty of time for intense daily rehearsals, sightseeing, shopping, and attending workshops put on by the Swingle Singers, the other guest choir. The Swingle Singers became great supporters of Phoenix – and it was mutual. What an amazing ten days!
Soon it was Christmas again, with our traditional concert at Shaughnessy Heights as well as our Christmas Eve performance on the CBC’s Early Edition. In January, we held our retreat at Kim Tompkins’ complex and prepared for a Celebrity Breakfast Auction fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation in February. Miles Ramsay wrote a special arrangement of heart themed songs for us to sing at the event, and the audience was challenged to figure out how many songs were wedged into the arrangement! It provided a lot of fun! In April we performed our Spring concert titled "If Music Be the Food of Love", and released our Phoenix – Live in Copenhagen CD. In May we had a brainstorming session where we pondered the future of Phoenix – our vision, our strengths, our concerns, and our dreams. It was very useful and helped us plan the road ahead. Our season finished with a get together in July at Margaret Barry’s cottage in Tsawwassen. What a great season. It was going to be hard to top this year!
In 1996/1997 Phoenix was…
Brian (Hoot) Gibson
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