The season began at our annual August retreat in Whistler at Tantalus Lodge, where we quickly prepared to be the featured entertainment at the Vancouver Sunrise 3rd Annual “Rotary Salutes the Arts” Evening in late September. Not only did we perform, but we were also the grateful beneficiaries of half the proceeds of the silent auction! By the time our fall concert came around (held at the Holy Rosary Cathedral that season) we were able to offer for sale our latest CD, “The Huron Carol”. It received glowing reviews…“Magic, everything a Christmas album should be- sustained in mood, yet artfully varied within. A keeper. You won’t be disappointed.”
In November we took part in the Chilliwack Concert Series at the Chilliwack Arts Centre, and the concert was very well received. Later in the month was the annual Toy Drive sponsored by KISS FM held at the Pan Pacific. BCTV televised the Phoenix performance, even though singing at 7am is hardly the best time of the day for vocalists!
In December we held our traditional Christmas concert at Shaughnessy Heights United, which completely sold out. We had to open up the gym as well as the hall to fit everyone in for baking and hot apple cider at the reception after the show! The review of the concert was wonderful and helped fuel us to wake up on Christmas Eve at the crack of dawn to sing on the CBC Early Edition.
In January, our first job was to record our entry for that year’s CBC Choral Competition. Next, our own Mike Angell led a BCCF Vocal Jazz Workshop featuring Phoenix as the demonstration choir.
Rehearsals continued through the spring with a guest appearance in March at the Capilano College Auditorium, and then on to a concert in the Chan Centre in early April. That concert was not one to be missed. It was called A Radio CBCelebration, and what a line up it was! Dreamed up by the wonderful Diane Loomer, its purpose was to honour CBC Radio for their support of the choral community and to feature past CBC Choral Competition winners that ALL came from the lower mainland! What an amazing afternoon it was. April wrapped up with our spring concert titled “On the Edge: A Century in Perspective”.
A brand new twist for that year’s CBC Choral Competition was introduced as the May finals approached. A live-to-air final round was to take place across Canada on two consecutive evenings. Adjudication would take place immediately and winners would be announced on air at the completion of each category - talk about nerve-wracking! Well, you can tell by Ramona’s face in the photos that we received good news after our performances. Phoenix was awarded first place in the Chamber Choir Category and second place in the Contemporary Category. It was a glorious moment!
But wait – the season was not yet near over! In July, we were invited to take part in the Banff Arts Festival 2000. From July 5 to 16 we were guests of the Banff Centre for the Arts, and it was an amazing experience for us. The incredible beauty of the natural surroundings, and the fabulous accommodations and performance spaces at the Centre itself were second to none. Phoenix was able to put on our own performances at Rolston Hall as well as at St. George’s Anglican Church in Banff. But the biggest highlight of the trip was working all week with Krzysztof Penderecki himself (named the “International Composer of the Year”), on the Canadian Premiere of his work “Credo”. This mammoth work was for five soloists, full chorus, children’s choir, and full orchestra. Who could forget his demand for “apocalyptic” trombone playing, or the truly insane percussion parts played so ably by a young student percussionist? The concert, titled “Nights of Premieres” also featured Imant Raminsh conducting the world premiere of his own work “Recordare”. The whole experience in Banff was unbelievable, and was definitely hard to top.
But – our incredible millennial season was still not over! Phoenix was privileged to take part in three events as part of the very FIRST Festival Vancouver! On July 29th, we held our own concert titled “Elements of Heaven and Earth”. On August 1st, we took part in “Transformations: Hear My Prayer O Lord” where Phoenix, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Elektra, and musica intima each performed this text set by different composers. And, our final contribution, sharing the programme with those same choirs, was the “Salute to B.C. Music” on August 7th. Wow. What a season. What an amazing year. And, what a welcome for the new Millennium!
In 1999/2000 Phoenix was…
Danielle Hamilton (Hoskins)
Brian (Hoot) Gibson
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