But Season 20 started promptly, and we were performing again on September 15th as part of a service at Shaughnessy Heights. Our retreat in early October was spent preparing for a triple concert series in November. The program was a gorgeous Cortland Hultberg tribute concert, filled with Cort’s favourite repertoire.
Anyone who sang with Cort in Phoenix or in his UBC Chamber Singers was filled with poignancy at the repertoire choices…Barber’s “Reincarnations”, Elliot Carter’s “Musicians Wrestle” and “To Music”, Barney Childs’ “Nine Choral Fragments”, Ravel’s “Trois Chansons”, Sallinen’s “Beaufort Scale”, and then a collection of Cort’s jazz arrangements…what a line up! The first two concerts were held at Shaughnessy Heights and at the Richmond Gateway Theatre.
On Thursday November 7th, we gave our third performance of the tribute program, this time in the Recital Hall at the UBC School of Music. Before the concert began, we all gathered outside the main doors of the Music Building for a short ceremony. Fundraising for a memorial bench had been going on all year, since Cort’s passing the previous January. His family stood with us to unveil the bench that, today, still entices every passing student to take a rest there…From Phoenix Chamber Choir and all the students of Cortland Hultberg ‘Our Lives Have Been Changed By Your Gentle Spirit’. With his children and grandchildren looking on, Cort’s wife, Jeannette, cut the ribbon and the bench was officially dedicated to his memory. To sing after that was difficult indeed, but we felt his presence in the hall as we sang his favourite music, with love in our hearts.
After the emotion of the fall tribute concerts, luckily, we had a new and exciting project to look forward to…the release of our double CD from the tour, “Live from Europe”. Many, many hours were put into the production of this CD set, of which Ramona was justifiably proud. And it received great reviews, too!
Before we knew it, Christmas was upon us. We performed our traditional Christmas concert at both Killarney Park and Shaughnessy Heights that season. And, at these concerts we presented the world premiere of Stephen Chatman’s “Carols of the Nativity”, a seven carol set - they were a great audience pleaser! And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Phoenix Christmas without a trip to the CBC’s Early Edition Christmas Eve show.
For our spring program, we realized a long time dream of Ramona’s – to perform Frank Martin’s “Mass for Double Choir”. To be able to perform it successfully we augmented the choir with extra singers (to a total of 25!) The second half of the program was a collection of Russian pieces that took three years for Ramona to track down. Ramona first heard the pieces on a CD performed by the Russian Chamber Choir, Lege Artis, and she fell in love with them. With the help of the manager of Lege Artis, scores eventually made their way to a former member of their choir, who had become the director of Choral Studies at San José University. From there the scores made their way to Canada. It was an honour to be able to give the North American premiere of this amazing Russian collection.
Two more concerts rounded out our season. The first was at the Inlet Theatre in Port Moody as part of Port Moody’s Festival of the Arts, and the second was at Queen’s Avenue United.
As Phoenix is known to do, a theme party was planned to wrap up the season. And of course, having sung so much Russian music, the theme was All Things Russian! Well, what can we say – let the photos speak for themselves! Ramona outdid herself, not only with her cryptic costume, but also by writing a limerick for every singer and giving a gift to go with it! We think it is safe to say that this was a party that has never been matched!
In 2002/2003, Phoenix was…
Danielle Hamilton (Hoskins)
Brian (Hoot) Gibson
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