Phoenix celebrated its 20th anniversary season with a new performance home and an extraordinary special guest, astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar!
Due to a new congregation moving into Shaughnessy Heights, access to space at our home church was limited, so Phoenix sought out a new venue for our twentieth anniversary season. Queen’s Avenue United in New Westminster welcomed us and we were happy to hold our first concert of the season there on November 15th.
Titled, “From Both Sides Now”, the concert celebrated “Woman as Composer and Muse”, and featured music – both by and about women – of all styles and genres from the Middle Ages right up to the 21st century. We were thrilled to perform the world premiere of “Re-member Us” by Vancouver composer Leslie Uyeda, as well as the world premiere of Jonathan Rathbone’s “Skye Boat Song” – arranged specially for Phoenix as part of the deal we had made with the Swingle Singers composer to arrange five pieces for us over five years.
Two concerts were held in December as part of our busy Christmas season. Our first was a joint concert with Vancouver City Singers performed at Canadian Memorial United church. Our traditional Phoenix Christmas concert was held the next evening back at Shaughnessy Heights United, and featured our own Brian Day on guitar, accompanying us for the Mexican carol “El Rorro”.
It was decided to forgo participation in the CBC Choral Competition that year, so our sole focus at the January retreat became our spring event with astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar. Planning for the concert was a mammoth task, but by the time May 15th arrived, we were ready. We provided the audience with an unforgettable evening with Canada’s first woman in space. A scientist, physician and photographer, Dr. Bondar’s images of the earth and space, and her eloquent thoughts and insights regarding the awe-inspiring beauty of our world, were interspersed with “other-worldly” compositions sung by the choir. Featured music included Lux Aeterna by Ligeti (made famous in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey) as well as the world premiere of Miles Ramsay’s arrangement of “Lost in the Stars”. The concert was a huge success and Dr. Bondar was very “down to earth”(!) spending time chatting with young and old alike afterwards.
After the concert, a 20th anniversary reception was held at the Orange Room, a local New Westminster restaurant. Speeches were given, and those who had worked so hard for Phoenix over the years were recognized. Guests enjoyed spending some time with Dr. Bondar as well as Martha Lou Henley, another special and honoured guest.
The season ended with Festival Vancouver in August. Phoenix shared the programme with musica intima and Chor Leoni in a “Salute to B.C. Music”. And in typical Phoenix fashion, a pool party was held afterwards to celebrate reaching the 20th anniversary milestone, and yet another successful year!
In 2003/2004, Phoenix was…
Brian (Hoot) Gibson
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