After being “Lost in the Stars” with astronaut Roberta Bondar a few short months before, it was back to earth for a retreat at Whistler in August.
Then, Ramona rolled out her new programme for the year… a Young Choral Composers Development Programme. With detailed books for each participant, the first session on October 6th was a demonstration and discussion of choral styles, approaches, textures, writing techniques and other considerations. Using a wide range of choral selections from years of repertoire, Phoenix was able to demonstrate these aspects to twenty eager young composers over the course of a day, and had a huge amount of fun doing so. The composers were then encouraged to spend the next few months writing a new composition and were to return in the spring for another session.
Our fall concert, “Sacred Reflections”, held on November 6th at Canadian Memorial, was a spiritual journey of comparisons. Six sacred texts were chosen, and each text was set twice…by two composers from different eras. The result? A remarkable transformation of text into highly original and moving statements of faith. It was truly an inspired programming idea from Ramona, and hugely successful for singer and audience alike.
Three concerts were in store for Phoenix that Christmas season. The first was a shared concert at Queen’s Avenue United with the Amabilis Singers. Conducted by Anne Wilson Unger, the two choirs had a great time mixing and mingling for joint pieces. The second was at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Surrey. Here, our own Jeff Cabralda brought his choir from Holy Cross Regional High School to begin the programme. Finally, we held our traditional Phoenix Christmas concert at Shaughnessy Heights. We really should mention our dear friend Roy Campbell, who has joined us for years on the organ for sing-alongs and other accompanying duties. Roy is a big part of the Phoenix family!
In January, the second part of the Young Composer’s Programme was held. Thirteen composers attended a read-through workshop. Each piece was critiqued, ideas for further development were suggested, and by the end of the day every piece was recorded for a CD to be sent to each participant. Finally, Phoenix members were asked to rate the pieces - the singers' top four were ultimately chosen to be premiered at our spring concert. It was a very instructive and inspiring day.
The four pieces chosen to be presented at “Revelations”, our April 16th concert at Queen’s Avenue United, were “Sleep” by Anny Chen, “A Light Exists in Spring” by Elizabeth Knudson, “The Fir Woods” by Heather Harty, and “Watching the Cyborg” by Jeff Mettlewsky. As well, there was a world premiere of Eric North’s “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, and our commissioned world premiere of Michael Onwood’s “How Do I Love Thee?” The audience thoroughly enjoyed each composition and had their own personal favourites!
The closing piece for the concert was Eric Whitacre’s “Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine”. The choir so loved this piece that it inspired yet another costume theme party! The beautiful lyrics were the inspiration for a wide range of outfits. And again, the pictures really speak for themselves!
The party would have been the wrap for yet another successful season, but one more performance was unexpectedly required. In early June, Leanne’s mom passed away, after a battle with cancer, and Phoenix had the honour of performing at her memorial. Lilie was an immigrant from Estonia, so Phoenix sang the Psalms by Estonian composer, Cyrillus Kreek, at the event as a special tribute - it was a fitting farewell to a wonderful woman, and long time supporter of Phoenix.
In 2004/2005, Phoenix was…
Brian (Hoot) Gibson
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