Our fall retreat at St. Edward’s in Richmond on Saturday, September 13th kicked off a very exciting season. After a long day of rehearsing we headed over to Barb Paul’s home for dinner, margaritas and the AGM, and some ended up in the hot tub to finish off the night!
The 25th anniversary was celebrated in November over a number of days. With 23 alumni joining us for the final pieces on the programme, we almost doubled our size! We rehearsed together on the final Tuesday before the concert, and then headed over to the gorgeous home of Marilyn Thorsteinsson for a wine and cheese reception. The Phoenix family was reunited! There was much reminiscing and catching up to be done. Speeches were given and toasts were made. Special anniversary wine glasses were distributed to all. It was a great evening!
Each piece on the programme was meaningful and chosen with great care – be it from a certain competition win, a tour, CD, or the very first Phoenix concert ever! Three pieces were commissioned by Phoenix and given world premieres. They were composed Kelly-Ann Murphy (Quiver), Kathleen Lee (Psalm 8), and Eric North (Flame). All three premiere pieces were very warmly received by the audience. Then our 23 alumni members came up and joined us for the final three selections. What an amazing sound that was!
After the concert a reception was held in the church hall where we thanked Ramona for her hard work, dedication and musical leadership. In his speech, our president Mike Angell took some credit, saying that due to Ramona doing her teaching practicum at his school in the 80’s, her experience there turned her away from public education forever! Education’s loss was definitely our gain!
The other exciting event during this time was the release of our latest CD “The Road Less Travelled”. Filled with beautiful music in stunning locations and acoustics from our 2007 tour of Germany and Czech Republic, it was skillfully recorded by Don Harder. We were so thrilled to have it in time for our 25th anniversary celebration.
And, oh so quickly, Christmas was upon us once again. We performed our traditional Christmas concert at two locations this year – once at St. Joseph’s in Langley, and the next day at our home venue at Shaughnessy Heights United. Unfortunately, the lower mainland was hit with somewhat of a west coast blizzard that weekend, but our faithful audiences did not let us down, and those that could trekked their way through the heavy snowfall! And again, the Sound Wave Handbell Choir, under the direction of our own Janet Kyle, added that special touch that makes it all seem so much more Christmas-y! Special thanks to Janet for all the work and preparation it takes to move and set up all the bells, supervise students, conduct, and still perform for Phoenix so well!
Another hugely exciting project was ahead for Phoenix in the spring. We met for our January retreat and read through what was to become one of our all time favourite works – “The Path of Miracles” by British composer, Joby Talbot. This 70-minute piece took us on our own journey all spring as the music introduced us to towns along the pilgrimage route on the way to Santiago de Compostela.
But first, we had a stop along the way on March 29th at Jacks Pub where we had a fundraiser and silent auction. The committee worked hard to put together this event and everyone enjoyed themselves!
Finally May arrived. The Royal Bank Theatre at the Chan Centre was booked for our special guest lecturer, Dr. Conrad Black, a professor of Medieval Art History at the University of California, who was flown in by Phoenix to give a special lecture-presentation. His talk and photos of his own 2 ½ month journey along the pilgrimage route gave another layer of insight to us as performers, and to the audience.
We were lucky enough to be able to perform excerpts of “The Path of Miracles” at a Shaughnessy Heights church service as part of our commitment as choir-in-residence. Then we performed the entire work at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church, accompanied by a powerpoint of images along the route. And finally, on May 30th we gave the season performance at Shaughnessy Heights. After 70 straight minutes of singing, with the movements reflecting the terrain, the gruelling nature of the walk, the history, and the spirituality gained en route, both the audience members and the singers felt like they too had walked “The Path of Miracles” all the way to Santiago de Compostela. To date, the Phoenicians who had the privilege of singing that concert agree that it was one of the most, if not THE most, important choral experiences of their lives.
What a great 25th anniversary year it was. And, as is tradition, we wrapped the season up with a pool party at Barb Paul’s. What journey would Phoenix be on next season?
In 2008/2009, Phoenix was…
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