Due to Ramona’s sabbatical, our official Phoenix season did not start until the end of November. Ramona spent September to November sitting in on rehearsals, attending concerts and meeting conductors in both Germany and England.
And, while Ramona was away, we were given the opportunity to try some new things - first of all, we got to work with Dee Daniels and Fred Stride to put on a fundraising performance of Duke Ellington’s “Sacred Music” at St. Andrew’s-Wesley on November 20th. It was an amazing evening, with Fred’s fantastic band, Dee and her incredible voice, and even a tap dancer! The place was packed to the rafters and has actually become an annual event, due to its success that night. We were fortunate to have Mike Angell and Magdy Ghobrial as co-conductors to rehearse us so ably in Ramona’s absence. Thanks, guys!
Upon Ramona’s return to us, rehearsals began in earnest for our traditional Christmas concert, beginning with a fall retreat and dinner at Barb Paul’s afterwards.
We performed our Christmas concert twice. On Saturday, December 19, we sang at the North Langley Community Church and the next night we were back at Shaughnessy Heights United, with our great friend Roy Campbell accompanying us on the organ.
But first, another new thing! If you recall, Phoenix was hired to sing seven pieces in Armenian at a wedding a few years previously. Our Armenian was apparently quite flawless (due entirely to the amazing phonetics and musicality of Father Housig) and resulted in us being asked to another Armenian gig in early February! The concert was to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the birth of Komitas Vartabed, the great Armenian musician who rediscovered Armenian medieval music and had the vision to record ancient peasant music from villages around the country. The audience packed the large church and was moved to tears to hear music from their homeland. The appreciation that was poured over Phoenix was so uplifting! And, the Armenian community was also incredibly hospitable - they provided us with a light dinner before the concert and a wine and cheese reception afterwards.
Another new thing for Phoenix was the plan to perform two different concerts in the spring, less than four weeks apart! It was an incredible challenge to rehearse both sets of repertoire simultaneously. As well, we continued to fill our obligation as choir in residence at Shaughnessy Heights by singing at an April church service and holding open rehearsals.
On May 7th, we took our first set of repertoire to the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium attached to the Abbotsford City Hall for the Fraser Valley Concert Series. This performance helped us prepare for our concert the very next day at Shaughnessy Heights. The concert was titled, “On the Threshold of Heaven” and it was hoped that “through the inspired works of such composers perhaps we too can capture a glimpse of paradise.”
And, less than a month later, we were back again with “Britain Exposed!” This was a journey through the history of British music from medieval times, with stops in the Victorian Age, the 20th and 21st century and ending with a touch of the Proms! The concert was really fun for chorister and audience member alike!
Our last performance of the season was as a part of “Songfire”, a Festival of Song put on by the Vancouver International Song Institute. On June 13th, we participated, along with the Lyric Singers, In “BC Birthdays with a touch of Barber”, celebrating Barber’s 100th birthday. The concert, and our 27th season, ended on a sweet note, with birthday cake for all!
In 2009/2010, Phoenix was…
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