2011/2012 was titled a “Season of Illumination”, and it provided us with some of the most beautiful music Phoenix had ever sung. But first, the season began, as usual, with a September retreat at St. Edward’s in Richmond. After retreat we finished off the evening with pizza and a party at Barb Paul’s home.
In early November, during our dress rehearsal, we took a break to recognize Ramona and her fifteenth anniversary as our conductor (a little belated), sharing a delicious cake provided by Manako. The next night we performed “The Path of the Pilgrim” at Shaughnessy Heights, and repeated the performance the following day at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Surrey. Pieces were chosen with care to reflect the pilgrim’s journey, starting with “a prayer before embarking upon the pilgrimage”, and then “the journey begins, as the pilgrims invoke God’s blessing and assistance.” The next set of pieces portrayed “a long and difficult road ahead, filled with both darkness and light…” The programme concluded with pieces reflecting pilgrimages to Santiago, Jerusalem and other paths. Once again, Ramona demonstrated her brilliance at programming!
There were two performances at Christmas that year; first at the New Westminster Christian Reformed Church in Burnaby on Saturday December 17, and then our traditional concert at Shaughnessy Heights United on the Sunday evening. We were very fortunate to have the sweet young voices of the Burnaby District Youth Choir, under the direction of our own Patti Fletcher, join us for the shows. They did an excellent job and made their director very proud! Christmas caroling at various locations around town rounded out the Christmas season for Phoenix.
At the end of January, we held another retreat and began working on the absolutely stunning piece “Luminosity” by James Whitbourn. This was performed in the Holy Rosary Cathedral on Saturday March 17th and was the perfect piece for the wonderfully reverberant acoustic. The work included accompaniment on viola, played by Beth Nickel, tanpura, played by Harkeerat Mangat, percussion, played by Julia Chien, and organ, played by our beloved Roy Campbell. Chant by Bingen, and pieces by Silvestrov, Schnittke, Ticheli, Whitacre, and Mahler took full advantage of the gorgeous acoustic. Ramona was to say later that it was one of our finest concerts ever.
And then, on Monday March 19, after 17 seasons at the helm, Ramona submitted her letter of resignation as the Artistic Director of Phoenix, to take effect at the end of the season. Our final performance together was another wonderful concert for the Armenian community – an engagement at St. Gregory Armenian Church on May 7th, where we performed nine pieces in Armenian, with the help of Father Housig, of course!
On June 1st, at Edible Canada Bistro on Granville Island, a celebratory dinner was held to honour Ramona and her 17 seasons as the Artistic Director of Phoenix. Many, many alumni and guests joined us in recognizing the wonderful journey that Ramona had taken us on. And, Manako put together an amazing tribute – 17 gifts! One for each season that Ramona was our leader, and each one with a special story. And, all beautifully presented, of course! (That’s our Manako!) Lots of stories were told at the open mic and it was a very poignant and touching evening. We thanked Ramona for her dedication, said our goodbyes, and wished her well with her future endeavours.
And, with that – the second era of Phoenix ended. But, the Phoenix always rises – what was in store for us in Season 30?
In 2011/2012, Phoenix was…
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