Phoenix said goodbye at the close of Season 29 to Dr. Ramona Luengen, conductor of Phoenix for 17 years. Of course, work started right away on a search to find our new conductor. And, we were thrilled to find that as soon as the search was launched, we had interest from as far away as Singapore, England, and the USA, not to mention right here in Canada. To celebrate our new beginning, a pool party and BBQ was held at Barb Paul’s. Naturally.
Applicants were shortlisted and choir members attended two nights of auditions in July to meet the outstanding candidates. Those auditions were followed by a pretty intense interview process, and, voila! - our new conductor was chosen and hired by August 1st.
Introducing…Dr. Graeme Langager! Graeme was a perfect fit for Phoenix, in so many ways, and it was hard to say who was more excited about it!
Now Graeme REALLY had his work cut out for him! It was already August - only four weeks to the start of the season! Four weeks to audition new singers for a choir he had never worked with before. Four weeks to choose repertoire. Four weeks to put together a season brochure describing a year’s worth of concerts! But miraculously - and thanks to Graeme's professionalism - rehearsals started promptly at the beginning of September with both singers and music ready to go! Of course it wouldn’t be Phoenix if we didn’t have a Meet and Greet BBQ to start the season off right!
It was a very excited bunch that showed up that first Tuesday night in September at Janet Kyle’s music room at Inman School. We could hardly wait to get started! The repertoire was exciting, challenging and beautiful.
One of the perks of having the head of the UBC Choral Department as our new conductor was getting to use the Recital Hall at UBC for our day-long retreat in September. This space holds a lot of memories for so many of us! We also were able to have photographer Vincent Chan (of Invisionation) spend the day with us, and the result was a collection of amazing photographs!
Our first concert of the season was held at Shaughnessy Heights United, complete with a reception so our audience, both old and new, could meet the singers and our new conductor. Everyone remarked on how happy we seemed and how much they enjoyed our first concert with Graeme. Celebratory toasts were given at a party at Chris Bates’ home afterwards!
Christmas was fast approaching. Some members of Phoenix went carolling at Carleton Gardens as part of our community outreach. For our traditional Christmas concert at Shaughnessy Heights United, Graeme chose some repertoire that featured accompaniment by oboist Geronimo Mendoza, harpist Heidi Krutzen, and our great friend Roy Campbell on organ. The concert was warmly received, as was our apple cider and goodies at the reception that followed!
In January we gathered at Graeme’s home for a day-long retreat, where we welcomed Ashley and Christa into the choir. In February the sopranos and altos had a further bonding evening over dinner and chocolate fondue (really, chocolate fondue!) at Barb’s. To quote Melissa…Best. Sectional. Ever.
On April 8th, Phoenix was thrilled to be included in Schmeckfest, a great gathering of all types of choirs from all over the lower mainland. We all met at St John’s Shaughnessy, and Dr. Larry Nickel, master of ceremonies, kept the event moving smoothly. It was so great to hear everyone and enjoy a fun, informal evening of choral sharing.
On April 14th, the Phoenix History Project was launched! The first installment of the season-by-season review of Phoenix history, starting with Season 1 way back in 1983-1984, was published on both our website and Facebook page, and it has been a regular feature on Sundays every single week since! Yes, thirty of them! (And, you're reading the last one RIGHT NOW! Want to start back at the beginning? Click Here...)
Our final concert, titled “Aspire” was held at Shaughnessy Heights on April 27th. As a group we felt very proud of this concert. Each concert felt stronger as we gelled with each other and became familiar with our new conductor. As we looked back on that crazy year of transition, we realized how far we had come!
On May 7th, we met for the last time at Janet’s school to work with our Young Composers. Four compositions were sung through and discussed. Suggestions were made and advice was given by both Dr. Langager and for a publishing perspective, Dr. Larry Nickel.
And, with that, all that was left for us was, in true Phoenix tradition, to have a party. Or two. A season wrap up party was held on May 24th, and then a summer pool party was held on July 6th.
What a season! And, definitely a year worth celebrating. After 30 seasons of beautiful music-making, friendships, and tons of fun, Phoenix was still going strong. And, we are so grateful for that. Thank you to all who have been a part of us, or supported us through our three decades. We couldn't have done it without you!
In 2012/2013, Phoenix was…
The Phoenix History Project has been brought to you by: Barb Paul - our 30-year keeper of Phoenix history, scanning queen, and blog-writer extraordinaire; and, by Leanne Dalton - crazy collage creator, Facebook/website master and general tech talent. It has been our honour and pleasure to document the history of this wonderful choir for all to enjoy. Phoenix has been such an important part of our lives, for so very long, it was the least we could do to show our gratitude!
If you've enjoyed the Phoenix History Project, please be sure to like our Facebook page, or leave us your email address, or leave a comment below, so we can keep in touch with you and help make you feel like part of our Phoenix family. Here's to the next thirty years together!