In Season 32, Phoenix went from big to bigger…and not just the venues!
The 2014-2015 season found the choir singing in the Holy Rosary Cathedral, The Orpheum, and even Rogers Arena. And it was topped off with a CD release and a competition sweep. What a year!
Phoenix had its joyful reunion after the summer break on September 9th at our rehearsal space in Holy Trinity Anglican Church. It was wonderful to see everyone again as well as to meet our new members. We were able to blend and bond, and the following weekend we had a blast at our annual retreat in Squamish, where we got a great start on the season’s repertoire.
The fall concert, titled “Lift” was held in the glorious acoustics of the Holy Rosary Cathedral. We were thrilled to be accompanied by the superb Vancouver organist Michael Murray (who is, himself, Phoenix alumni). And, we were grateful to have a second opportunity to perform the beautiful repertoire the next day at West Vancouver United.
On November 15, we held our second annual Donors and Volunteers Wine and Cheese event at Barb Paul’s home. It gave the choir members a chance to meet our supporters and to thank them in person. We performed some songs for them and they were able to experience what it feels like to be in the middle of this glorious sound! Perry Dickison, both a Phoenix tenor and talented pianist, led everyone in a great sing-a-long around the piano to finish up the event. Such fun!
Phoenix returned to its roots for Christmas, performing the concert titled “Shine” back at Shaughnessy Heights United Church. Gifted cellist, Eric Wilson, accompanied the choir for Ola Gjeilo's “Serenity”, a very moving and beautiful composition. The reception was cheek to jowl in the adjoining hall afterwards, with cider and goodies and Christmas cheer everywhere! The most exciting news at that concert was the launch of our brand new CD titled, “mid-winter songs/un soir de neige”. The CD has the most wonderful repertoire on it, and the choir has never sounded better. And, another big change was announced at that concert - we unveiled our new logo! After more than thirty seasons, we felt it was time for a refreshed image - we love it!
The New Year ushered in two totally brand new experiences for Phoenix. The first was the opportunity to perform with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in the Orpheum Theatre on January 16th as part of the VSO New Music Festival. Phoenix performed a capella for the first half, (with Eric Wilson again joining us on cello, and Christie Reside providing a flute obbligato), and joined with the VSO to perform the Arvo Pärt Berliner Messe for the second half. It was such a wonderful experience to be accompanied so sensitively by the orchestra, under the baton of Maestro Bramwell Tovey.
Later in January we hosted a new event called “The Phoenix Choral Experience” where high school students and their conductors spent the day workshopping their own repertoire together with the Phoenix choir, under the guidance of Dr. Langager. The day was such a success for everyone involved that we will make it an annual event!
In March we took part in the Seycove Concert Series, hosted by former Phoenician Frank Lee and his high school choirs. It was so fun to share the stage with these talented young singers.
On April 17th, we performed our Spring concert “Glow” back in our home base of Holy Trinity to a warm and enthusiastic crowd. We took the concert out to New Westminster the next night and sang as part of the Music @ Queens series at Queens Avenue United. The audience really appreciated having us in their neighbourhood and were very moved by what they heard.
The following week Phoenix held the Young Canadian Choral Composers Reading Session where shortlisted composers came to work on their scores with the choir and Dr. Langager. Graeme and the choir were able to give suggestions, guidance and accolades to the young artists!
On April 28, Phoenix headed to the Chan Centre to record some of this season’s fantastic repertoire for a future CD. Stay tuned for our second release with Dr. Langager in the future!
And, once again, we found ourselves nearing the end of a successful and exciting season. Yet – there was still more! In May we had a party to celebrate a wonderful year and to say goodbye to one of our tenors, Erik Peregrine, who was returning to the USA for marriage and future studies.
In June, we had the most fun ever accompanying Andrea Bocelli, along with the Vancouver Symphony, in the sold out Rogers Arena. What a blast that was! To ensure our sound could fill a stadium, our ranks were increased by alumni and friends from The University Singers, Cantata Singers, and Chor Leoni. Such fun!
But here was the icing on the cake. On June 28th, the winners of the National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs were announced on CBC Radio. We swept every category we entered! First place in the Adult Mixed Chamber Choir category, first place in the Contemporary Category, and first prize for the Best Performance of a Canadian Work, for “Gaudium Vestrum sit Plenum”, composed by our very own Dr. Graeme Langager. What an incredible finish to an incredible year! We are reaching new artistic heights and, as is tradition, having even more fun than ever. What could possibly be in store for us next season?
In 2014/2015, Phoenix was…