Phoenix Chamber Choir
Phoenix Chamber Choir. Vancouver-based amateur choir of 20-25 singers founded in 1983 and conducted by Cortland Hultberg until 1995. Hultberg was succeeded in 1995 by Ramona Luengen (b Vancouver 1960; B MUS, M MUS [British Columbia], D MUS [Toronto] 1996). With a reputation for stylistic flexibility and sensitivity, the Phoenix Chamber Choir's repertoire has ranged from the Baroque to the contemporary, and has included commissioned Canadian works, and works in popular and jazz idioms. Its concerts, three annually, have been held at Vancouver's Shaughnessy Heights United Church and at Queen's Avenue United Church beginning in 2003. In 2005, the Phoenix Chamber Choir founded the biennial Young Choral Composers Development Program for high school and university students.
Since its inception, the choir has premiered a number of new choral works including John Burge's Sunblue (1988), John Oliver's Creations (1989), Stephen Chatman's Elizabethan Summer (1990), Richard Payne's Sun (1990), and Brian Gibson's Romero (1991). Phoenix commissioned and premiered Peter Berring's Return to Xanadu in 1995 and in 2000 gave the Canadian premiere of Penderecki's Credo in a performance conducted by the composer. Other world premieres have included Greg Newsome's Lux Aeterna in 2000, Down by the Riverside arranged by Jonathon Rathbone in 2001, and Leslie Uyeda's Re-member Us in 2003.
The choir has appeared at several national and international festivals including the 1990 National Conductors' Symposium, the 1993 World Symposium on Choral Music in Vancouver, and the Millennial Choral Festival at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2000. In 1996 Phoenix was choir-in-residence of the Copenhagen Choral Festival, and sang in the Danish National Radio Hall and at Copenhagen's royal chapel. Portions of the choir's performances in that festival have been broadcast in Denmark, Norway, the UK, and eastern Europe. Phoenix is often heard on CBC radio, appearing in 1987 with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra in the Canadian Music Centre's 10th anniversary gala concert, and in Miles Ramsay's arrangement of Lost in the Stars, premiered by the choir in 2004 alongside the photography of astronaut Roberta Bondar.
Awards and Recordings
The Phoenix Chamber Choir has received numerous major awards, particularly in the CBC Radio National Competition for Amateur Choirs. It won first place in the chamber choir category in 1986, 1988, 1998, 2002, and 2006, and first place in the contemporary music class in 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2006. In 1998 and 2006 Phoenix was awarded the Canada CouncilHealey Willan Grand Prize for best overall choir. In the European Broadcasting Union's 1989 "Let the Peoples Sing" competition, the choir was awarded the BBC Silver Rose Bowl as overall winner and the Hungarian Radio Trophy for first place in the contemporary music category.
The Phoenix Chamber Choir can be heard on several recordings, including Phoenix: Live from Europe, which features excerpts from the choir's 2002 concert tour of Germany and Luxembourg.