Phoenix Chamber Choir is a not-for-profit community choir based in the Vancouver area that is now entering its 40th Anniversary Season. Prior to the pandemic, Phoenix hosted an annual event – “Phoenix Choral Experience” – a weekend workshop for educators and high-school music students to share experiences through song.  We are thrilled to to bring the “Phoenix Choral Experience: Cultural Appreciation” for to new heights this season with experiences for educators, and youth & adult choral singers through workshops, special guests, cultural exchange, and newly commissioned choral work.

The Phoenix Choral Experience is a free educational outreach program for singers of all ages to work with and learn from Phoenix Chamber Choir, Artistic Director Dr. Nicholle Andrews, and other music educators and professionals. Our 2022-2023 expanded program includes discussions with teachers on cultural sensitivity and looks at ways to connect the broader community to choral music by giving voice to underrepresented composers and cultures. 

The Phoenix Choral Experience includes online workshops for educators from any region, an in-person choral workshop for singers of any age, as well as an in-person workshop on April 30, 2023 and a final performance at Phoenix Chamber Choir’s 40th Anniversary concert on May 7, 2023 for middle and junior high school students in Vancouver-area schools. Phoenix Chamber Choir is honoured to be one of the selected recipients for Chorus America‘s inaugural Music Education Partnership Grant, which makes this project possible and allows us to offer it to our participants at no cost.

The Phoenix Choral Experience is made possible with thanks to the Music Education Partnership Grants of Chorus America. Additional support provided by The Hamber Foundation.

Phoenix Choral Experience 2023-2024 Season

Are you an educator who is interested in participating in our 2023-2024 Season Phoenix Choral Experience? Please email to receive information.

Phoenix Choral Experience: Student Experience

The Phoenix Choral Experience: Student Experience brings a unique opportunity to for cultural appreciation and exploration in a choral setting to middle, junior and high-school students in the Greater Vancouver Area. This year’s guest clinicians are:

  • Melanie DeMore – Grammy-nominated composer and vocal activist,
  • Melodie Langevin – Director of Choirs at Seycove Secondary, and
  • Saunder Choi – Filipino-American composer who was commissioned to create a new choral work Saranggola for the occasion.

The Phoenix Choral Experience is completely FREE to participants and includes an in-person workshop on April 30, 2023 and a final performance at Phoenix Chamber Choir’s 40th Anniversary concert on May 7, 2023. We understand that schools and students will have scheduling conflicts, so we invite you to participate with as many or few students as are able.  Students of all ages are welcome to participate – from Kindergarten to grade 12.

In Class Preparation & Support

We understand that many choral programs are in a rebuilding phase, and have invited Melodie Langevin to our Phoenix Choral Experience team to support learning in the classroom.  Melodie will be able to visit your school during class-time at a date and time of your choosing to facilitate learning about the music and text pronunciation, particularly with Saunder’s piece in Tagalog.  There is no requirement to prepare any additional music.  However, we love sharing music and have set aside time during the multi-school workshop for a mini showcase for any choir that wishes to share 1-2 additional cultural pieces.


The Music

Phoenix is happy to provide you with a full choir set of all of the music for youth singers, even if all students cannot attend the workshop and premiere performance.  Each piece has also been chosen so that the music can be performed again by your students accompanied by piano or acapella.  We have three pieces of choral music to share with students as part of the experience.  

  • Saranggola – Saunder Choi’s newly commissioned work for youth and adult singers in Tagalog.  Saunder writes, “Saranggola is one of a series of choral settings of bugtong or Filipino riddles written by Joey Vargas.  The work likens fragile paper kites to our hopes and dreams, and in a sense, the youth.  They’re able to soar high and fly when raised with love, care, and the proper support system.” This piece requires some in-classroom preparation.  A pronunciation track and learning tracks will be provided.
  •  Lift Me Up – a new arrangement by Carolyn Shiau (Phoenix singer) of Rihanna’s Oscar-nominated song from the motion picture “Wakanda Forever”, sung in English and French.  This piece requires minimal preparation and is appropriate for all levels.
  • Lead With Love – Melanie DeMore’s call-and-response composition where Melanie will be singing the solo with us!  Melanie will also be helping audience members to sing this piece as well.  This piece requires minimal preparation and is appropriate for all levels.
  • A Laugh at the World – Cantonese folk song arranged by Ernest Hui. This piece will be directed by Melodie Langevin

In-Person Workshop – Sunday, April 30th – 2-6pm

Students from the Lower Mainland will come together with Saunder, Melanie, Phoenix Chamber Choir singers, and Artistic Director Dr. Nicholle Andrews. This day will include learning about cultural exchange through music and choral games, conducting technique for educators, and full-group rehearsal of the pieces above.  A mini showcase will conclude the workshop with schools and choirs having the option to share 1 or 2 pieces of their own.  Kosher snack boxes will be provided for all participants.  Parents volunteers that are helping with transport are welcome to stay on site. 

Location: Congregation Beth Israel, 989 W 28th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Z 0E8

Time: 2-6 PM


World-Premiere Concert – Sunday, May 7th – 1-5pm

Phoenix Chamber Choir’s 40th Anniversary Concert will feature the premieres of Saunder Choi’s Saranggola and the choral arrangement of Lift Me Up, as well as the audience participation piece, Lead With Love, led by vocal activist Melanie DeMore herself.

Location: Congregation Beth Israel, 989 W 28th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Z 0E8

Time: Call-time 1 PM, Concert 3-5 PM

Questions? Please contact

Online Workshops

Our Online Workshops have passed, but you may email for access to free recordings of the sessions.

How to Rehearse in a Culturally Sensitive Manner | Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan | November 2, 7-9 PM Pacific Time

Cultural Appropriation versus Appreciation | Dr. Floydd Ricketts | October 21, 2:15-3:15 PM Pacific Time


Questions? Please contact

Meet our 2022-2023 Clinicians

Saunder Choi is a Los Angeles-based Filipino composer and choral artist whose works have been performed internationally by various groups including the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Los Angeles Master Chorale, World Youth Choir, Brightwork New Music, People Inside Electronics, and many others. As an arranger and orchestrator, Saunder has written for Tony-Award winner Lea Salonga, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Filarmónica Portuguesa, Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, etc.

As a choral artist, he sings with Pacific Chorale, L.A. Choral Lab, HEX Vocal Ensemble, as well as in film scores such as the soundtrack of Disney’s The Lion King (2019), Mulan (2020), Turning Red (2022), Nope (2022), etc.

Saunder believes in music as advocacy, using the media as a platform for diversity, equity, inclusion, justice. His compositions are focused on narratives and conversations surrounding immigration, racial justice, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and representations of his identity as a Filipino-Chinese. He is currently Director of Music at Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica and a teaching artist with the Los Angeles Master Chorale Voices Within and Oratorio Project. His works are published and distributed by MusicSpoke, Earthsongs, MuzikSea and See-A-Dot Music Publishing.

Saunder has been commissioned by Phoenix Chamber Choir to create a new work specifically for the Phoenix Choral Experience based around Filipino folk songs and rhythm games. Saunder will work directly with students at the Phoenix Choral Experience workshop on April 30, 2023, and this piece, written for Youth Choir and Phoenix Chamber Choir, will be premiered to the world at Phoenix Chamber Choir’s 40th Anniversary Concert on May 7, 2023.

Melanie DeMore is Grammy nominated singer/composer, choral conductor, music director and vocal activist who believes in the power of voices raised together. In her presentations, DeMore beautifully brings her participants together through her music and commentary.  

DeMore facilitates vocal and stick pounding workshops for professional choirs, community groups as well as directing numerous choral organizations in the Bay Area. She is a featured presenter of SpeakOut!-The Institute for Social and Cultural Change and was a founding member of the Grammy nominated ensemble-Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir.  She became Music Director for Obeah Opera by Nicole Brooks as part of the Luminato Festival in 2019. She is a charter member of Kate Munger’s Threshold Choirs and conducts song circles with an emphasis on the voice as a vessel for healing. In her own words: “A song can hold you up when there seems to be no ground beneath you”.

Melanie will teach students her piece “Lead With Love” at the Phoenix Choral Experience Workshop on April 30, 2023, and will teach the piece to the audience at Phoenix Chamber Choir’s 40th Anniversary Concert on May 7, 2023. 

Dr. Floydd Ricketts (Director of Choirs at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs NY) is a Montreal-based conductor, award-winning musical director, educator, activist. Floydd completed his doctorate exploring the topics of African American Spiritual performance practice, and cultural appropriation; and will leading two workshops for singers of any age and educators.

Dr.  Rickett’s presented a workshop on Cultural Appropriation versus Appreciation at the BCMEA conference on October 21. Though this event has passed, you are welcome to view a recording of the workshop by registering through the online workshops registration form.

Dr.  Rickett’s also conducted a choral workshop with Phoenix Chamber Choir and Vancouver area singers on Singing Spirituals and Gospel Music. Though this event has passed, you are welcome to view a recording of the choral workshop by signing up here.

Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan (they/them) serves as Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music Learning & Teaching and Choral Conducting at Arizona State University where they oversee the graduate program in choral conducting, conduct the ASU Concert Choir, and teach courses in choral literature and pedagogy that weave decolonial and critical theories with communal vocal practice.

Jace led a workshop on November 2, 2022 on the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion and how to rehearse in a culturally sensitive manner. Though this even has passed, you are welcome to view a recording of the choral workshop by signing up here.