PHOENIX CHORAL EXPERIENCE

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 Grantsof Chorus America.

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.

The experience includes in-class learning, an in-person workshop on April 30, 2023 and a final performance at Phoenix Chamber Choir’s 40th Anniversary concert on May 7, 2023. 

In-Class Participation

Participating schools will be asked to prepare one or two pieces of choral music of their choice that reflect the culture or heritage of someone in their classroom as well as a commissioned piece of music for Youth Choir and Phoenix by Filipino composer Saunder Choi, based around Filipino folk songs and rhythm games.

Volunteer singers from Phoenix Chamber Choir will visit with the schools during class time to facilitate in-person activities and connect with Saunder Choi through video conference to talk about pronunciation of Tagalog text and the origin and inspiration for the new pieces of music.  

In-Person Workshop – Sunday, April 30, 2023

Up to 200 students will come together with Phoenix Chamber Choir singers, Artistic Director Dr. Nicholle Andrews, Assistant Conductor Dave Rosborough, and composers Saunder Choi and Melanie DeMore. This day will include full-group rehearsal of the commissioned piece by Saunder Choi, a piece by Melanie DeMore (“Lead with Love”), as well as choral games and conducting technique for students and educators. Students will have an opportunity to share their school’s selected piece(s) for the other students, including sharing what they have learned about the culture represented. 

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

Time: 2-6 PM

World-Premiere Concert – Sunday, May 7, 2023

Phoenix Chamber Choir’s 40th Anniversary Concert will include the students from participating schools. This concert will feature the premiere of Saunder Choi’s commissioned piece as well as an audience participation piece, “Lead With Love,” led by vocal activist Melanie DeMore. 

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

Time: Concert 3-5 PM

Questions? Please contact admin@phoenixchoir.com

Online Workshops

Our Online Workshops have passed, but you may register below 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 admin@phoenixchoir.com

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.