The Firebird Symphony and Chorus Genesis and History
The idea of The Firebird Symphony and Chorus began with my musings of creating a fully professional orchestra and chorus based in Calgary back in 2005. This idea, including the title "Firebird" stayed with me for many years. For over twenty years as music director of Bow Valley Chorus, I developed relationships with many singers and instrumentalists from Calgary and believed very strongly that this idea could become a reality.
Since that time, my wife and musical partner Karen Minish and I continued to produce many concerts, and other musical events, and life was good. Bow Valley Chorus enriched our lives and we flourished in Banff. We had the support of the community and Bow Valley Chorus in turn became a vital and integral part of the musical community.
Then, that fateful day, December 24th 2018. Our lives changed. Karen was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of ovarian cancer. The doctors told us it was terminal, but they believed they could help us. She began chemotherapy in early January. Within a very short time a Go Fund Me webpage was started by our friend Kathy Arney. The response was incredible and fueled her desire to recover. Members of the community stepped up and supported us in every possible way. Karen also responded incredibly well to the treatment and within eight months of the diagnosis, she was essentially cancer free. This was an incredble gift and we were extremely thankful. She called it her “dance” with cancer. Later that year, Karen was able to return and perform a beautiful Christmas concert with Bow Valley Chorus and we cherished every single day together.
Karen’s sister Diane gave her a present on her birthday that year. It was a pendant and she called it “The Phoenix.” It was clear to us that Karen had risen from her own ashes. It was truly a poetic and meaningful gift and she wore it with pride every day.
Sadly, Karen was re-diagnosed with cancer in February of 2020. She took the news with grace and courage. In that last year of her life, she dedicated herself to painting every day. It was incredibly inspiring for me to witness this beautiful person continue to create beauty from her own imagination. Karen passed away on December 19th, 2020, with myself and her sisters beside her. Karen, you are The Firebird. You will soar. It is with the funds from your estate and the Go Fund Me page that we begin The Firebird Symphony and Chorus. Thank you.
John Goulart, President of The Firebird Music Foundation