After cutting her conducting teeth on secondary school and church choirs, Ramona Luengen was appointed Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Phoenix Chamber Choir in 1995, a position she held for 17 years. Under her direction, the ensemble became the most celebrated choir in the history of the CBC National Choral Competition. Known for its fearless and inspiring forays into contemporary music, its strong support of Canadian composers, and its ability to connect intimately with audiences, Phoenix Chamber Choir carved out an important niche in Canada’s rich and vibrant choral life. A respected composer herself, Luengen established the highly valued and comprehensively instructive Phoenix Young Choral Composers Development Programme.
Encouraging of colleagues and students, she also initiated many commissions and premières. Luengen has always believed that the appreciation of contemporary music is a matter of education and conducive presentation, and she continues to foster love and appreciation for the idiom in all aspects of her work. She believes that it is in the realm of the unfamiliar that we often encounter moments of great and disturbing beauty, startling transcendence, and a bracing, invigorating opening of our hearts and minds.
In 2004, Luengen became Director of the Shaughnessy Heights United Church Choir, a highly dedicated group of amateur singers which would grow to become a respected, excitingly accomplished ensemble. For Luengen, this choir embodied the truth that singing sacred music can be both a deep and significant expression of faith as well as an exploration of spirituality, unlimited by the boundaries of denomination. In her opinion, church choirs can provide for a truly beautiful and rewarding search for the ineffable and the numinous, that for which our hearts and souls so desperately yearn.
Luengen became the Artistic Director of Amabilis Singers in 2006, a community choir of hard-working, eager and joyful singers. The adage of being greater than the sum of its parts held true and fast for this group: with a shared vision and work ethic, an unshakeable desire to unearth the beauty and meaning of the written score coupled with endless gumption and trust, this group was rewarded with extraordinary music-making – a profound reminder of why it is we sing in choirs.
Currently, Luengen has stepped away from conducting in order to focus her creative energies on composing.