Fly Away Phoenix, Into the Sky

by Rita Ueda

About the Music


Janna Sailor, conductor

Geling Jiang, sanxian

Kamanches: Marjan Alekhamis, Mohammad Amini
Erhus: Jun Rong, Yun Song, Lan Tung
Violins: Mark Ferris, Elyse Jacobson, Yuel Yawney
Violas: Sarah Kwok, Tawnya Popoff, Isabelle Roland
Celli: Sungyong Lim, Finn Manniche
Contrabass: Mark Haney
Percussion: Jonathan Bernard

Fly Away Phoenix, Into the Sky for sanxian and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra was composed in cooperation with Ensemble Bios of Florence, Italy to celebrate the 700-year anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death. Considered one of the most important literary works of the Middle Ages, Dante’s Divine Comedy helped to standardize the modern-day Italian language. Today, Dante’s home town of Florence is home to one of the biggest Chinese immigrant community in Italy. Ensemble Bios (Andrea Vitello, conductor) premiered and recorded Il Viaggio di Dante for guzheng and Western chamber orchestra at Teatro Niccolini in Florence on September 28, 2021. Fly Away Phoenix was recorded in Vancouver two weeks later. Special thanks to Geling Jiang (soloist) and the Canada Council for the Arts for their support and belief in this project. ~ Rita Ueda

About the Artists

Rita Ueda (composer) is a Canadian composer of orchestral, operatic, and choral works that reflect today’s ever-shifting interactions between cultures in flux. Her recent premieres include collaborations with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Budapest MAV Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Prague Modern, Turning Point Ensemble (Vancouver), Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra (Taipei), and the SYC Ensemble Singers (Singapore). Her works have been presented at the Amsterdam Uitmarkt Festival, West Coast New Music Festival (Fukuoka), Prague Conempuls Festival, and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra Global Soundscapes Festival.

Applauded as a composer whose ‘poetic is often very delicate and introspective…’ (Guido Barbieri, Warner Classics), Ms. Ueda is the current laureate of the Azrieli Prize for Canadian Music as well as the winner of international prizes including the 2014 Krzysztof Penderecki International ‘Arboretum’ Composers’ Competition, 2011 Estoterics ‘Polyphonos’ Choral Composition Competition, and the 2013 Boston Choral Ensemble Competition. She is also the recipient of numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council, and the SOCAN Foundation.

Her latest recordings are I Solisti Della Scalla – Octets (Warner Classics) and Il Viaggio di Dante (Stingray Classica).


Geling Jiang (sanxian) is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, who started her professional training at age of 10. After graduated from Wu Han musical Conservatory, she became a member of the Chime Bell Ensemble of Hubei province for 20 years, with which she recorded numerous radio broadcasts, TV programs, and films; and toured to the United States, Japan and Singapore. Trained initially as a sanxian (three-string fretless lute) player, she also regularly plays the zheng, pipa and ruan.


Janna Sailor (conductor) is a conductor, violinist, and musical innovator of extraordinary scope and versatility.  Originally from rural Saskatchewan, she began her musical studies at the age of three and began performing with professional orchestras at the age of thirteen. In June 2016, Janna founded the Vancouver-based Allegra Chamber Orchestra, one of the only all-female classical orchestras in the world; an ensemble dedicated to creating opportunities for women and minorities in the music industry, with a mandate of social action through music. The orchestra has been featured on CBC Radio, German Public Radio, Radio ICI, the Strad magazine, The Violin Channel, The Walrus, The Hub magazine, as well as other publications and media outlets across North America and Europe. Janna has conducted major orchestras and ensembles including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Vancouver Bach Choir, and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, among others. Janna has held conducting positions with the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, and the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra. In addition to conducting, Janna enjoys a diverse career as violinist, delving into contemporary, world and early music, jazz, and classical crossover, in addition to chamber and solo engagements. Ensembles she has performed with include the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Tafelmusik.  Janna has served as concertmaster with both the Montreal based l’Orchestre de la Francophonie (2011) and the National Academy Orchestra of Canada (2014).

The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, founded in 2001, was one of the first professional concert orchestras devoted specifically to performing new intercultural music on a grand scale. It is currently the only ensemble of its kind in Canada, and one of a only a handful that exist in the world. The VICO brings together musicians and composers from many cultural and artistic communities in the Greater Vancouver area, including Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Indian, Persian (Iranian), Latin and South American, Vietnamese, African, North American and European. The ensemble includes Western strings and winds (violin, viola, cello, contrabass, oboe, flute, clarinet) alongside Chinese erhu, sanxian, zheng, and sheng/suona; Persian kamanche, tar/setar, and tombak; Vietnamese dan bau; percussion from many world music traditions; and a variety of other instruments as required.

Since repertoire for the VICO’s unusual and diverse instrumentation does not already exist, creating new work is an integral component of all our programming. Developing new commissions (over 50 new Canadian works since 2001, and counting!) provides a necessary framework for bringing musicians and composers together to learn from each other, in a uniquely collaborative process. We create and perform music that transcends borders and breaks down barriers, modeling a pathway for integrating non-Western traditional instruments, sounds and techniques into contemporary Canadian classical music.

Video Production Credits

Videography – Alistair Eagle

Audio Engineer & Mix – Sheldon Zaharko

Filmed and recorded on November 2, 2021 at the Orpheum Annex in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

For the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra:

Artistic Director & Producer – Mark Armanini

Composer-in-Residence & Senior Project Manager – Farshid Samandari

Production Manager & Communications – Melanie Thompson

Marketing & Production Assistant – Gina Hernandez Sanchez

Operations Manager – Devni De Silva


View the whole programme for The Longest Night: Music for Solstice (Solace) 2021.

A Note to Our Viewers/Listeners: You Can Help Make the Music Happen!

If you enjoyed this video, we would be so grateful if you would consider supporting the project (and others to come in our 20th anniversary season) by making a donation to the VICO. We are a registered charity, and if you donate online via CanadaHelps (click here), a tax receipt will be automatically issued and e-mailed to you right away.

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More Videos

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Overview of The Longest Night 2021 series