VocalEssence Announces 2023-2024 Season: "Together We Sing"

The new season will feature collaborations with the St. Olaf Choir, the Bach Society of Minnesota, and Northrop.

By: Jun. 06, 2023
VocalEssence Announces 2023-2024 Season:

VocalEssence Announces 2023-2024 Season:

Click Here, one of the world's premier choral music organizations, is gearing up for its "speed limit" season-55 years of making music and celebrating the joy of singing together. In honor of this auspicious occasion the new season will feature collaborations with the St. Olaf Choir, the Bach Society of Minnesota, and Northrop, as well as exciting commissions by vocal activist Melanie DeMore, Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, and Minnesotans Jocelyn Hagen and Kyle Pederson.


"'Together' is the operative word this season, as we celebrate and showcase some of our special long-term partnerships and relationships," says Philip Brunelle, VocalEssence artistic director and founder. "The St. Olaf Choir has a legendary choral program, so naturally they have been regular partners for decades. One of my personal favorite collaborators and performers, Melanie DeMore, will be back with the world premiere of a special commission. And I know our singers couldn't be more thrilled to team up for a second time with the Bach Society, for one of our two holiday offerings this year."

"Each season is a chance not only to entertain audiences, but to connect with people, hear new voices, heal communities and build strong, lasting relationships-this year is no different," says G. Phillip Shoultz, III, VocalEssence associate artistic director. "I'm especially excited for this year's WITNESS concert, where Melanie DeMore's new piece grew out of conversations with people in the community. It's a true collaborative work, with an inspiring message of love and attainable peace." Shoultz says there are plans in the works to go deeper with the WITNESS learning and engagement programs, and to have an even more enriching experience for student participants.

We'll be off to the races with a very special 55th Anniversary Community Sing to celebrate Philip Brunelle's 80th birthday at 4 p.m. on September 24, 2023, at the place where Philip first founded his choral group, Plymouth Music Series-Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis.

The VocalEssence 2023-2024 Season will include:   


VocalEssence and The St. Olaf Choir 

October 29, 2023, 4 PM 

VocalEssence joins forces with one of the most prestigious choirs in the country. VocalEssence singers will be joined by the St. Olaf Choir under the magnificent batons of Philip Brunelle, G. Phillip Shoultz, III, and Anton Armstrong. Music will include a performance of Requiem by José Maurícío Nuñes-García and the premiere of a new commission in memory of VocalEssence beloved former associate conductor Sigrid Johnson, composed by Minnesota composer and St. Olaf alumna Jocelyn Hagen.

Welcome Christmas

December 9, 2023, 4 PM

December 10, 2023, 4 PM 

Feliz Navidad, Happy Christmas, God Jul, and Veselykh Svya-this year's Welcome Christmas features music for all. All four VocalEssence ensembles join together on one stage, presenting new and familiar carols from around the world, including the world premiere of three Latvian carols by composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, who The Boston Globe says "is... perhaps the world's hottest young choral composer." Let the sounds of more than 200 voices, brass, and percussion inspire you along with Northrop's famous Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ, and a rousing sing-along to put you in the holiday spirit and leave you feeling festive!

Bach's Christmas Oratorio 

December 15, 2023, 7:30 PM  

December 16, 2023, 4 PM

Back by popular demand, the Bach Society of Minnesota and the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers renew their collaboration to tell one of the greatest musical Christmas stories of all time. Hear three cantatas from Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio as well as cantata 147, beloved for its setting of the tune "Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring." Join us on this vivid musical journey through the mystery of the nativity led by Philip Brunelle and Matthias Maute, conductor of the Bach Society of Minnesota.

Philip's Favorites 

February 4, 2024, 4 PM & 7 PM 

For 55 years, Philip Brunelle has been at the helm of VocalEssence, and now he is celebrating another milestone-his 80th Birthday-with no plans of slowing down! In honor of this monumental occasion, we will perform some of Philip's favorite works from the past 55 years. Join us as we go down memory lane, rediscovering music of beloved composers, including Dominick Argento, Stephen Paulus, John Rutter, Libby Larsen, Melanie DeMore, Eric Whitacre, and more, all in the beautiful and intimate setting of Larson Hall at the American Swedish Institute. 

WITNESS: Leading with Love 

March 17, 2024, 4 PM 

Beloved vocal activist, soulful singer, and composer Melanie DeMore returns to Minnesota using her music as what she calls "a weapon of mass connection." Featuring music by Damien Geter, Marques Garrett, Joel Thompson, and songs from the African diaspora, WITNESS: Leading with Love is the place to hear Melanie and VocalEssence share the world premiere performance of an extended work co-created through conversation and stick-pounding workshops with Twin Cities community members. This impassioned call for the revival of love, the rebirth of peace, and the emergence of a community where violence ceases will challenge us all to "put one foot in front of the other and lead with love." 

Hope Renewed 

May 3, 2024, 7:30 PM 

VocalEssence seeks to give fresh life to justice and hope and celebrate the wide circle of life that provides room for all to grow and thrive. Featuring commissions by Daniel Godfrey and Marcus Simmons, and the latest piece by ACDA Genesis prize winning composer Kyle Pederson that shares the message of building bridges and caring for all, this concert will renew your spirit as we step into summer. 

Additional events during the season include VocalEssence Vintage Voices concerts, the biennial VocalEssence Gala, May 11, 2024, and a VocalEssence Singers of This Age Concert in Spring 2024.

Season tickets will go on sale May 12, 2023. Single tickets go on sale August 1, 2023. For season tickets, details about the season, individual tickets and other information, please visitClick Here. VocalEssence will still offer access to digital content released throughout the season. All digital releases will be free and available to all on the VocalEssence website.

VocalEssence, the choral organization Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones says "sings magnificently," provides opportunities that draw upon the power of singing together to nurture community, inspire creativity, affirm the value of all persons, and expand the impact of choral music. VocalEssence was founded in 1969 and through its performance series has debuted more than 300 commissions and world premieres. VocalEssence Learning & Engagement programs help people of all ages bridge, create, and learn across cultures by connecting them with renowned choral experts to provide exceptional role models, grow community self-esteem, self-expression, and engagement. For more information, visit Click Here  

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