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VocalEssence Unveils Concerts For 2024-2025 Season 'Seasons Of Song'

Featuring works by Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Sir James MacMillan.

By: Jul. 01, 2024
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VocalEssence, one of the world's premier choral music organizations, announces the performances for its 56th concert season, "Seasons of Song." Across eight events, the "Seasons of Song" programming reveals the full breadth of choral music's power, from the storytelling in Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson's KRISTINA, to the call to unity in VocalEssence WITNESS: Eyes on the Prize, and the contemplation of the divine in the works of Sir James MacMillan. Our annual Welcome Christmas and Bach's Christmas Oratorio are holiday favorites.    

"We celebrate a season by committing ourselves fully to the present moment, even though we know there is a whole world outside that moment," says Philip Brunelle, VocalEssence artistic director and founder. "The miracle of choral expression is that it can reflect so many varied aspects of the human experience, so many seasons of life, and we've created a season that will dazzle audiences with everything choral music can capture. A moving immigration narrative from the songwriting geniuses of ABBA, KRISTINA is a wonderful and relatable work. Our 'MacMillan Fest' allows us to experience Sir James MacMillian's exploration of the spiritual and the honor of performing a new commission. And of course, we'll revisit the songs and songwriters that we return to time and time again-I snuck another Philip's Favorites program into 'Seasons of Song,' and after 56 years of listening to the voices of VocalEssence, I keep adding favorites to my list."      

"Communities go through seasons of challenge and change, seasons of reaffirmation and joyous harmony," says G. Phillip Shoultz, III, VocalEssence associate artistic director. "'Seasons of Song' gives us space to lean in and come together as a community across dimensions of difference as we share in the transformative properties of the choral experience. I'm especially excited to feature the tapestry of timbres and textures created when voices and percussion instruments join forces in Mending the Sky, which features the VocalEssence Chorus. And our annual VocalEssence WITNESS concert will tell the story of landmark events and figures from the civil rights movement. As choral artists committed to racial justice and community-building, we're welcoming artists from other disciplines-actors, dancers, storytellers, and musicians-to help us "keep our eyes on the prize" of a world where everyone can be seen, heard, and show up to live out their life's calling."

The VocalEssence 2024-2025 Season will include:   


Saturday, October 26, 2024, 4 PM

Join us for the musical journey of Kristina Nilsson and her family, brought to life by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the legendary songwriters of ABBA. Based on Vilhelm Moberg's The Emigrants, this concert version of the musical chronicles the Nilsson family and their courageous journey from the harsh realities of mid-19th century Sweden to the promise of a new life in America. The soaring ballads and beautiful melodies interspersed with Scandinavian folk influences and lush orchestral arrangements capture Kristina's experiences of love, loss, and hope that resonate as deeply today as they did over a century ago.

Welcome Christmas

December 7, 2024, 4 PM

December 8, 2024, 4 PM 

Forget the hustle and bustle-take time to experience the wonder and joy of the season as VocalEssence returns to the magnificent Northrop stage to welcome Christmas in song. Immerse yourself in new and familiar favorites featuring all four VocalEssence ensembles singing together. Mix in harp, brass, percussion, and Northrop's spectacular Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ, plus our special ingredient-your voice-with rousing sing-alongs, creating the perfect recipe that will leave you festive and full of holiday spirit.

Bach's Christmas Oratorio 

December 13, 2024, 7:30 PM  

December 14, 2024, 4 PM

"Shout for joy!" 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 40, originally written for the second day of Christmas. Nearly 300 years after their creation, Bach's narrative recitatives, beautiful arias, solemn chorales, and magnificent orchestration performed on period instruments are an experience to remember. 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.

WITNESS: Eyes Still on the Prize 

Sunday, February 23, 2025, 4 PM

Be part of the journey to "keep your eyes on the prize and hold on" as you sing and experience the weaving together of stories that connect our past struggles to our present pursuit of an equitable future for all. VocalEssence joins forces with a collective of Twin Cities-based artists-actors, dancers, storytellers, and musicians-presenting songs and stories centering on pivotal figures and landmark events of the civil rights movement. Lift your voice to commit and continue the legacy of those who fought for freedom as we keep marching toward racial justice.



Friday, April 4, 2025, 7:30 PM

Let the engaging sounds of music by Scottish composer and conductor Sir James MacMillan captivate you. MacMillan's music draws from his Scottish heritage, strong Catholic faith, and social conscience, and is influenced by Celtic folk music as well as Far Eastern, Scandinavian, and Eastern European music. Seven area church choirs join forces to perform MacMillan's anthems and then combine for a world premiere commission all performed in the majestic Cathedral of Saint Paul.


Sunday, April 6, 2025, 4 PM

Sir James MacMillan is a world-renowned Scottish composer and conductor whose belief in the spiritual power of music is evident in all his works. Guided by his strong faith, his music creatively uses melody and dissonance to tell the story of the beauty-and challenging complexity-of life on earth. Join VocalEssence, the U of M University Singers, orchestra, and special guest soprano Goitsemang Lehobye, in an all-MacMillan concert featuring his Seven Last Words from the Cross and The Sun Danced, based on the miraculous visions of Our Lady of Fatima to three Portuguese shepherd children in 1917. 

Philip's Favorites II

Saturday, May 3, 2025, 4 PM

Sunday, May 4, 2025, 4 PM

Back by popular demand! VocalEssence Founder and Artistic Director Philip Brunelle has more favorite pieces-along with the stories behind the music-from the past 56 years to share. Join the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers and special guest violinist, Michael Sutton, as we travel down memory lane. Rediscover music of beloved composers all in the beautiful and intimate setting of Larson Hall at the American Swedish Institute.

Mending the Sky

Saturday, May 17, 2025, 4 PM

Taking inspiration from a Chinese fable where a rip in the sky causes the earth to split open, this concert explores love and loss, life and death, and ultimately invites us to work toward transformation and reconciliation. Through the powerful combination of voice and percussion, the VocalEssence Chorus will perform movements from Orff's Carmina Burana, and Brahms's Requiem, alongside contemporary works by Jocelyn Hagen, Jake Runestad, Reena Esmail, Stephen Paulus, Ayanna Woods, and more. Join us for an afternoon where voices soar and hearts are transformed.

Additional events during the season include VocalEssence Vintage Voices concerts in partnership with assisted living communities and senior centers and a solo concert by the VocalEssence Singers Of This Age (VESOTA), our teenage singers from around the Twin Cities. VESOTA's offerings will include a collaboration with OneVoice Mixed Chorus and choirs from across the country in May 2025.

Tickets go on sale June 24, 2024. For tickets, details about the season, and other information, please visit 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  


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