VocalEssence champions choral music of all genres through innovative concerts, commissions and community engagement programs.
These are all words used to describe the Minnesota treasure that is VocalEssence. But here are some that you might not have heard:
During these tough economic times, the work of VocalEssence is more important than ever. With music comes hope and respite, while recognizing the pain and sorrow we all feel at times. VocalEssence creates the human connection between conductor, performer, and audience, in ways that few other organizations can.
Founded in 1969 by Philip Brunelle, one of America’s most recognized musical entrepreneurs, VocalEssence is internationally known for innovative exploration of music for voices and instruments. Each year the organization presents an engaging collection of 6-8 subscription concerts featuring the 130-voice VocalEssence Chorus, the professional 32-voice Ensemble Singers, guest soloists and instrumentalists.
Amy Johnson, performer, says of her experience:
“Music tells me it’s ok to feel all of the emotions…[Even] composers can find the perfect way to express frustration, to express pain, agony and at the same time joy and fulfillment and utter happiness.”
The power of music innovation transcends from performers to the VocalEssence educational programs. Community education programs, such as the award-winning VocalEssence WITNESS program, serve over 8,000 students each year in 50 area schools. WITNESS includes an annual subscription concert with music by African American composers, as well as African American Teaching Artists who conduct workshops and residencies in 40 schools throughout the region.
Pam Hoff, a teacher at Boys Totem Town, a correctional facility, describes the impact of this program: “Hannibal Lokumbe [guest artist] rocked the students to the core...” WITNESS awakens and connects students – history becomes alive as African American spirituals are sung by nationally-recognized artists.
The innovation of VocalEssence doesn’t stop there. It continues by building cross cultural exchanges across borders through its ¡Cantaré! program, which engages our community in the discovery, celebration, and creation of music from Mexican traditions. During the 2009-2010 school-year, Mexican composers Diana Syrse, Jesús López and Jorge Córdoba will work in residence with elementary schools, high schools, and community organizations. Each composer visits Minnesota and writes new music specifically for their choral groups. Programs such as ¡Cantaré! are “…one of the most powerful unifying forces between nations. Differences in culture, political ideology, race and language disappear when people sing together.*”
VocalEssence is truly a treasure of Minnesota - a treasure that needs your support to ensure its growth and vitality. Anne-Marie Black, a performer of VocalEssence sums it up best:
“It is not only what happens as a chorus member, but it’s what we can give back to the community and to others that come to hear our music. It’s a very giving experience.”
Help Anne-Marie, and the other performers of VocalEssence continue to create the music that serves the soul. Our children and our community will all be the better for it.
*From International Federation of Choral Music, www.ifcm.net