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Members of the VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers in Concert.

VocalEssence is a non-profit choral music organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Each year the organization presents a series of concerts featuring the 130-voice VocalEssence Chorus and its core group, a 32-voice professional mixed chorus called the Ensemble Singers, along with guest soloists and instrumentalists.

VocalEssence was founded in 1969[1] under the name Plymouth Music Series as a community music program of Plymouth Congregational Church and incorporated as a separate 501(c)(3) organization with its own board of directors in 1979. The organization changed its name to VocalEssence in 2002. It has 10 full- and part-time staff members including artistic director Philip Brunelle and Managing Director Mary Ann Aufderheide.

VocalEssence has commissioned over 130 new works ranging from brief a cappella pieces to full scale choral and symphonic works. VocalEssence has co-commissioned operas with Opera Theatre of St. Louis (Loss of Eden by Cary John Franklin) and the Library of Congress (Barnum’s Bird by Libby Larsen).[2]

The organization has released nine recordings, including four compact discs of classical music by African American composers (The WITNESS Collection), two discs featuring guest artist Garrison Keillor, a recording of American folksongs and the world premiere recording of The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass by Carol Barnett, featuring the bluegrass ensemble Monroe Crossing. VocalEssence also re-released its world premiere recording of Conrad Susa's Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest.

VocalEssence has received the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music five times and it was awarded the once-in-an-organizational lifetime Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence in 1996.[2][3]


  1. ^ Beard, William Randall (September 16, 2008). "You only turn 40 once". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved October 26, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Philip Brunelle is new music champion". September 25, 2007. Retrieved October 26, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Chorus America, Awards". Retrieved October 26, 2010. 

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