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VocalEssence champions choral music of all genres, celebrating the vocal experience through innovative concerts, commissions, and community engagement programs.


Founded in 1969, Minneapolis-based VocalEssence has decades of history as one of the world’s premier choral music organizations. But despite its global influence, VocalEssence has kept its focus local—consistently pioneering ways to strengthen Minnesota’s community through thrilling musical experiences.

What We Do
At VocalEssence, we engage people of all ages and cultures in our community through innovative, enticing choral music programming, such as:

Performing Ensembles—Called “one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time” by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, our two performing groups—the Ensemble Singers  (32 professionals) and the VocalEssence Chorus (100 volunteers)—are made up entirely of local residents.

School Curricula—Our pioneering music education curricula highlight the contributions of the diverse cultures in our community. Our flagship program, VocalEssence WITNESS, celebrates African American culture, while VocalEssence ¡Cantaré! brings the vibrancy of Mexican music to the classroom. More than 3,500 students participate in these programs each year.

Elder Learning InitiativesSince 2006, we’ve been helping older adults rekindle their passion for choral music. We offer Choral Pathways, which helps older adults get access to quality arts programming, and Vintage Voices, an exciting new program that fosters the creation of choirs in assisted living homes and senior centers.

Advocacy ProjectsFrom commissioning new choral music to standing up for music education in schools, we take on a wide variety of advocacy projects to help communities understand and enjoy the benefits of choral music.

Our Results

The results of our work speak for themselves. Here are just a few of our accomplishments:

  • Our ensembles perform for more than 10,000 people each year.
  • We’ve received the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for adventurous programming of contemporary music six times.
  • More than 130,000 students have participated in the VocalEssence WITNESS program since its inception.
  • We’ve been honored with more Chorus America awards than any other ensemble nationwide, including the once-in-an-organizational-lifetime Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence.
  • We’ve commissioned well over 240 new works and given more than 250 world premieres.
  • Our award-winning concert series is in its 49th consecutive year.

VocalEssence Featured on Twin Cities Public Television’s Minnesota Original

Published on Oct 26, 2012 – Artistic Director Philip Brunelle founded the internationally acclaimed choral music ensemble VocalEssence in 1969.

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VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers perform John Rutter’s What Sweeter Music

Uploaded on Dec 7, 2009
The VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers perform John Rutter’s beloved “What Sweeter Music” at the first of their sold out Welcome Christmas 2009 concerts. Recorded live on December 6, 2009 at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis.

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VocalEssence – Together We Sing

VocalEssence community and engagement programs provide opportunities for people of all ages and cultures in our community the opportunity to bond and build community through the act of singing and learning together.

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