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Tales from the Deep, Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and Gardens are Prolific

Local compositions to and for local communities.

The Latest Update

New Recording!

Posted on December 27, 2018 by MPLS (imPulse)

MPLS (imPulse) recently programmed Scott Senko’s Un Mundo Bello (Beautiful World) for a performance in November 2018. We are thrilled to provide a professionally-engineered recording of Scott’s incredible choral work.

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Live Recordings of Supported Works

Posted on August 22, 2018 by MPLS (imPulse)

MPLS (imPulse) is pleased to provide live recordings of the winning compositions associated with this project. We are also thrilled to announce that each of these pieces will receive a second performance during our 2018-19 season and will receive additional four-channel professionally recorded live performances to make up for the quality of some of these recordings. We will post these updated recordings as they come available. We are grateful to New Music USA and to our composers for new music!

Final Report

Posted on November 10, 2017 by MPLS (imPulse)

With generous support from New Music USA for our 2016-2017 season, MPLS (imPulse) commissioned three new choral works for premieres in diverse and non-traditional Twin Cities venues. We received an overwhelming response from local, Minnesota-based composers with creative submissions.

Our Tales From the Deep commission was a work titled Out of the River of Tuoni by Ian A. Cook (Red Pine Music Press). Drawing from the performance venue, Lake Monster Brewing Company, Ian’s submission is centered around legends and folk tales from the deep. Ian took inspiration from the Finnish story of Kalevala for his winning, and truly stunning work. Premiere: February 3 & 4, 2017

In July, MPLS (imPulse) held a joint performance with In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre for a performance title changed to Won’t You Be  My Neighbor, a performance in celebration of Minneapolis’ Phillips Neighborhood. The performance featured a long list of community arts organizations and a police-guided parade to a nearby park where we led a community sing. Our commissioned piece for this performance was Un Mundo Bello (Beautiful World), written by Scott Senko. Scott utilized texts drawn from interviews with community leaders in Phillips to put together his winning submission. We were thrilled with the results! Premiere Date: July 28, 2017<a href=https://i.imgur.com/KvS0k0n.jpg" width="696" height="464" />

Our final project, Gardens Are Prolific, had to move performance dates due to a scheduling conflict with our CSA partner. This did not have an impact on the submission and selection for our composition winner, Michael Atwood, with his winning score The Gardener, drawn from a text by Rabindranath Tagore. The premiere for this work will take place on May 11 & 12, 2018. A live recording will be submitted to this page following that date.

MPLS (imPulse) received overwhelming interest in this project, with 8-12 submissions for each project, which we felt was a lot considering the narrow material we were looking for within the state of Minnesota alone. We ran into trouble with documenting the pieces. Our venues in February and July (especially February) were not suitable for a live recording. Ian Cook’s website features a rehearsal recording of his work, but it too, is not an ideal space for a recording. Our partners for July do have a video, which they are currently editing for our use. We will provide a link to Scott’s premiere when it is available. Finally, our venue in May 2018 is an ideal candidate for a live recording, which we will provide following that performance.

MPLS (imPulse) wants to personally thank our followers, fans, and most importantly, New Music USA, for supporting our project to commission local, living music. Thank you!

Announcing Our 3rd and Final Winner!

Posted on November 10, 2017 by MPLS (imPulse)
MPLS (imPulse) is pleased to announce the winner of the final round of our Compose Yourself! competition sponsored by New Music USA. Michael’s winning composition, The Gardener, was selected in a blind judging process. The premiere of Michael’s work will be featured in our Gardens Are Prolific performance in May 2018.

As a graduate of the music department at Minnesota State University – Mankato, Michael D. Atwood (b. 1990) has taken advantage of numerous semesters studying private composition with Dr. David Dickau. His works have received honors as winner of multiple young composers’ competitions and professional calls for scores, and can be found in print by Colla Voce and Pavane Publishing. While native to Minnesota, his music has been performed throughout the country, most recently featured with a west coast premiere in the San Francisco Bay. Now holding a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance as well as a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting, Michael currently teaches voice out of his private studio near Minneapolis while serving as music director for local churches and theatre companies.

We asked Michael to share a bit more about The Gardner with us. Here is what he had to say:
The key to a successful composition always, in my opinion, lies first with the text. It is what gives meaning to the setting, gives purpose to the performance, and ultimately provides guidance through storytelling to life’s many journeys. The setting for “The Gardener,” utilizing an excerpt of Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry of the same title, touches on the joys of gardening, while focusing more directly on the impact this task has upon our planet, and upon one another. Not having a particularly green thumb myself, I immediately appreciated this all-encompassing take on what is so often an individualized hobby. Rather than simply reading of great things, this text implores the reader to “open your doors and look abroad” and experience the communities that have been built for us. Nearly everything we interact with is the product of another’s efforts. Though the gardener cannot “send a single flower” from his current blossom to the reader some hundred years later, his work gives abundantly by living on in “fragrant memories” for all to appreciate. As with any good poetry, there are many messages to be taken from Tagore’s, “The Gardener.” Most evident, though, is his request for all to relish in life’s experiences made possible by the physical, environmental, structural, communal, political, and foundational labors of those who came before. From that, we can ask ourselves how to return the favor.


Posted on June 18, 2017 by MPLS (imPulse)

The second round of MPLS (imPulse)’s Compose Yourself! Contest is over, and Scott Senko is the winner! A veteran of four previous MPLS projects, Scott submitted Un Mundo Bello for MPLS (imPulse)’s Won’t you be my neighbor? project. As in the first round, submissions were judged blind. After notifying him of his win, we asked Scott to share how his submission came together:

“When I first listened to the excerpts from Bart Buch’s interviews with the community members of the Phillips Neighborhood, I noticed a recurring theme. Several of the interviewees described, in their own words, the idea that art, community, and kindness spread and reproduce themselves through the actions of individuals. That good works in the community ripple outward and inspire good works in others.

I thought the theme of “rippling outward” would be a good basis for a piece of music. A voice (or section) would introduce a small musical idea that would be continuously mimicked by other sections, blooming into a larger texture.  I decided that a short simple text would lend itself well to the musical idea I was working toward so I began to search for proverbs about community. I settled on “It takes all kinds to make a world” which I adapted to “It takes every kind of person to build a beautiful world.” The phrase “beautiful world” (“mundo bello”) is pulled directly from one of Buch’s interviews. 

Curious about how the phrase would read/sound in a language other than English, I asked a friend to translate it into Spanish (Ed. Note: the friend was Minneapolis musician and fellow MPLS veteran Natalia Romero). This is the text I ultimately set for the piece. “Para crear un mundo bello, necesitamos todo tipo de personas.”

Come hear the second fruit of our New Music USA project grant on July 28, 2017! Time, location and ticket information here.

Recording new works in the studio with Zack Pentecost

Posted on June 3, 2017 by MPLS (imPulse)

In April, MPLS (imPulse) was invited to record the studio versions of three new pieces by local composer Zack Pentecost. It was a novel opportunity for both parties: Zack took the chance to blend his skills in home-made electronica music and sampling with the many colors of the human voice, and MPLS (imPulse) was able to try its hand in a professional studio environment.

The project was a great success on many levels. Zack and his engineering team were a joy to work with; our Artistic Director and singers proved adept studio musicians; we got to perform while wearing loafers and sweatpants; some of our biggest donors got a sneak peek into our rehearsal process; and of course, the results sounded new and beautiful. Check out some of the results for yourself.

Zack has already parlayed these recordings into further professional success. Just last month, Zack was selected on the merits of “Clear Midnight” (the recording linked above) as one of four winners in the VocalEssence ReMix competition, where break-out musical artists are encouraged to write for voice. This gives Zack the opportunity to write two new pieces – one for high schoolers and a “more adventurous” one to be premiered at the Minnesota American Choral Directors Association Conference in November 2017.

We loved having the opportunity to further our mission of supporting living composers and new music. Thank you Zack!


Compose Yourself! Contest – Round 1 Winner: Ian Cook

Posted on January 5, 2017 by MPLS (imPulse)

We are thrilled to announce that our very own Ian Cook has won MPLS (imPulse)’s first Compose Yourself! Contest. This was our first round in a completely blind submission process.

Ian’s piece was written for imPulse Happy Hour: Tales from the Deep taking place at Lake Monster Brewing. Drawing on the theme of the brewery, the concert is centered around legends and folk tales from the deep. Ian took inspiration from the Finnish story of Kalevala for his piece, Out of the River of Tuoni.

Here’s what Ian had to say when asked about his inspiration for his piece:

“Ever since I first started learning about Finnish culture, I have been fascinated by its language and mythologies. This includes the Kalevala, which is widely considered to be the national epic of Finland, containing many of Finland’s most important folktales and mythology. The text used in Out of the River of Tuoni is excerpted from a story arc that is referenced in several other works of art and music, including Jean Sibelius’ Lemminkäinen Suite, most famously the second movement “The Swan of Tuonela” (Tuonela is an alternate form of the word Tuoni).

In Runo XIV of the Kalevala, Lemminkäinen hunts the black swan that lives on the river of Tuoni in the underworld in order to win a daughter of Louhi as his wife. While searching for the swan, he is killed and his body is dumped into the river. In Runo XV, Lemminkäinen’s mother searches all over the world for him before discovering his fate. She fashions a rake and uses it to recover her son’s body from the bottom of the river, then sews his body back together and uses a drop of honey from the god Ukko as an ointment. She uses her magic to restore her son to life.

Out of the River of Tuoni illustrates the story of Lemminkäinen’s mother, from the moment she begins her search until the moment her son has returned to life. The music expresses the transformation she goes through during this process, while also capturing the mysteriousness and the magic of the story.”

Video Narrative, Call for scores, Mexican music, & Snazzy clothes

Posted on October 18, 2016 by MPLS (imPulse)
Hello, NMUSA followers! With the leaves all but turned and the Twin Cities choral engine in full gear, we have emerged from our summer planning sessions with four exciting bits of news to share with you:
First, we recently produced the above video narrative of our core mission with the aid of local production house QuarterTon. If anyone asks you (or you’re asking yourself) what MPLS (imPulse) is about, this video gives the answer.
Second, we have posted a Call for Scores for each of the projects backed our NMUSA grant! Do you qualify? If you do, please consider submitting.
Third, MPLS (imPulse) is eagerly gearing up for its first concert of the 2016-17 season – Cuéntame un cuento – a pairing with ComMUSICation where we’ll perform music by Mexican-American composers, interspersed with a dramatic reading of the folktale”The Lizard and the Sun.” November 18, 7:30pm @ The Wellstone Center. Tickets on sale now!
Fourth, we believe that reimagining the choral experience includes reimagining traditional choral dress. Chorus America agrees, and they recently highlighted our attire! Click this link to read the entire article on choral fashion.
That’s all we have to share for now. Have you anything you want to share with us? Send an e-mail to info@mplsimpulse.org. We’re especially interested in hearing from potential artistic collaborators and (unconventional) venues!

2016-2017 season is a go-go

Posted on July 4, 2016 by MPLS (imPulse)

We’re jumping for joy this week. Why? Your support has skyrocketed us into our third season! At the beginning of our new fiscal year, we want to thank ALL of our ticket buyers, donors, and volunteers for all of your support last season. With your help, we more than exceeded our budget goal for the year.

In ADDITION to this, we received news this week that we have received two very important grant awards. The first is an arts activities grant award from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, which will help support three projects in our upcoming season. The second award is a New Music USA award that we will use to commission three new choral works for our upcoming season. Stay tuned for a season announcement later this summer!

Thank you, MRAC! “This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.”


MPLS (imPulse) performs three distinct concert cycles during our program year. Each cycle uses a theme to guide our repertoire, collaborators, and choice of venue. Our eclectic programming has attracted a loyal audience hungry for new and experimental choral music they do not hear elsewhere in the Twin Cities.

We also count many “choral newbies” among our fans; people who wait in line for tickets to see Beyonce or The Pogues, but couldn’t tell you where the Minnesota Orchestra performs. They come for the themes, collaborators, and venues outside of the choral tradition…think beer, an old-time folk trio, psychedelic dreams, or a planetarium.

This audience cross-pollination benefits our collaborators. By using their spaces as concert venues, we bring new people and new energy to them. In a more direct contribution to their bottom-lines, we also encourage them to promote and sell their wares, services, and programs during the course of our performances.

In previous years, our concert cycles have accommodated two performances and 120-300 ticket-buying audience members. However, we sold out so many concerts this past year that we are planning to accommodate 350-400 audience members per cycle this upcoming season, through bigger venues, more varied locations, and/or more performances.

A few times, we have commissioned local composers for new pieces of music that suit our themes, but only when funds allowed (the Media page features a recording of our favorite result). For the 2016-2017 season, we want to up the ante and commission a new piece for each of our concert cycles.

Our upcoming year includes the following themes and collaborators:

1) imPulse Happy Hour: Tales from the Deep (February 3 & 4, 2017) – We are teaming up with Lake Monster Brewing Company in St. Paul to celebrate beer, underwater monster myths, and the folk rhymes that bring these two together.

2) The Neighborhood of Make-Believe (July 28, 2017) – Will you be my neighbor? MPLS (imPulse) joins Bart Buch and In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre for a staged summer production celebrating Phillips Neighborhood of Minneapolis. The performance will feature music and staged vignettes with puppets that utilize texts and themes from residents living in Phillips. The event will culminate with a parade and outdoor celebration following the performance.

3) Gardens are Prolific (October 2017) – Helping plants grow by singing in the urban greenhouses and rural barnyards managed by the Shared Ground Cooperative, a Twin-Cities based Community Supported Agriculture organization. Besides the scientifically-proven benefits of singing to plants, the concerts will immerse our audience in the a new way of sourcing and supporting healthy, locally-grown food in an urban environment.

Building community is the essence of MPLS (imPulse), and we, a community built on making music, believe we make our greatest artistic and social impacts when we leverage local composition talents in the name of our collaborators. The more Twin-Cities locals we connect, the better.

Project Media

All the Hemispheres
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Features: MPLS (imPulse)

Composed by Connor J Koppin (http://www.connorjkoppin.com/)
The text is an excerpt of Daniel Ledinsky’s English translation of “The Subject Tonight is Love,” a poem originally penned in Arabic by the 14th-century Persian-Sufi poet Hafez.

Performed by MPLS (ImPulse) and Scotty Horey (tambourine).

Commissioned by MPLS (ImPulse) for our Fall 2015 concert cycle about dreams: “Falling Awake.”

The attached recording is a mono take from our October 8, 2015 dress rehearsal at the cycle’s venue, the Capri Theater in north Minneapolis.

Start and End Dates



Twin Cities, Minnesota

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Last update on December 27, 2018

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Twin Cities, Minnesota
MPLS (imPulse) is a fully professional festival chamber chorus based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Founded in 2014 by Samuel Grace, our ensemble re-imagines the traditional choir through creative collaborations, narrative style programming, and engaging audiences in the most diverse and unusual spaces we can find. Audience members describe our performances as “an experience.” For us, simply…


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