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 (90 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, WITNESS, celebrates African American culture, while ¡Cantaré! brings the vibrancy of Mexican music to the classroom. More than 3,500 students participate in these programs each year.
Elder Learning Initiatives—Since 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 Projects—From 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.
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 120,000 students have participated in the 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 47th consecutive year.