Hope Renewed Digital Concert Program

Yellow and purple crocuses blooming in the grass. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Image
VocalEssence Chorus
VocalEssence Ensemble Singers
VocalEssence Singers Of This Age
Shanelle Gabriel, guest artist
Casey Rafn, piano
Philip Brunelle, conductor
G. Phillip Shoultz, III, conductor


Welcome to the final concert of this 55th season—I know there are a few hardy souls who were here for season #1! It has been a wonderful experience to bring the music of so many marvelous choral composers to life through the voices of our singers! Thank you, everyone, for being here!
This season began with a favorite match: the VocalEssence singers and the St. Olaf Choir. It was glorious to hear this array of voices at Central Lutheran Church in music that celebrated our theme: Together We Sing. Welcome Christmas returned to Northrop at the University of Minnesota with all 4 VocalEssence choirs together on stage with music from many countries including Estonia, Ukraine, Argentina, France, Sweden, England, and the USA. The next week the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers performed Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the orchestra of the Bach Society of Minnesota, now an annual event! Celebrating Philip’s 55th season as Artistic Director it made sense to have the Ensemble Singers perform Philip’s Favorites at the American Swedish Institute with Anthony Ross as guest cellist. The 34th year of WITNESS concerts focused on the theme Leading With Love with our beloved friend Melanie DeMore as guest artist. And now we come to our season finale—Hope Renewed—a theme that embraces what VocalEssence has been about for 55 years—HOPE!
Hope Renewed seeks to give fresh life to justice and hope through exploring our relationships with one another and with creation. The concert opens with the VocalEssence Chorus sharing two engaging settings of poetry. Rabindranath Tagore, a 20th century Bengali poet, invites us to approach life from the place of “lightly dancing with time.” e.e. cummings’ evocative expression of gratitude for all that exists around us “on this most amazing day” is the basis for the second song in this set. Next, the VocalEssence Singers Of This Age (SOTA) takes us on a journey across the African diaspora through time and place, with a spiritual from the Georgia Sea Islands, a South African song of encouragement, and a step routine that is sure to make you want to get up and dance! The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers solo set features a stunning selection by Finnish composer Jussi Chydenius, an exuberant confluence of piano and voices in the music of John Wykoff, and an ebullient celebration in Kitty Brazelton’s O Joy. The first half of the program concludes with a soulful celebration of hope by Dave Brubeck and a tribute to our beloved friend, Alice Parker, who passed away last Christmas Eve and was considered by many to be the matriarch of American choral music.
The second half reflects one of our core priorities at VocalEssence—the performance of new music and features premiere performances of two extended works. First, we hear the world premiere of Dan Godfrey’s Time and Tomorrow (A Dialogue between Generations) composed for double choir and four-hand piano, featuring the poetry of SOTA alumnus and mentor singer, Ursula Beitz. The program concludes with the Minnesota premiere of the latest piece by ACDA Genesis prize winning composer Kyle Pederson. VocalEssence is proud to be part of the consortium of choirs that commissioned this unique five movement work that shares the message of building bridges and caring for all. A Vision Unfolding features the poetry of Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman, and Shanelle Gabriel. We are thrilled to have Shanelle performing as our spoken word artist this evening, having enjoyed the workshops and conversations she’s led during her residency.
This final concert marks the amazing conclusion of 21 years for Mary Ann Aufderheide as Executive Director. On behalf of all the staff, board, and artists, we—Philip Brunelle and G. Phillip Shoultz, III—want to thank Mary Ann for her exemplary leadership of VocalEssence and wish her the best for her years ahead.
—Philip Brunelle, Artistic Director, VocalEssence
—G. Phillip Shoultz, III, Associate Artistic Director, VocalEssence


Craig Carnahan (b. 1951)
Christopher Aspaas (b. 1973)
Bongani Magatyana, Aural tradition, as taught by Mollie Stone
African American Spiritual, arr. Nick Page (b. 1952)
Robert T. Gibson (b. 1990)
Jussi Chydenius (b. 1972)
John Wykoff (b. 1982)
Kitty Brazelton (b. 1951)
Alice Parker (1925-2023)
from To Hope! A Celebration
Dave Brubeck (1920-2012)
Daniel Strong Godfrey (b. 1949)
Commissioned by Marian A. Godfrey, Linda Hoeschler, and Peter Blyberg for VocalEssence Chorus and Singers Of This Age, G. Phillip Shoultz, III, conductor.
Dedicated to the composer’s grandsons, Jacob and Aiden Godfrey.
World Premiere
Kyle Pederson (b. 1971)
Minnesota Premiere, VocalEssence Consortium Commission

Texts and Program Notes

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time
like dew on the tip of a leaf.
–Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)


I thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
I who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened
–e.e. cummings (1894-1962)  


AZI SENZENI NA, Bongani Magatyana, Aural tradition, as taught by Mollie Stone
Sung in Zulu/Xhosa
What have we done to you, Father?
The young ones sleep without being fed.
AIDS has taken their dad.
What have we done to you, Father?
The young one doesn’t listen
When the elder speaks.
What have we done to you, Father?
Father, God almighty!
What are our sins?
What have we done in the face of the Lord?
Father, God Almighty!


HONEY IN THE ROCK, African American Spiritual, arr. Nick Page 
There’s Honey in the Rock for all God’s Children,
Honey in the rock, Honey in the Rock
There’s Honey in the Rock for all God’s Children,
Feed every child of God.
We can have justice if we care.
Right is right and fair is fair.
Heart to heart and hand to hand,
Together we’ll push to the promised land.
One of these mornin’s bright and fair,
Gonna’ take my flight in the middle of the air.
One of these nights about twelve o’clock.
This whole world’s gonna reel and rock.
If we’re gonna’ be fair,
We gotta’ open the door;
We gotta’ house the homeless and feed the poor.
If the chains hold us down, we gotta’ break the lock,
Then we’ll taste sweet honey in the rock.
There’s Honey in the Rock for all God’s Children,
Honey in the rock, Honey in the Rock
There’s Honey in the Rock for all God’s Children,
Feed every child of God.


DANCE, Robert T. Gibson 
Dance to the rhythm of your own drum.
We can all be different,
there’s no fear or shame.
Oh, but I still love you,
love you just the same.


I AM THE GREAT SUN, Jussi Chydenius 
I am the great sun, but you do not see me,
I am your husband, but you turn away.
I am the captive, but you do not free me,
I am the captain but you will not obey.
I am the truth, but you will not believe me,
I am the city where you will not stay.
I am your wife, your child, but you will leave me,
I am that God to whom you will not pray.
I am your counsel, but you will not hear me,
I am your lover whom you will betray.
I am the victor, but you do not cheer me,
I am the holy dove whom you will slay.
I am your life, but if you will not name me,
Seal up your soul with tears, and never blame me.
–Charles Causley (1917-2003)


We are more than this world of love and music.
We are more than flesh and finitude.
We are more than space and time can compass,
More than mass and matter crude.
We are light, radiant. Untethered.
We are spirit, here to feel the sun.
We are energy, focused for a moment.
Flesh and spirit briefly one.
We are merely travelers though infinity.
The earth an inn at the edge of forever.
–Charles Anthony Silvestri


OH JOY!, Kitty Brazelton 
O joy!
Have we forsaken sadness?
Obliterate the madness of little things
To sing, to sing, to sing out!
O joy!
Abandon despair
all ye who enter here
Cast off heartbreak
Discard care
to sing, to sing, to sing out!
I cried unto God with my voice,
and he listened to me.
In the day of my trouble, I sought out the Lord;
my pain stretched into night and never ceased:
my soul refused to be comforted.
Then I remembered God and cried out loud;
I sang to myself and my spirit swooned.
My opening eyes were seized;
I was so agitated I could not speak.
I have thought of those old days
which I hold in my mind for years to eternity
And I meditate now on my own heart’s song that night
and sing it to my spirit.
–Psalm 77:1-6, adapted by Kitty Brazelton


Help me, Lord, find the common ground
between the high and the low, between the poor and the rich,
between the old and the young, between the black and the white.
Help me find the common ground
between the shouting and the silence, between the bound and the free,
between the brief and the joy, between the heart and the mind.
Open us, Lord, guide us to that meeting place,
where we can see each other, hear each other,
care for each other.
Where we can sing together, work together,
play together on the common ground.
come, let us meet together on the common ground.
–Alice Parker


ALL MY HOPE, from To Hope! A Celebration, Dave Brubeck 
All my hope is in you, O Lord,
You are my rock and my strength.
Hope in darkness, my hope in light.
You are my rock and my strength.
My hope, my light,
My peace, my joy,
My faith, my life everlasting.
You are my rock and my strength.
–Selections from Revised Roman Rituals with
added original text by Iola Brubeck




Time and Tomorrow is a dialogue between a youth chorus and a chorus of adult singers. The text was written by Singers Of This Age alumnus and mentor singer, Ursula Beitz as a synthesis of ideas shared among the teen singers.
After a brief piano introduction, the first part begins with a musical exchange where the youth ask pressing questions about past, present and future, and adults answer in a reassuring tone that belies an underlying uncertainty. In the second part, after a brief instrumental interlude, the roles are reversed, and the adults ask questions with music and words that no longer hide their concern. The youth respond with honest reflections on the unpredictable future they face.
Youth: Can you tell us of the past?
Adults: We’ll try to tell you all we know.
Youth: Can you lead us on the path?
Adults: We can only follow you where you go.
Youth: What will happen when you’re gone?
Adults: You’ll keep on looking for the sun.
Youth: But what of the dust rising, chasing at our heels?
Adults: Tomorrow the rain will come.
Adults: Do you see the storm ahead?
Youth: We see it rising in the sky.
Adults: Can you weather all its winds?
Youth: We cannot know; we can only try.
Adults: Will the things we planted grow?
Youth: Only passing time can say.
Adults: Won’t the wait be far too long?
Youth: The time is passing anyway.
Together: Will you keep looking for the sun?
We’ll keep on looking for the sun, or the sun, the sun…
–Ursula Beitz


In 2021, seven choirs around the country commissioned me to write an extended work, centered broadly around themes of social justice. I didn’t want to write a big work around these themes merely from my own perspective, so I reached out to Shanelle Gabriel, an African American poet, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter from NYC. Our conversations turned to “what sort of vision do we want to cast for the audience and the singers?”
We determined that, at the core, we hoped to re-articulate and explore what our country has stood for in its best moments. In our foundational texts and speeches, we find powerful declarations of a nation rooted in equality, freedom, justice, and inclusion. Shanelle and I wanted this whole work to be invitational—to be reminded of the compelling vision that we live into in our best moments, and to be invited to say “yes” to more of that.
It is my hope that we lean into the invitation that the choir offers—that each of us might reach out beyond our comfort zone and seek to build bridges of care and connection, finding a better way of being in community. That we might stand in solidarity with those whose voices are too often dismissed, regardless of their skin color, sexual orientation, faith background, or other characteristic. That we might not dismiss, disdain, and judge those whose politics are different from ours, but that we might make the uncomfortable effort to see them as people just as worthy of respect and dignity.
I’m grateful to Shanelle Gabriel, whose beautiful and challenging text is threaded throughout this work. You can read more about Shanelle and her work at ShanelleGabriel.com.
Special thanks to Kevin Fenton, who provided the initial vision and encouragement for this project, and who coordinated the consortium of choirs who commissioned this work.
The poet is asking God’s spirit to reach down and lift us up—lift us out of the pit, out of the darkness, and lift us to the light…lift us up to wholeness. In the spoken word that precedes this movement, Shanelle Gabriel does something important: the narrator asks not only God to reach down—but the narrator challenges the listener to reach down…to get into the mess with those who are hurting and to lift them up. So when the choir sings the refrain, Reach Down, Lord, we hear not only a cry to God, but also an invitation to all of us, to reach down—and out—to another.
Reach down, Lord.
Reach your justice down.
When we walk on the broken road,
Reach your justice down.
If we stumble into the pit
And the dark is all we see,
Reach below and lift us up;
Reach your justice down.
Reach down, Lord.
Reach your justice down.
When we walk in the shadow of death,
Reach your justice down.
–Robert Bode

This iconic Walt Whitman poem was written during the Civil War. It’s an in-your-face text, exploring how ordinary daily life is impossible during war; everything is disrupted. Whitman is also rallying the listener—at the time his Union countrymen—to join the righteous fight to end slavery, and to preserve the union that was the United States. In the spoken word that precedes this movement, Shanelle sets this poem up beautifully by challenging us to rally around the cause of justice…to make our quest today for justice central to our lives…inviting us to think of this text not as a battle cry to fight against one another with weapons, but to fight for each other, giving all we have to make this vision of wholeness in community a reality. Musically, the beat of the drum, the blow of the bugle, along with meter and rhythm changes, highlight the incessancy of the Whitman text.
Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying,
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.
Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers’ bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow.
Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley—stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow.
—Walt Whitman

I think we all sense our communities becoming more fractured; we witness individual relationships fraying in our neighborhoods, schools, churches, places of work, and even our families. One of the root causes of this is, I believe, how quick we are to judge others—and hold others in contempt— for their politics, their religion, gender or sexual expression, skin color, class, education level, and a host of other characteristics. This piece is an invitation to lay down our judgments. It’s also an invitation to see those aspects of identity that are important to people…but to see people around us as more than just a collection of isolated characteristics…to see all of them.
Look at my skin.
Do you see only skin, or the soul within… do you see what’s true?
Look who I love.
Do you view me as less, like none of the rest of me matters to you?
Turn off the talk on the air,
and the voices who seem to just care about dividing and hiding us where you won’t see.
Look at my faith.
Do you see my creed, and choose to believe that’s all of me?
Look at my vote.
On that alone are you likely to show contempt for me?
You don’t have to see.
But if you take the time to look at me, you’ll see the same fears and a good heart, and the same tears that tear you apart.
See the same love, the same hope,
the same need, the same joy.
So look at my skin.
See the skin and the soul within. See what’s true.
Look who I love.
And see my faith and my vote, but not those alone,
seek to know me, too.
Turn up the voices of truth. Learn to let mercy through. Love will guide us to
a world where we see.
All of me.
Turn and see. Will you see? All of me.
—Kyle Pederson
Shanelle’s text is a call to action: to live our light and love out into the world—a world that desperately needs light and love. It seemed fitting that this piece includes a section where both spoken word and singing happen simultaneously, joining the two primary artistic expressions of the greater work and allowing all choir members to give voice to the sense of immediacy present in the spoken word.
Light transforms the darkness, so go…go and let your light out. Love is what we harness, so go…go and live your love out.
We are all unified by the way our heart beats
What you feel, I feel
Different palettes and hues and variety The Creator’s tapestry
We need to see the light
Don’t let the darkness hide our humanity
This is a calling.
We’ve been blinded by hate we were taught to believe That’s not how it should be
If my brother or sister is chained
There’s no way I can say I’m free
We are the change we need So that equality can be reality
Calling you to set your heart ablaze
Raise the torch, pave the way
So all can say I am free
Calling for all to have the ability to dream To see ourselves in every being
I want you to be free
For all to find home
Wherever they may go
Step into action, words no longer hollow We will fight for you to be free
Called to stand for all races, abilities, religions, identities
No matter who you love You are worthy
You deserve to be free
I will fight for you to be free
This is our calling
We are invited into each other’s life We are called to live love
Called to be that light
—Shanelle Gabriel
The work concludes with the iconic Langston Hughes text. The choir and narrator have been casting a vision, and it’s hard to state it better than Hughes; I dream a world where none are scorned, where love will bless the earth and peace its paths adorn. At the end of the movement, the listener will hear earlier melodies reprised as all voices are gradually layered in; and for the first time, all instruments sound together, building to a thunderous conclusion that invites us all to say, “yes…that’s a vision I want to help make real.”
I dream a world where one
No other one will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every one is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all humankind–
Of such I dream, my world!
–Langston Hughes

Shanelle Gabriel

Shanelle Gabriel is an internationally touring poet, singer, education consultant, and lupus warrior from Brooklyn, NY. Widely known for featuring on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, she has shared her fusion of poetry and soulful singing on stages with artists such as Jill Scott, Nas, Nikki Giovanni, and more. She has shared her talent on countless global stages (from Lincoln Center to the Vatican), and has crafted artistic messaging for brands and companies including Pandora, NFL Draft, BET and Hershey among others. With over 18 years as an educator and Masters in Education from Teachers College at Columbia University, she works to transform the lives of the next generation through educational trainings and consulting while serving as an advocate for lupus, a disease she has battled since 2004. Shanelle is the mother of three musical and poetry-centered albums, which are available on all streaming platforms.


Ernest Bisong, violin
Joe Hazlett, trumpet
Jeff Bina, snare drum

Lead with Love Pledge

We were created for community and need one another to truly survive. To Lead with Love is to acknowledge that everyone deserves the right to live in a world that allows them to be fully alive and thrive. Leading with love is not just a choice that we make or a mindset that we adopt, it is cultivating the practice of belovedness and hospitality each and every day.
The Lead with Love pledge is comprised of twelve statements that invite us to nurture habits of caring and connection.
I will LISTEN.
I will ENCOURAGE others to be the best versions of themselves.
I will ASK questions so I can better understand the perspectives of those around me.
I will DEEPEN my awareness of the needs that exist in our communities.
I will WORK with others to strengthen our communities.
I will INVEST my time, talents, and resources to help improve the lives of those around me.
I will TAKE TIME for reflection and TAKE ACTION when the situation calls for it.
I will HOLD OTHERS UP when they experience difficulties and disappointments.
I will LET MY VOICE BE HEARD and speak up in the face of injustice.
I will OPEN DOORS through conversation and compromise.
I will VALIDATE the differences that make us unique.
I will EMBRACE changes that allow us to better live in community with one another.
Click the button below to sign the pledge to “lead with love.”

Sign the Pledge


At this year’s VocalEssence WITNESS: Leading with Love concert, we featured a showcase of Black makers and entrepreneurs who align themselves with the message of “leading with love.” Click the button below to learn more about the participating businesses and artists.

Black-Owned Business and Artist Showcase Participants

About VocalEssence

For 55 years, VocalEssence has provided opportunities for singers from the Twin Cities area to create incredible music together and build connections as part of the vibrant arts community in Minnesota.
VocalEssence is known for introducing audiences to music and artists who are not yet known, often welcoming guest artists, composers, and conductors who are emerging, have unknown works, or represent a variety of cultures. Welcoming all members of the greater community, VocalEssence embodies the motto: Together We Sing.
VocalEssence draws upon the power of singing together to nurture community, inspire creativity, affirm the value of all persons, and expand the influence of choral music.
Artistic Director and Founder
Philip Brunelle, artistic director and founder of VocalEssence 55 years ago, is an internationally-renowned conductor, choral scholar, and visionary. Philip has conducted symphonies, choral festivals, and operas on six continents. He holds five honorary degrees, served 9 years as Vice President of IFCM (International Federation for Choral Music), and has been recognized for his commitment to choral music by the governments of Norway, Hungary, Sweden, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. In 2019, he was awarded the American Prize in Choral Conducting and, in 2020, was given the Honorary Member Award by the Society for American Music. Last fall Philip was appointed a National Arts Associate of the Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity. Philip is also Organist-Choirmaster at Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis. During the pandemic Philip recorded 300 “Musical Moments” which can be accessed at https:// www.vocalessence.org/what-we-do/virtual-projects/musical-moments-with-philip-brunelle/ and his thoughts on music are at RenaissanceManpodcast.com. Philip and his wife Carolyn, a studio artist, have 3 children (Tim, Christopher and Elise) and 7 grandchildren.
Associate Artistic Director
G. Phillip Shoultz, III, associate artistic director, uses the power of the spoken word and song to foster community and inspire action among people of all ages and abilities. Phillip conducts festival choirs and leads workshops across the United States and beyond. He serves on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas and guides the ministries of worship, music, and the arts at Westwood Lutheran Church. An accomplished curator of multi-disciplinary community collaborations, Phillip is the Artistic Director of the University of Minnesota Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert. The Minnesota Orchestra regularly engages Phillip to host their Young People’s Concerts and his online presence continues to grow as his pandemic livestream, Take 5 with GPS, recently reached the 500-episode milestone. The winner of numerous honors, including the ACDA Graduate Conducting Competition and multiple Teacher of the Year awards, Phillip founded “Table for More” in the summer of 2020 to help organizations address issues related to innovation, equity, racial justice, and belonging in the arts. Phillip lives in St. Louis Park with his wife, Michelle, and their two children (Malachi and Lydia Grace).
Learning and Engagement Manager
Conductor, Vintage Voices
Robert Graham is the Learning and Engagement Manager at VocalEssence where he serves as the conductor for the VocalEssence Vintage Voices choirs, and oversees the renowned VocalEssence WITNESS School Program. Robert has a Master of Music degree in both vocal performance and choral conducting from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and a B.A. in vocal performance from Xavier University of Louisiana. Robert currently serves as a section leader of the adult choir at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, sings second tenor in the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers, and also performs around the Twin Cities as a solo and chamber musician.
Pianist Casey Rafn enjoys a varied career as a collaborative pianist both in the United States and abroad, in Europe and Latin America. He is a member of ‘Trés’, whose saxophone-piano trio was just nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Instrumental Album for their new album “Romance al Campesino Porteño.” Casey often collaborates in concert or recordings with members of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and University of Minnesota School of Music faculty. As a piano soloist he took top prizes at the International Liszt-Garrison Competition in Baltimore, has appeared with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, and has taught at both the University of Minnesota School of Music and the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts.
Accompanist, VocalEssence Vintage Voices
John Jensen received his music degrees in Southern California, where he attended Occidental College and University of Southern California. While there he free-lanced as a studio musician, playing on the Andy Williams show and touring the country with prominent singers through Columbia Artists Management. He moved to Iowa and taught for 15 years at Grinnell College as an artist-in-residence. In 1990, John moved to St. Paul and has played with VocalEssence, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. In November 2022, John appeared with the Yale Symphony Orchestra at Yale University to play and record a piano concerto by the late Paul Reale, for Naxos records (to be released in 2023).

VocalEssence Chorus 2023-24, photo credit-Bruce Silcox

The VocalEssence Chorus is a group of talented and enthusiastic singers from many different walks of life, united by their love of singing and community. Performing a wide variety of musical styles, premiering new works, and sharing the stage with a diverse array of guest artists, the Chorus is a welcome home for singers who wish to continue making music throughout their adult lives.
Ann Ambach
AnnaLisa Anderson
Madison Asher
Jessica Belt
Christine Boone
Corey Cellurale
Amanda Connolly
Emily Dyrdahl
Eva Gibney-Jones
Lillian Gray
Kristina M. Guiffre
Becca Hovsepian
Claire Huber
Sally Jaffray
Elinor Jones
Magdalena Koebele
Laura Langan
Clara Lind
Emily D. Seifers
Ashley Slattery
Leah Sovick
Abbie Sulik
Dana Terres
Katherine Tonn Eisinger
Amanda Troolin
Jennifer Vickerman
Dannika Wright
Akosua Obuo Addo
Nancy Jo Aldrich
Azure Anderson
Johanna Beaupre
Jo Beld
Katelyn Belden
Mary Depew
Grace Dokken
Maggie Driemeyer
Autumn Gurgel Valentini
Marjorie Rose Hakala
Meg Hanna
Dee Hein
Grace Alice Herbertz
Brianna Hill
Emma Jirele
Katie Kovacovich
Wenie Lado
Jessica Laven Johnson
Jeenee Lee
Ana M. Levya
Carly Lunden
Danica McDonald
Rachel Moniz
Kristi Mueller
Elizabeth Neuenfeldt
Liz Raimann
Marty Raymond
Miriam Sahouani
Erin Sandsmark
Katie Sandsmark
Lisa Kathleen Schalla
Sydney Schoeberle
Forrest Schrader
Laura Tanner
Allie Wigley
Steve Aggergaard
David Ampaabeng
Brett Bacon
Larry J Brandts
Cheryl A. Calloway
Justin Clark
Ryan Coopergard
Ben Demaree
Grant Gilbert Dunne
Tim Emery
Reagan Lee
Owen Metzger
Kurtis Parlin
Thomas Sasdi
Barry John Tikalsky
Ethan Williams
Robert Atendido
David Castro
Adam Hecker
Russ Kaplan
Evan Clay Kelly
Jordan Kiffmeyer
Jacob Koshiol
Phil Lowry
Noah K Lucas
Nicholas Marcouiller
Thomas Mondry
Nicholas Mroczek
Milo Oien-Rochat
David Olson
Ron Pearson
Brian D. Ruhl
Josh Snapp
Trent Stenoien
Dave Toht
Jacob Hurley Weindling

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers 2023-24, photo credit-Bruce Silcox

The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers have established an international reputation because of their extensive catalog of recordings and broad range of unique repertoire. This chamber choir, whose members hail from a wide variety of professions, is bound together by their skilled artistry to create what The Times of London has described as a “flawless” sound.
Jennifer Bevington
Elsa Buck
Chloe Johnson
JoAnna Johnson
Natalia Romero
Kathryn Rupp
Mari Scott
Carey Shunskis
Robin Joy Helgen
Patty Kramer
Audrey Lane-Getaz
Judith McClain
Anna G Meek
Carolyn Nuelle
Kristina Rodel Sorum
Catherine Terres
Peter Aldrich
Eli Baumgartner
Will Berendsen
Ben Brunnette
Jared Campbell
Robert J. Graham
Jonah Herzog
Phil Reilly
Joseph Ellickson
David Gindra
Joe Kastner
Erik Krohg
Nathan Petersen-
Dr. Michael P. Schmidt
Benjamin Shermoc

Members of VocalEssence Singers Of This Age on performing stage wearing multi colored shirts.
VocalEssence Singers Of This Age, photo credit-Anna Min

The VocalEssence Singers Of This Age (VESOTA) is a community of Twin Cities teenagers engaged in expanding what it means to be a choir and, encouraging a wider circle of participation in the artform. Presenting music ranging from classical to hip-hop, they use creativity and collaboration to build an accepting community, equipped with the skills to lead social change in our society.
Alice Weiland
Alyssa Witty
Anaje Colquitt
Ani Yorkhall
Anna Delaney
Audrey Tuite
Aurora Silpala
Avery Somdahl
Benny DiGerlando
Dede Jones
Esme Wright
Essie Botz
Jadesola “Ghost”
Harry Linter
Henrik Mills
Ian Ronning
Jimmy Tucker
Jer Vang
Joshua Ramirez
Kaija Halvorson
Kiara Steiner
Leah Odegaard-Dunning
Lela Sabin
Lily Hiebert
Mahogony “Mo”
Elizabeth “Moxie”
Natalie Goodman
Jerusha “Ru” Burdette
Ruby Atkins
Ursula Beitz
Wendy Mulewa
Yawn Ye Thao
Zola Ranum

Three adult Vintage Voices members holding black folders and singing. Photo Credit: Adja Gildersleve
Vintage Voices members, photo credit-Adja Gildersleve

VocalEssence Vintage Voices is an exciting choral program that integrates the arts into the everyday lives of older adults. Guided by a desire to create a welcoming atmosphere and remove barriers for participation, these choirs sing to build community, combat loneliness and isolation, and improve physical and emotional wellbeing.

VocalEssence Board of Directors and Staff

Carolina Maranon-Cobos
Torrie Allen
Vice President
Daniel Fernelius
Kristen Hoeschler O’Brien
Mary Ann Aufderheide
Anna Boyle
Tanya M. Bransford
Philip Brunelle
Ben Brunnette
Amber Cales
Mirella Ceja-Orozco
Margaret Chutich
Dan Dressen
Martha Driessen
Cassandra Garnett
Autumn Gurgel
Valton Henderson
Daniel Kantor
Lisa Merklin Lewis
Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed
Richard Neuner
Kristine Oberg
Jim Odland
Doug Parish
Joanne Reeck
G. Phillip Shoultz, III
Jeff Smith
Amanda Storm Schuster
Timothy C. Takach
Bob Thacker
Elizabeth Truesdell Smith
Ann Barkelew
Ann Buran
Art Kaemmer*
Nikki Lewis
Mike McCarthy*
Dave Mona
Fred Moore
Don Shelby
Dorene Wernke
Dominick Argento*
William Bolcom
Dave Brubeck*
Stewart Copeland
Aaron Copland*
Håkan Hagegård
Louise Heffelfinger*
Eskil Hemberg*
Betty Hulings*
Sigrid Johnson*
James Earl Jones
Garrison Keillor
Donald Mitchell*
Helmuth Rilling
John Rutter
Peter Schickele*
Dr. André J. Thomas
Eric Whitacre
*In remembrance
Philip Brunelle
Artistic Director and Founder
G. Phillip Shoultz, III
Associate Artistic Director
Robert Graham
Learning and Engagement Manager | Conductor, Vintage Voices
Casey Rafn
John Jensen
Accompanist, Vintage Voices
Azure Anderson
Executive Assistant
Mary Ann Aufderheide
Executive Director
Jeff Bina
Director of Finance and Operations
Rhiannon Fiskradatz
Learning and Engagement Manager
Laura Holst
Development and Marketing Associate
Emma Jirele Sandhurst
Learning and Engagement Manager
Ethan Johnson
Director of Artistic Operations
Amanda Timmer
Director of Marketing and Communications
Elissa Weller
Director of Development

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Thank you VocalEssence Supporters

VocalEssence has a large group of committed supporters and is honored by the many gifts received in memory, appreciation, and celebration of friends and family that are too many to list in this concert program. Please click the button below to see a full list of supporters and special tributes.

VocalEssence Supporters

Special Thanks

Sari Baker
Ursula Beitz
Benjamin Eng
Robert T. Gibson
Dan Godfrey
Thomas Mondry
Nick Mroczek
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Kyle Pederson
Mollie Stone
Westwood Lutheran Church

Special Thanks for the Support of this Concert