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Philip Brunelle

Artistic Director and Founder phone 612-547-1451 fax 612-547-1484 Philip Brunelle, artistic director and founder of VocalEssence, is an internationally renowned conductor, choral scholar and visionary. He has made his lifelong mission the promotion of the choral art in all its forms, especially rarely heard works of the past and outstanding new music. Under his…  Read More

Elissa Weller

Director of Development phone 612-547-1452 fax 612-547-1484 Elissa Weller is Director of Development for VocalEssence, overseeing all philanthropic efforts for the organization including individual, corporate, foundation, and government funding sources, major gifts, special events and fundraisers. In her role, she oversees the Development and Gala committees. Elissa joined VocalEssence in 2007 as the Chorus…  Read More

Mary Ann Aufderheide

Executive Director phone 612-547-1454 fax 612-547-1464 Mary Ann Aufderheide joined VocalEssence as managing director in 2003. Under her leadership she has firmly established the VocalEssence brand name as representing excellence in choral music and community engagement programs. During her tenure the organization has expanded its core of professional singers who tour regionally and internationally;…  Read More

Robert J. Graham

Learning and Engagement Manager | Conductor, Vintage Voices phone 612-547-1458 fax 612-547-1484 Robert J. Graham joined the VocalEssence team in August 2012 as both a member of the administrative staff and as a second tenor in the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers.  Robert oversees the operations of the acclaimed VocalEssence WITNESS School Program. In 2015, Robert…  Read More

Laura Holst

Development and Marketing Associate phone 612-547-1473 fax 612-547-1484 Laura Holst, Development and Marketing Associate, has been on staff at VocalEssence since August 2006. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from St. Olaf College and a Master of Arts degree in arts administration from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. In addition…  Read More

Fundraising Events

VocalEssence hosts various small events throughout each season to engage and inform new audiences about the incredible work we do. Our largest event is our biennial gala fundraiser, which take place again in the Spring of 2022. Click the link below for more information. VocalEssence Gala 2024


From ushering at our concerts to assisting with special projects throughout the year in our office, VocalEssence is grateful for the talents and support of our many volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out our general interest form. To see current volunteer opportunities and sign up, view our volunteer job calendar.  …  Read More

About VocalEssence

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…  Read More


Our staff is small but mighty. A combination of well-known leaders in the music industry, experts in non-profit management, and administrative dynamos, we ensure VocalEssence lives up to its reputation as one of the leading arts organizations in the nation. Take a minute to learn more about us. Artistic Staff (biographies) Philip Brunelle, Artistic Director…  Read More

Board of Directors

The VocalEssence Board of Directors serve as ambassadors for the organization in the larger community. They also guide VocalEssence in all major policy decisions while ensuring the financial stability of VocalEssence. Board Officers Carolina Maranon-Cobos, President Program Manager, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota Torrie Allen, Vice President President and CEO, Arts Midwest Daniel Fernelius,…  Read More

Financial Information

For 50 years, VocalEssence has been a leader in fiscal responsibility in Minnesota. We have never ended a fiscal year with a deficit.  Below are links to our recent audits and 990s. If you have questions about our financial information, please contact: Mary Ann Aufderheide | Executive Director 612-547-1451 Downloadable PDF Size VocalEssence FY2021…  Read More

Annual Report

These annual reports describe the many ways VocalEssence is impacting the community through song. Click the button below to see the 2021-2022 Annual Report as well as some of the most recent reports for VocalEssence. 2021-2022 Annual Report 2018-2019 Annual Report (PDF) 2017-2018 Annual Report (PDF) 2016-2017 Annual Report (PDF) 2015-2016 Annual Report (PDF) 2014-2015…  Read More

Press Room

Thank you for your interest in VocalEssence and all that we do—and are—as a leading arts organization. As we engage our community through our innovative choral programming, education programs, elder learning initiatives and choral advocacy, we have garnered many media mentions and reviews, some of which we have compiled. We offer press professionals access to the following…  Read More

Why Sing?

Sing with us! On any given day, in towns both large and small, choirs across the country present hundreds of beautiful concerts. While audiences and choir singers alike have long understood the intrinsic value of singing together, the 2019 Chorus Impact Study commissioned by Chorus America also shows us that participation in choirs cultivates positive…  Read More

Performing Ensembles

The VocalEssence name is synonymous with excellence in choral performance. Internationally, our choruses are recognized for their flawless sound, innovative programming, and commitment to today’s composers. Closer to home, our concert series have been a well-known Minnesota tradition for more than 50 years. Learn more about VocalEssence performing ensembles: VocalEssence Chorus—Our 110-voice chorus was called…  Read More