Press Release

Celebrate Musical Siblings Felix and Fanny with VocalEssence Event—“THE MENDELSSOHNS”

Jennifer Weismann


Two prolific Romantic-era composers, one extraordinary program of music — April 4, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS—October 21, 2019—This spring, VocalEssence will feature compositions by siblings Felix Mendelssohn and Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel side by side in a single program, The Mendelssohns. The concert, on April 4, will present the VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers with artistic director Philip Brunelle and associate conductor G. Phillip Shoultz, III, alongside a chamber orchestra.

Press images are available here.

While music ran in the family, and both Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn were celebrated in their home country of Germany as performing and composing child prodigies in the early 1800s, only younger brother Felix’s talents resulted in educational opportunities and parental support for a career in music. Nevertheless, Fanny persisted, continuing composing into adulthood, and Felix returned to her again and again for musical counsel. The two shared an artistic bond that transcended familial camaraderie and lasted until their deaths, just six months apart.

“We know our audience will be thrilled to go deeper into the artistic world of this uniquely talented family—and we’re proud to treat our audience to a program of this music, the way it was often performed at Mendelssohn family gatherings—offering a few compositions from one sibling, and a few from the other,” said VocalEssence artistic director Philip Brunelle. “Outside the home, Fanny’s reputation was insignificant compared to her brother’s, and, unfortunately, some of her compositions were even attributed to him. But in recent years, thanks to concerts like ours, Fanny’s talent has received acknowledgement her brother would agree is much deserved.”

The Mendelssohns concert is at 8:00 pm on April 4, at Bethel University’s Benson Great Hall, 3900 Bethel Drive in Arden Hills. The performance will be preceded by a 7 p.m. conversation with VocalEssence artistic director Philip Brunelle. Tickets are priced between $20 and $40, and are available via the online box office and as part of a 2019-20 Concert Series Subscription. Call 612-371-5656 for more information on ticket purchases.

VocalEssence, called “one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time” by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, impacts thousands of students, singers, and composers each year through its initiative programs, contests, and support for innovative art. VocalEssence was founded in 1969 and has debuted more than 300 commissions and 500 world premieres. For more information, visit