Press Release

VocalEssence celebrates the holiday season with annual “Welcome Christmas!” concerts

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Welcome Christmas!

Sunday, December 7 at 4 pm
Sunday, December 14 at 4 pm
Plymouth Congregational Church
1900 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis

Friday, December 12 at 7:30 pm
Trinity Lutheran Church
115 North Fourth St., Stillwater

Saturday, December 13 at 7:30 pm
Normandale Lutheran Church
6100 Normandale Blvd., Edina

Tickets: $20, $30, $40 (Service charges may apply. Student tickets are half price. Group discounts are available.) To order, call 612-371-5656 (800-292-4141) or purchase at

Welcome Christmas Press PhotoMINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (September 15, 2008) – Now in their 32nd year, the annual VocalEssence Welcome Christmas! concerts have become a beloved Twin Cities holiday tradition. Under the direction of Philip Brunelle, the VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers will celebrate the holiday season with performances on December 7, 12, 13 & 14, 2008 at a variety of churches throughout the metropolitan area. Tickets are $20-$40 (students half-price, group discounts available). For tickets and information, call 612-371-5656 or visit

The centerpiece of this season’s Welcome Christmas! concerts is the world premiere of El Niño de los Andes (The Child of the Andes), written for VocalEssence by Ecuadorian composer Diego Luzuriaga, a past winner of annual Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest. With music inspired by Andean melodies and instrumental colors, this semi-staged Christmas cantata calls for six soloists, choir, and six instrumentalists, including two performing the native Andean instruments of charango, tiple, quena, quenilla, quenacho, and zampoñas. Set in the imaginary Andean town of Quirán in the 19th century, El Niño de los Andes draws on elements of the Christmas story, Cinderella, and the mythology of Pachamama – the Andean Mother Earth. The composition will be performed in Spanish with English narration.

Soprano Sonja Tengblad will be featured as Maria, a young village woman; tenor Anders Eckman will portray Manuel, the impoverished baker’s son who loves her. Jhony Garcia and Mauricio Ochoa of the Ecuadorian musical duo “Amauta” will play the Andean folk instruments.

Sponsored by VocalEssence and American Composers Forum, the 11th Annual Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest calls for new music for chorus and French horn. This year’s winning carols are by Scott Ethier (Astoria, NY) and Peter Hilliard (Roslyn, PA).

The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers will give the world premiere of Richard Rodney Bennett’s My Dancing Day, co-commissioned by VocalEssence Ensemble Singer Jerry Johnson and the BBC Singers.

In addition to future holiday favorites, Welcome Christmas! features traditional Christmas carols – concluding with a rousing audience sing-along of Conrad Susa’s A Christmas Garland featuring well-known carols, including “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.” Welcome Christmas! is guaranteed to send holiday spirits soaring!

For press information and photographs related to Welcome Christmas!, please contact Jennifer Bauer (612-547-1459,