Press Release

(4/17/2006) VocalEssence announces the 2006-2007 Concert Season: Music beyond all borders

VocalEssence News
For Immediate Release
Contact: Katryn Conlin, 612-547-1459

Minneapolis (April 17, 2006) – American choral music is as varied and rich as the myriad cultures that make up the United States. In the 2006-2007 Season, VocalEssence will dedicate several concerts to celebrating the diversity of American voices, as well as exploring exciting repertoire from other cultures. Season tickets are on sale now, and single tickets for most events will go on sale August 21, 2006. For tickets and information, the public may call 612-624-2345 or visit

The 2006-2007 Season begins in grand style with American Voices, an uplifting performance of American choral masterpieces, and ends with Illuminating Bolcom, a two-week festival celebrating the peerless creativity of one of America’s foremost living composers. WITNESS honors an American hero, Rosa Parks, while Garrison Keillor, an American icon, weaves spooky tales for Halloween in Ghost Songs & Stories. And composer Carol Barnett turns her hand to writing a new work based on an American tradition for Bluegrass Harmonies.

From outside the United States, VocalEssence welcomes the Westminster Cathedral Choir of London for a special performance at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Welcome Christmas! features Conrad Susa’s charming Carols & Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest, a setting of Spanish, Mexican and Puerto Rican carols that will be complemented by seasonal music from around the globe. Venezuelan conductor Maria Guinand will lead the Ensemble Singers into Renaissance Spain and modern Argentina with Spanish Inspirations.

For additional press information and images, please contact Katryn Conlin, VocalEssence Communications Director at or 612-547-1459.

Download press photos for VocalEssence events at >news_and_media > image and file downloads.


VocalEssence 2006-2007 Concert Season

American Voices
With special guests Cantus
Sunday, October 1, 2006 (4 pm), Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis
VocalEssence and the 9-voice male ensemble Cantus join forces for a program of enduring American choral classics and favorite folksongs. Composers from across three centuries will be showcased, among them William Billings, R. Nathaniel Dett, Randall Thompson, Aaron Copland and Alice Parker. Since the American choral scene is thriving, the concert will also feature two world premieres, one by Stephen Paulus and one by Conrad Susa. This concert is presented as part of American Masterpieces: Choral Music, a new initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts that promotes regional celebrations of our country’s master composers. In conjunction with the concert, VocalEssence and Cantus will tour the communities of Grand Rapids, Hibbing and Virginia, MN, to participate in concerts, workshops and community events during the last weekend in September.

Westminster Cathedral Choir of London
Co-presented by Minnesota Public Radio
Thursday, October 19, 2006 (8 pm), Cathedral of Saint Paul, Saint Paul
This fall, The Westminster Cathedral Choir, the only English church choir to win Gramophone Awards for “Best Choral Recording” and “Record of the Year,” will come to call. This renowned men and boys choir is also the only professional Catholic choir in the world to sing daily Mass and Vespers, which they have been doing since the Cathedral was built in 1903. Composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst and Herbert Howells have written expressly for the choir; recently, the choir premiered three new masses by Roxanna Panufnik, James MacMillan and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. They will be able to draw on this long tradition for their performance in Saint Paul.

Welcome Christmas!
Sunday, Dec. 3, 2006 (4 pm), Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis
Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006 (7:30 pm), St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Mahtomedi
Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006 (7:30 pm), Normandale Lutheran Church, Edina
Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006 (4 pm), Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis

O riginally commissioned by VocalEssence in 1992, Conrad Susa’s beloved Carols & Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest will be reprised by the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers with harp, guitar and marimba. Setting familiar Spanish language carols from Spain, Mexico and Puerto Rico, Susa’s compilation is an audience favorite. The ninth annual Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest calls for new carols for chorus with guitar. A selection of festive international carols and Vincent Persichetti’s classic Winter Cantata for women’s voices complete the program.

Bluegrass Harmonies
Friday, January 19, 2007 (8 pm), Trinity Lutheran Church, Stillwater
Saturday, January 20, 2007 (8 pm), Ted Mann Concert Hall, Minneapolis
Minnesota composer Carol Barnett, working with librettist Marisha Chamberlain, will create a sacred piece for premiere by the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers, a ballad singer and the Upper Midwest’s premier bluegrass quintet, Monroe Crossing. Though it is not the first time chorus has been added to the lonesome harmonies of bluegrass, this concert marks the first time VocalEssence has explored the mountain music made famous by Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe. A second world premiere is on the program as well: New York composer Dan Godfrey’s Psalm Dances, which uses poetic settings of selected psalm texts evoking joy, loss and faithfulness.

Co-presented by Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Sunday, February 25, 2007 (4 pm), Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Saint Paul
In 1955, Rosa Parks changed American history when she took a stand against racism by refusing to give up her seat to a white man as she rode a Birmingham bus home after a long day’s work. Inspired by her courage, composer Hannibal Lokumbe created Dear Mrs. Parks, an oratorio based on fictional letters written to Rosa Parks. Incorporating African and African-American idioms, Lokumbe’s text evokes a dream of freedom expressed in many different voices. Our performance will feature vocalist Jevetta Steele, who premiered the work in Detroit in 2005. Building on the theme of social justice, WITNESS will also examine the power of music to bring about positive change with a selection of freedom songs from around the world.

Spanish Inspirations
Special guest conductor Maria Guinand
Saturday, March 24, 2007 (8 pm), Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis
Tomás Luis de Victoria, the greatest of the Spanish Renaissance composers, wrote sacred music renowned for its intensity, whether poignant or joyful. Argentine musician and composer Astor Piazzolla is heralded as the “savior of tango,” the sultry, rhythmic dance that captivates the popular imagination. Piazzolla’s Four Tangos will be accompanied by accordion, his instrument of choice. These two very different passions-sacred and secular-infuse the program selected by Venezuelan conductor Maria Guinand for her appearance with the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers.

Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Saturday, April 28, 2007 (8 pm), Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis
Sunday, April 29, 2007 (2 pm), Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis
VocalEssence and a veritable host of performers representing all musical genres will bring William Bolcom’s kaleidoscopic song cycle, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, to life at Orchestra Hall. An ambitious setting of William Blake’s 46 poems, this Grammy Award-winning work emerged over the course of 25 years of the composer’s life, incorporating elements of classical, choral, rock, blues, country, reggae and folk music. The VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers, the Minnesota Chorale, the Minnesota Boychoir and ten vocal soloists will perform the work with a 105-piece symphony orchestra. These two concerts are the highlight of Illuminating Bolcom, a two-week festival of the composer’s musical genius. Tickets for several other Illuminating Bolcom events, including an organ recital by David Higgs and a cabaret song performance at The Fitzgerald Theater with Bolcom at the piano, will be available for purchase in the fall of 2006.

VocalEssence 2006-2007 Special Events

Ghost Songs & Stories with Garrison Keillor
Sunday, October 29, 2006 (4 pm), Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis
Spooky tales, a signature monologue and spirited sing-alongs will make this family-friendly Halloween concert a treat for all. Along with storyteller Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion familiars Tim “R.I.P.” Russell, Sue “Styx” Scott, “Screamin’” Tom Keith and Rich “Bones” Dworsky will join the VocalEssence Chorus conducted by Philip “Phantom” Brunelle. British composer Judith Bingham contributes her newest piece, Ghost Towns of the American West, to the festivities. Plus, this special event is a benefit for VocalEssence community engagement programs that that serve schoolchildren, college students, adults, singers and composers. A special section of VIP seating priced at $100 per ticket ($55 tax-deductible) is available that includes an exclusive post-concert reception with the artists. Costumes are encouraged!

Star of Wonder
Saturday, December 2, 2006 (2 pm), Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis
This one-hour family holiday concert is designed to please the whole family, from the very young to the young-at-heart. Children are invited to sit right up front on rugs and pillows to enjoy the show and to take home a charming coloring page from children’s book illustrator Lorin Walter. Star of Wonder has become a perennial favorite, especially the much anticipated and often raucous sing-along of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Illuminating Bolcom
A two-week festival of composer William Bolcom’s creative genius
April 21-May 5, 2007
The brilliant American composer William Bolcom’s musical oeuvre will be explored in events ranging from an intimate song recital to the ambitious staging of the monumental Songs of Innocence and of Experience (just honored with four Grammy Awards); from an organ recital featuring David Higgs to a Minnesota Orchestra concert conducted by Edo de Waart; from a cabaret song showcase to a live radio broadcast. Among Minnesota’s leading arts and educational institutions collaborating to produce the two-week festival are VocalEssence, Minnesota Chorale, Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Public Radio, The Schubert Club, The Fitzgerald Theater and Orchestra Hall.

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