In the Media

Danish Pioneer: VocalEssence in Minnesota Features Swedish Composer Nils Lindberg’s ‘A Christmas Cantata’

November 11, 2015

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE: VocalEssence was founded in 1969. (Photo courtesy of VocalEssence)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE: VocalEssence was founded in 1969. (Photo courtesy of VocalEssence)

VOCALESSENCE GOES BIG (BAND) THIS CHRISTMAS! Choral ensemble in Minnesota puts a swinging twist on traditional Christmas carols—and delivers “A Christmas Cantata.”

Nationally acclaimed choral ensemble VocalEssence swings into the holiday season with its annual concert series—Welcome Christmas. This year the series features Swedish composer Nils Lindberg’s A Christmas Cantata, an “iridescent medley that invigorates, inspires and swings in equal measure,” according to

Both Philip Brunelle, founder of VocalEssence and new associate conductor G. Phillip Shoultz, III will conduct during this spirited holiday show, which brings together the 100-voice VocalEssence Chorus, the 32-voice Ensemble Singers and a big band, performing a lineup that blends jazz style with traditional melodies.

As is tradition, two new carols—“Go Tell It on the Mountain” by Laura Caviani and “Sleep Softly, Lullaby” by Josh Bauder, winners of the Welcome Christmas Carol Contest—will enjoy their world premieres during the concert. The annual competition, now in its eighteenth year, is sponsored by VocalEssence and the American Composers Forum, and invites composers of all ages to write a modern-day carol. This year, and staying in tune with Lindberg’s work, composers were asked to write a carol for SATB chorus (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) and trumpet in B-flat or C.

Welcome Christmas is a show I, personally, look forward to each year, and for many it is an integral part of their Christmas tradition,” said Philip Brunelle, VocalEssence founder and artistic director. “Since this is a highlight of the holiday season, we enjoy creating a unique program each year—including works by new composers from our much-anticipated carol contest.”

The VocalEssence Welcome Christmas Concert series begins Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015 at 8 p.m. at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, MN. Additional concert dates are:
* Sunday, Dec. 6 at 4 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis
* Friday, Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. at St. Bartholomew Catholic Faith Community in Wayzata
* Saturday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. at Roseville Lutheran Church
* Sunday, Dec. 13. at 4 p.m. Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis

Tickets are available from $10-$40, with not all price levels available at all venues. For more information about this concert series and to purchase tickets, please call 612-371-5656 or visit

VocalEssence, called “one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time” by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts—and the choral ensemble that Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones says “sings magnificently”—is a leading arts organization that impacts thousands of students, singers, and composers each year through its initiative programs, contests, and support for innovative art. Regularly featured on “A Prairie Home Companion,” VocalEssence is in demand whenever choral music is required—performing with everyone from the Rolling Stones and Rufus Wainwright to James Earl Jones and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Founded in 1969, VocalEssence has debuted more than 250 commissions and world premieres. For more information, visit