VocalEssence has announced its 46th season of concerts, and in a word, wow. Along with the favorites fans have come to expect – “Welcome Christmas,” the family Christmas concert “Star of Wonder,” the annual “Witness” and “Cantare!” shows – are some real surprises: a choral premiere by a hip-hop artist, a tour with Mark Twain, and an evening with P.D.Q. Bach.
The season opener at Orchestra Hall on Oct. 26, “Made in Minnesota,” features music by Minnesota composers Dominick Argento, Stephen Paulus and Libby Larson, St. Olaf and U of M grad Jocelyn Hagen, and hip-hop artist/Doomtree rapper Dessa in her choral premiere. From Nov. 13–16, the Ensemble Singers and Don Shelby will travel through Minnesota river towns, pairing American choral masterpieces, folksongs and traditional spirituals of the river with the words of Mark Twain, spoken by Shelby. (The former news anchor is becoming a regular with VocalEssence; last year he played the role of Paul Bunyan in Benjamin Britten’s opera by that name.)
On Feb. 8, 2015, the Grammy-winning ensemble Sounds of Blackness and VocalEssence will salute Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in “WITNESS: Let Freedom Ring.” March 14 and 15 will see the regional premiere of “The Radio Hour,” a theatrical production by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, co-commissioned by VocalEssence and staged at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater. (A reviewer who saw the world premiere in California earlier this year called it “entertaining and enchanting.”) On April 10, P.D.Q. Bach joins VocalEssence to celebrate his 80th birthday as the “youngest and oddest” twenty-first child of J.S. Bach. Learn more about the season here. Tickets are on sale now.