Press Release

VocalEssence Artistic Director Receives (Another) Top Honor


Jennifer Weismann


Philip Brunelle wins the 2019 American Prize in Conducting

            MINNEAPOLIS — July 23, 2019 VocalEssence founder and artistic director Philip Brunelle is still going strong after more than a half century on the podium. The maestro recently garnered another prestigious award— The American Prize in Conducting, the top honor given in the chorus division, which recognizes the best orchestral, choral, band/wind ensemble, opera and musical theater conductors in America. To enter, VocalEssence submitted a portfolio of work samples consisting of all American music.

The submission videos can be viewed here.

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized for the important work we do at VocalEssence. Singing in a group — in a choir or with friends — helps humans bond, and studies show it’s also making us healthier,” says Philip Brunelle, founder, VocalEssence. “Since our beginning more than 50 years ago, the goal of VocalEssence has been to explore and promote choral music from all eras, and from across the globe. A recognition like this will help us continue our mission of bringing the power of choir singing to more people, helping strengthen our diverse Twin Cities community — because: together, we sing.”

The American Prize is a set of annual nonprofit national competitions in the performing arts which recognizes and rewards commercial and noncommercial recorded performances of classical music in the United States. The award is bestowed at professional, college/university, community and high school levels in a number of areas including composition, piano, voice, chamber music, conducting, and ensemble performance. The jury consists of well known performing artists in each area.

VocalEssence founder and artistic director Philip Brunelle is an internationally renowned conductor, scholar, and performer. He has worked tirelessly to expand audiences for rarely heard works of the past and worthwhile new music. His conducting engagements have taken him throughout the world. Chorus America has honored Philip with its most prestigious award, the Michael Korn Founder’s Award for Development of the Choral Art, and he has received numerous other honors from national and local chapters of the American Choral Directors Association. He has served in several leadership positions for the International Federation of Choral Music, and holds five honorary doctorates. He has been recognized for his commitment to choral music by Norway (Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit), the United Kingdom (Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire), Hungary (Kodály Medal), Sweden (Royal Order of the Polar Star), and Mexico (Ohtli Recognition Award).

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 champions choral music of all genres, celebrating the vocal experience through innovative performances, commissioning of new music, and engaging with diverse constituencies. VocalEssence was founded in 1969 and has debuted more than 300 new works and given more than 500 premieres. For more information, visit