Press Release

VocalEssence Brings Choral Music Luminaries to Minneapolis for Historic Community Sing

Jennifer Weismann



Join in song with nonagenarian choral legend Alice Parker and long-time Sweet Honey In The Rock® star Ysaÿe Barnwell at Community Sing with VocalEssence—October 15


MINNEAPOLIS—JULY 12, 2016—For the first Community Sing of its 48th season, Minneapolis’s premier choral ensemble is extending a one-of-a-kind invitation: to join in song with two of choral music’s most distinctive and indelible talents, Alice Parker and Ysaÿe Barnwell. These two Queens of Choral Music will lead an unforgettable evening of fellowship drawing on their rich, lifelong experiences as dynamic leaders of the choral tradition—and they welcome the participation of everyone, from first-timers to seasoned vocal pros to enjoy the positive benefits of group singing.


The Community Sing will be held Sat., October 15, at 2 p.m., in the Auditorium of Creative Arts Secondary School. The event is open to all—no prior singing experience is required.


Alice Parker, now in her nineties, is a miracle of song-empowered energy, born in 1925 and still performing today. She is the founder of Melodious Accord, Inc., a non-profit group presenting choral concerts, workshops and symposia. She has been recognized for her lifetime contributions to choral music by organizations including Chorus America, the American Guild of Organists, the American Choral Directors Association, The Hymn Society and Choral Arts New England.


Dr. Ysaÿe Barnwell, a longtime vocalist with the internationally acclaimed a cappella group Sweet Honey In The Rock®, has appeared as a vocalist and instrumentalist on more than thirty recordings. Her workshop “Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African American Tradition” has been performed on three continents. Closer to home, her work was commissioned by the Plymouth Music Series in Minneapolis in 2001. This spring, President Obama honored her with a nomination to the National Council on the Arts.


“We are honored to bring these powerful women in choral music to the Twin Cities to help VocalEssence celebrate our 48th season,” says G. Phillip Shoultz, III, associate conductor, VocalEssence. “Studies show group singing changes the brain, releasing endorphins and oxytocin to calm anxiety and elevate our spirits. ‘Together We Sing’ is our mantra and we’ve invited Alice and Ysaÿe to town to use their magical talent for helping everyone discover the gift of their own voice—bringing us all a little closer together, helping reduce the stresses of our lives through the power of song.”


$25 tickets including sheet music will be available in early September 2016, but VocalEssence 48th Season Subscribers will have access to a pre-sale. For more information about subscribing and to purchase tickets, 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”—impacts thousands of students, singers, and composers each year through its initiative programs, contests, and support for innovative art. VocalEssence was founded in 1969 and has debuted more than 250 commissions and world premieres. For more information, visit