Press Release

VocalEssence Celebrates Bach’s Twenty-First (Out of Twenty) Child—P.D.Q. Bach!

Jennifer Weismann

Minneapolis-based choral ensemble hosts birthday bash for
composer and parodist Peter Schickele—Apr. 10

MINNEAPOLIS — February 12, 2015 — The 100-voice VocalEssence Chorus, 32-voice Ensemble Singers and the University of Minnesota’s Wind Ensemble will celebrate the 80th birthday of legendary composer, musicologist and foremost P.D.Q. Bach historian, Professor Peter Schickele. This momentous occasion will be marked by a concert featuring works by Professor Schickele, as well as those by his alter ego, P.D.Q. Bach. The birthday concert will also mark the 50th anniversary of Schickele’s most (in)famous discovery/invention; a composer sometimes referred to as “the most dangerous musician since Nero.”

VocalEssence conductor Philip Brunelle and Craig Kirchhoff, professor of conducting and director of university bands at the University of Minnesota, will lead the evening’s program at Ted Mann Concert Hall on Fri., Apr. 10 at 8 p.m. Minnesota Public Radio’s John Birge will host a pre-concert conversation with Schickele at 7 p.m.

“VocalEssence has worked with extremely talented musicians over the years — all of whom have introduced our audiences to some very exciting and unusual choral experiences — but no one’s doing it like Peter Schickele,” said Philip Brunelle, founder and artistic director, VocalEssence. “Schickele, unlike his much neglected P.D.Q., is a wonderfully gifted and prolific composer and musician whose work spans from folk music to symphonies and everything in between. For the connoisseur, this is a once-in-a-half-century opportunity and for the uninitiated, the best April Fools’ Day joke ever!”

Tickets for the P.D.Q. Bach & Peter Schickele Birthday Bash concert are available for $20 and up here. For more information about this concert, 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, 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 150 commissions and world premieres. For more information, visit

Listen and download music by P.D.Q. Bach & Peter Schickele

“May” from Concerto for Piano and Chorus, Twelve Months by Peter Schickele

“May” from “Concerto for Piano and Chorus, Twelve Months”  by Peter Schickele is an anonymous medieval Norman song translated by John A. Symonds (1840-1893).  It is a piano concerto in which the chorus accompanies the piano much in the way the orchestra does in most concertos.

“Simply Grand Minuet (mvt. 2) is from Grand Serenade for an Awful Lot of Winds and Percussion S. 1000 by P.D.Q. Bach

“Simply Grand Minuet (mvt. 2) is from “Grand Serenade for an Awful Lot of Winds and Percussion,” S. 1000 by P.D.Q. Bach. In this movement the brass players are required to play their mouthpiece without the rest of the instrument, and the oboists and bassoonists play their reeds without the rest of the instrument.