Press Release

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers Channel the Celestial in ‘Divine Light’

Jennifer Weismann


The Minneapolis-based choral ensemble, joined by Ruggero Allifranchini on violin, presents two concerts at the historic Summit Center in St. Paul — Sunday, Oct. 13        

MINNEAPOLIS — June 26, 2019 — The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers, joined by Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra associate concertmaster Ruggero Allifranchini on violin, will give two performances of the concert Divine Light, featuring songs that evoke an otherworldly connection, at the Summit Center in St. Paul on Sunday, October 13.

The compositions for this special performance were selected specifically for the extraordinary venue. Once known as St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on the Hill, the Summit Avenue building now known as the Summit Center for Arts & Innovation was designed by French immigrant Emmanuel Masqueray, architect of the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Basilica of St. Mary. Its stunning acoustics led to a second life as a concert performance venue which opened just this year.

Press images are available here.

There will be two performances of Divine Light on Sunday, October 13, each preceded by a talk about the story behind the songs by VocalEssence artistic director Philip Brunelle. The first preconcert talk starts at 3 pm, and the concert will take place from 4-5:30 pm. The second preconcert talk starts at 6 pm, and the concert takes place from 7-8:30 pm. Tickets are currently available as part of a 2019-20 Concert Series Subscription. Single tickets go on sale on Monday, August 5, 2019.

“VocalEssence is entering our second fifty years stronger than ever, and we’re delighted to demonstrate this incredible space as it enters its second century better than ever, too!” says VocalEssence Founder and Artistic Director Philip Brunelle. “The original design of the Summit Center allowed voices to surround, and even overcome, the church’s worshippers. We want to recreate that transcendence and magic, so we turned to works like György Ligeti’s 16-part “Lux Aeterna,” made famous in 2001: A Space Odyssey; “Gaelic Hymns” by Ina Boyle, a prolific but overlooked Irish composer whose reputation is undergoing a revival; and “A Silence Haunts Me” by one of Minnesota’s own composers, Jake Runestad, among others. We hope that everyone who attends is able to experience the connection between the human and the divine.”

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 300 commissions and 500 world premieres. For more information, visit