Press Release

VocalEssence Explores the Seasons of Life with “The Voyage”

Jennifer Weismann

Acclaimed choral ensemble kicks off 48th season exploring challenges and triumphs in a musical journey through life, marked by the words of Shakespeare—October 16


MINNEAPOLIS—AUGUST 26, 2016—Internationally recognized choral music organization VocalEssence, who earlier this summer performed with Italian singing sensation Andrea Bocelli in front of 16,000 fans at the Target Center, is preparing an exciting premiere of its 48th season on Oct. 16.

The Voyage will be a concert combining two stirringly creative and soul-warming works, The Voyage and Quilt Songs—along with a reading of Shakespearean monologues performed by Guthrie Theater director Joseph Haj to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

The common thread that ties The Voyage and Quilt Songs together is salvation through community—how the kindness of others provides a way out of loneliness. Using singing as a compass, people can find the way from aching solitude to comfort and security. It’s a message at the very heart of the VocalEssence mission—to build strong communities through song.

“As the weather gets colder, people tend to gather closer together, and the music of The Voyage and Quilt Songs help people relate to one another through life’s challenges and triumphs,” says Philip Brunelle, founder and artistic director, VocalEssence. “The premieres of these two pieces bring together some of our true luminaries of choral music, the themes underscored by the immortal words of Shakespeare, whose deep understanding of human passages remains a gift to us 400 years later.”

The concert’s namesake piece, The Voyage, comes to Minneapolis from British choral music star Bob Chilcott. A famed tenor from The King’s Singers, Chilcott is a noted conductor whose work as a composer has produced a vast catalog of choral music, performed by singers and choirs in more than 30 countries. The Voyage, a collaboration with British poet Charles Bennett, was a special commission by Age UK Oxfordshire, created based on research that singing decreases the effects of loneliness on the aging population. The performance aims to bring people of all ages together to defeat those feelings of isolation.

The Voyage focuses on a topic that we at VocalEssence have been engaged with for several years: how the isolation and anxiety of aging can be mitigated—through song,” adds Associate Conductor G. Phillip Shoultz, III. “Our Vintage Voices program seeks out senior citizens where they live and spend time—in senior centers and assisted living facilities—and provides an opportunity to join in weekly choir rehearsals culminating in a real concert performance. It’s a true affirmation of the value of the community-building VocalEssence believes so strongly in.”

The Voyage will be brought to life with voices from every age in human development lending their own spirit and energy as the voices of the VocalEssence Chorus will be joined by younger performers from the Minneapolis Youth Chorus and from senior performers from the Voices of Experience.

Quilt Songs draws texture and color from different artistic disciplines­, unifying them in a single dazzling composition. Besides the folk art of contemporary local quilter Kay McCarthy, Quilt Songs also features poetry and selections from the music of five prominent female composers: Carol Barnett, Ysaÿe Barnwell, Gabriela Frank, Libby Larsen and Alice Parker.

The concert will be Sun., October 16, at 4 p.m. at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. A pre-concert conversation with conductor Nick Nash and quilter Kay McCarthy, hosted by Randall Davidson, will begin at 3 p.m.

Tickets are currently available and range from $20-40. For more information about this concert and to purchase tickets, 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—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