Press Release

VocalEssence Fuses Mexico with Minnesota in ¡Cantare!

Jennifer Weismann



Minneapolis-based choral ensemble premieres new works by Mexican composers and local students in ¡Cantaré! Community Concert


MINNEAPOLIS—February 16, 2015VocalEssence invites families to cross the border to a Mexican musical celebration in the ¡Cantaré! (I Will Sing!) community concert on May 21. As the finale to the choral ensemble’s annual ¡Cantaré! program, the concert series will take place at St. Paul’s Ordway Center for the Performing Arts on Thur., May 21 at 7 p.m.

As part of its commitment to celebrating different cultures through choral art, VocalEssence pairs two Mexican composers-in-residence with elementary and high school choirs as well as community choruses across the Twin Cities to explore Mexico’s cultural and choral tradition. This year, students met with acclaimed composers Jean Angelus Pichardo (for elementary students) and Julio Morales (for high school students) over three visits, for a total of four weeks between October and May, to collaborate and compose eight new choral pieces; the final works will be premiered at the Ordway Center. In addition, selected works will be published through the VocalEssence Music Press.

The first concert begins at 7 p.m., as the VocalEssence Chorus takes the stage alongside students from St. Paul’s Adams Spanish Immersion Elementary School, Minnehaha Academy Lower School, Southwest High School, Minneapolis, the Youth Choir of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Richfield’s Partnership Academy, Blaine High School, and Park High School.

“The underlying mission of VocalEssence is to explore, develop and share choral music from all over the world,” said Philip Brunelle, founder and artistic director, VocalEssence. “As one of our flagship educational initiatives, ¡Cantaré! is a lens through which we, as Minnesotans, can discover the musical traditions and sounds of our neighbors in Mexico. It’s a wonderful way for us to engage young people through music, to expand our shared choral repertoire and hopefully, to spark more interest in musical mentorships. And, ultimately, through all our efforts, we are just hoping to get more people singing, more often.”

Jean Angelus Pichardo is a composer, arranger, performer and music producer who creates and promotes artistic projects combining music with other arts and disciplines. His music has been performed around the world, and he is the recipient of several national honors, including the National Endowment for the Arts Young Artist grant by the National Fund for Arts and Culture (FONCA); the Young Artist grant (Endowment for the Arts and Artistic Development) by State Fund for Arts and Culture (FOCAEM) in 2011 and 2013 – 2014; awards from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and from National Council for Culture and the Arts (CONACULTA). He has supplemented his academic training with courses and workshops in theater and studies in law at the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM).

Julio Morales’s passion for choral music has taken his career as an arranger and composer to choirs including Coro Altus, Ensamble Vocal Veracruzano, Coro de la Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, the Ensamble Mesticanto of Venezuela, and the University of Michigan Men’s Club in the United States. In 2012 his composition “Dos cuerpos,” with lyrics by Octavio Paz, was included in the Cor-atl México collection, which documented Mexican choral activity and its national and international influence, and was presented by Jorge Cózatl, a previous VocalEssence ¡Cantaré! composer. In 2013 he started as a professor in the Instituto Superior de Música del Estado de Veracruz (ISMEV), and in the Centro de Estudios de Jazz de la Universidad Veracruzana (JAZZUV). Now he is studying to receive his Masters in Composition in the Universidad Veracruzana; is the conductor of the choir Vox Populi Project; a tenor singer in the EnsambleVocal Veracruzano; a professor of jazz choir in JAZZUV and professor of Technologies Applied to Music in the Instituto Superior de Música del Estado de Veracruz (ISMEV).

Tickets for the ¡Cantaré! Community Concert are free and open to the public. Tickets will be available beginning on April 1, 2015. For more information about this event, please call 612-547-1456 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 175 commissions and world premieres. For more information, visit